Despite lead, findings suggest a runoff election
With six weeks till Election Day, a poll conducted by Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership shows Houston Mayor Annise Parker with a 20-percentage-point lead over former City Attorney Ben Hall. However, Parker only has the support of 34 percent of respondents, with Hall receiving 14 percent. Forty-eight percent said they are unsure whom they will support Nov. 5.
The poll is based on interviews with 424 registered voters in the city of Houston between Sept. 11 and 20. It has an error rate of plus or minus 4.76 percent. It was prepared for KHOU-TV and KUHF-FM as part of a series of studies being announced this week. None of the other seven candidates received more than 2 percent of voter support in the poll.
Separately, 62 percent of likely voters in the election feel the city is on the right track, with 57 percent rating Parker’s performance as positive.
These findings suggest a runoff election for mayor between Parker and Hall, said Robert Stein, Rice’s Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of Political Science, who oversaw the poll. The runoff would take place Dec. 14.
Historically, Parker has not polled well in pre-election surveys, Stein said. The mayor received 37 percent of voter support in a 2011 pre-election survey, and this is reflected in her narrow victory in 2011, where she won with 51 percent over her then-opponent, former City Attorney Gene Locke.
Parker’s share of the vote by race and ethnicity is broad, according to the poll. She garnered 38 percent of the Anglo vote, 42 percent of the Hispanic vote and 24 percent of African-American vote. Hall, an African-American, has support from 29 percent of African-American voters. Parker garnered 27 percent of Anglo Republican voters’ support, compared with only 11 percent for Ben Hall.
The University of Houston Center for Public Policy Survey Research Institute assisted with the research.