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Chron poll: Brown leads

Campos teased the news earlier today, and now the story is up: Peter Brown leads in a new Zogby poll of the Mayor’s race.

According to the poll, Brown leads the field with 23.8 percent of the vote, followed by Parker with 19 percent, Locke with 13.1 percent, and Harris County Board of Education Trustee Roy Morales with 6.7 percent.

The results are drawn from a survey of 601 likely Houston voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

In head-to-head matchups that provide some insight on how the candidates may fare in a potential runoff, Brown’s lead withers to statistical insignificance against Parker, with him winning 35.3 percent to Parker’s 34 percent, and 28.8 percent undecided.

In a one-on-one contest between Brown and Locke, Brown leads with 36.9 percent to 24.9 percent, with 34.1 percent undecided.

While Parker is close to Brown and polled strongly among self-identified Democrats, women and younger voters, the results could spell trouble for Locke, who has only slightly better name recognition in the race than Morales, a more conservative candidate whose anemic fundraising has not allowed him to pay for any television, radio or mail advertising.

Well, that’s a strong suggestion that Brown’s domination of the airwaves has had an effect. There’s still a lot of undecideds, and I’m not sure I believe that Locke’s level of support is that low, but this is what we’ve got.

Greg, Martha, and Nancy add their analyses, and they cover most of the necessary ground. The main thing I would add is that it’s a wee bit unclear just what their voter screen is. The story says “a survey of 601 likely Houston voters”, but the sidebar says “601 likely voters, randomly drawn from a telephone list of registered voters”. Does that mean they spoke to more than 601 people from that list and used a filter of some kind to narrow it down, or does that simply mean 601 registered voters? There’s a big difference between the two. And if they did narrow things down, how many people did they speak to originally? Remember, in a good year turnout will be around 30%, so most registered voters are not “likely”, and that’s especially true this year when turnout might be more in the 20-25% range. So as happy as I am to see another data point, it’s still the case that you can only put so much stock in just one data point. It would not be a surprise at all if another pollster got a different result, if only because they made different assumptions about who is “likely” to vote this year.

For what it’s worth, Zogby did a pretty reasonable job polling Harris County in 2008 for the Chron, though they did show Bradford beating Lykos by 7 in the DA race, and gave Ed Emmett a much bigger lead than he eventually won with against David Mincberg. I believe this is a trickier race to poll, as again nobody has a firm grip on how big the electorate will eventually be. With all those undecideds, the question is will they eventually pick someone, or will they stay home? I guarantee everyone will be paying very close attention to how early voting goes.

Finally, as Nancy notes, the Chron also made its endorsements in the Mayor’s race. Yes, endorsements – they co-endorsed Parker and Locke. I can’t wait to see how that goes. A statement from the Parker campaign about the poll is here. I’ve reproduced it, plus a statement from the Brown campaign, beneath the fold. I have not as yet seen a statement from the Locke campaign.

UPDATE: Received a release from the Gene Locke campaign, which has been added beneath the fold as well.

The poll released today by the Houston Chronicle shows that months of round-the-clock ads and more than two million dollars cannot buy victory.

After spending more than two million dollars, Peter Brown is still in a virtual tie in head-to-head match ups with Annise Parker. John Zogby, whose firm conducted the poll, said that Brown “could be a little disappointed in these results, because whatever lead he has is hardly commensurate with what he has spent.”

The Chronicle also noted that Gene Locke, who has raised more than two million dollars, has been unable to consolidate a base and is “in a distant third.” Parker beats Locke handily in every trial heat.

This is a tough, tight election, with the future of the city at stake. It’s been close in all the polls from the start of the race, and it won’t be easy for any candidate. But now we’re in the stretch run. Voters are beginning to focus – and as they do, Parker will emerge as the candidate with the record, the character and the ability to be the trusted leader Houston needs.

Peter Brown is making a serious attempt to buy this election. He’s bought himself a lot of name ID, and he’s moved up in the polls. But as the Chronicle points out, in the head-to-head match-ups, “Brown’s lead withers to statistical insignificance against Parker.”

As Chronicle columnist Rick Casey points out, “given that [Brown] has had the airwaves to himself for a month, it’s hard to see how he lifts his total much above this in the next two weeks.” The bottom line is that all Brown’s money cannot blow Parker away.

Brown, however, hasn’t gotten the close scrutiny that the other candidates have. News media need to look behind the façade and start examining Brown’s lackluster record.

“Out-of-Town Brown has missed key votes on city priorities like public safety and transportation while vacationing at his wife’s villa on the French Riviera,” said Parker’s campaign manager Adam Harris. “And when he’s not in France, he’s back here taking credit for Bill White’s accomplishments, like the Real Time Crime Center, the city’s recycling program and using energy-efficient LED lights in traffic signals.”

“We’re in crunch time now,“ Harris said. “Annise Parker is the candidate best equipped for victory. Parker is the only candidate who has used tough audits to free up millions of dollars for priorities like police and vital services. She is the only one with 20 years experience in the oil and gas business and a plan to create jobs by making Houston the center of the new energy economy. And Annise Parker is the only one with a plan that won’t increase our taxes when families can least afford it.“

Parker is the leader for Houston’s future. That’s why Parker is endorsed by the Houston Chronicle.

