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Sunday, December 15, 2019

City

Mayor Turner leads Hobby School poll


Mayor Sylvester Turner is the most favored candidate, with 43.5 percent of all likely voters saying they’d check his name on their ballots. | File photo

A survey of likely voters conducted by the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs found Mayor Sylvester Turner leading the Houston mayoral race, with 43.5 percent of likely voters saying they would vote for the incumbent.

“When people are satisfied with the status quo, they are likely to go (vote) for the incumbent. Turner has a good approval rate,” said Mark P. Jones, political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute and a research associate at the Hobby School.

Tony Buzbee is the next most popular mayoral hopeful, polling at 23.4 percent. He’s followed by Bill King, Dwight Boykins, and Sue Lovell, who earned support from 7.8 percent, 6.8 percent, and 1.2 percent of polled voters, respectively. Some 17.2 percent of the survey’s respondents said they were undecided or did not wish to share which candidate they preferred.

Many factors contribute to the decisions voters make, Jones said. The funding and resulting visibility of each candidate plays a part, as well as the racial and ethnic background of both voters and candidates. 

Though the mayoral race isn’t partisan, Jones said voters also pay attention to which way candidates lean politically when choosing who will receive their support. 

“I’m voting for Dwight Boykins,” said kinesiology junior Chrissy Gutierre. “I see his signs everywhere, and he’s a Democratic representative.” 

Other factors the poll looked at include the gender, household income and generation of likely voters. While 39.5 percent of Generation Z and Millennials said they favor Turner, the second most likely choice for these younger generational groups is “undecided,” coming in at 32.6 percent. 

Jones said he suspects the large chunk of undecided Generation Z and Millennial voters may be because they will not be voting at all, or because they may have a lack of knowledge about all of the candidates. 

“I know Turner’s doing OK, and there were a lot of names (on the ballot) that I didn’t recognize. He’s doing fine and putting out new things,” said civil engineering senior Abdul Maani, who marked Turner’s name on his ballot during early voting.

Early voting in Harris County will continue until Nov. 1, with Nov. 5 designated as Election Day. Students can vote at the Student Center South on the second floor any day of the week.

Houstonians this election season will vote for a number of ballot measures, including Proposition 8, which concerns the creation of a flood infrastructure fund and Proposition A, which looks to gain approval for the METRONEXT program. 

For some voters, these issues take precedence. As shown in the poll, 41.3 percent of likely voters indicated flooding to be the most important issue facing Houston. Others may make their way out to vote for whatever they deem most pressing.

“I mostly came to vote for the Metro proposition,” Maani said.

As the second week of early voting kicks off, there may not be many factors that can alter the course of the mayoral race.

“I think between now and Nov. 5, there’s relatively little that can change one of the two most likely outcomes: Turner finishing first with over 50 percent of the vote, or Buzbee coming in a closer second, leading to a runoff,” Jones said.

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