City Council Member, businessman and mayoral candidate Peter Brown today reacted to the news that he has pulled into the lead in Houston’s mayoral election. According to a Zogby poll commissioned by the Houston Chronicle, Peter Brown – long considered a dark horse by political pundits to win the mayor’s race – has pulled beyond the margin of error to take the lead among all candidates heading into early voting.

“The Chronicle’s poll confirms what we are hearing every day in Peter Brown’s grassroots campaign – Houstonians believe in Peter Brown’s Blueprint for an Even Better Houston,” said Brown’s campaign manager Lucinda Guinn. “He is the only candidate with the experience and vision to create jobs and grow our economy, cut government waste and protect taxpayer dollars, improving our quality of life.”

“While our opponents have engaged in cynical politics as usual, Peter Brown has focused on a grassroots campaign to make this city even better,” said Guinn. “Houstonians are clearly responding to that positive message.”

According to the poll, Peter Brown leads the field with 23.8 percent of the vote, followed by Annise Parker with 19 percent, Gene Locke with 13.1 percent, and Roy Morales with 6.7 percent. The results are drawn from a survey of 601 likely Houston voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

“I am humbled by the support of Houstonians from every part of our city,” said Peter Brown. “But this race is far from over. I am going to continue running like I am 10 points behind. And since I have been 10 points behind for most of this campaign, I kind of have that down by now. I urge all my supporters to work even harder because together we can boost our economy, cut crime, and reduce waste in our government – to improve Houston’s quality of life.”

A Houston Chronicle poll conducted a week ago shows that the race for Houston’s mayor is still up for grabs. With three weeks until election day and almost 40% of likely voters undecided in this poll, the candidate who has the most to gain is Gene Locke. The poll shows that nearly half of Houstonians are not familiar with Locke, who had never run for office and had only been communicating broadly for a handful of days prior to completion of the poll.

Locke, who received the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle, has raised the most amount of money and received the lion’s share of endorsements from a broad spectrum of individuals and organizations. John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International who conducted the poll for the Chronicle, commented that Locke does well across the board.

“Over the next two weeks as Houstonians continue to get to know Gene Locke, they will agree with the Chronicle that he has ‘shown the ability to get things done in making our city a better place,'” said Kim Devlin, senior advisor for Locke for Mayor.

“This poll is not good news for Peter Brown, who has spent millions of his family’s money yet still receives less than twenty-five percent of the vote,” continued Devlin. “Councilman Brown has spent his time in elected office currying favor and lining the pockets of his friends. But, he is learning an expensive lesson: Houstonians cannot be bought and leadership is more than just writing a check.”

“Furthermore, while Annise Parker may be the ‘only one’ in this race who has been in elected office for twelve years, the fact that she has not been able to break twenty percent in any public poll should cause great concern to her campaign,” remarked Devlin. “Especially given the state of her anemic fundraising, there doesn’t seem to be a clear path for her to reach undecided voters.”

The Locke campaign is in a great position to capitalize on the vast number of Houstonians who have yet to choose a candidate in this race. They are the only campaign with both an aggressive field program AND the resources to continue to communicate on television and radio.

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13 Comments

  1. martha says:

    You are asking the right questions about how the poll was conducted. I’m surprised there is not more info about that.

  2. Austin says:

    I see Parker’s mean spirit is a live and well!

  3. houtopia says:

    Of course, my question is, what constitutes a “likely voter”? In this low temperature electoral environment, I would not rely on poll respondents categorizing themselves as likely to vote sufficient to qualify them. Rather, were it my poll, I likely would have drawn 80% of my sample from registered voters with at least some recent history of voting in City elections, and the remaining 20% from all registered voters in the City.

    The 2009 mayoral election continues to generate little interest among Houstonians. With that in mind, one could plausibly argue that those voters with a previously demonstrated history of voting in City elections are likely to dominate the turnout this go-round. My over/under for turnout is 220,000.

  4. […] Casey has some good observations about that Chron poll that was released Saturday. The main point I want to focus on is here: [Peter Brown] leads with 24 […]

  5. […] we have crosstabs and more details about that Chron poll from the weekend. The first thing that leaps out at me is that they also polled the […]

  6. […] long as Zogby was polling the Mayor’s race, they may as well ask about some other stuff, too. Like whether or not you like the Ashby highrise. […]

  7. […] we know, the Chron poll from the weekend also included a question about the Controller’s race. Here now is the Chron […]

  8. […] Chron gets one more story from the crosstabs of their poll. A Houston Chronicle poll conducted last week shows that [Peter] Brown, who has saturated the city […]

  9. […] to the ad here (MP3 file). Two things I’ll add to this. One, whether or not you believe that Chron poll – Dr. Murray expresses his skepticism about it – I think it’s safe to say that […]

  10. […] folks with a history of voting in recent city elections, this strikes me as far more sound than the Chron poll. It was also conducted between October 15-18, so it takes into account the recent TV advertising […]

  11. […] screen was done by asking people if they were likely to vote, as appears to be the case with the Chron poll, or was there a pre-screen based on recent voter history, as was the case with the Parker internal […]

  12. […] years. A poll of plain old registered voters is next to meaningless in a low turnout context, as we saw in 2009. For my money, even being a 2009 voter isn’t enough this year. If you were eligible […]

  13. […] people who will not be voting in November. Just ask Mayor Peter Brown, who was the frontrunner in two separate polls in 2009. Brown’s numbers relative to his opponents were bolstered by his being […]