The poll consisted of 500 telephone interviews with registered Houston voters who consider themselves likely to vote in the December 12 runoff election. Early voting begins November 30 and ends December 8. The Center for Civic Engagement at Rice University and the University of Houston Center for Public Policy Survey Research Institute conducted the poll for KHOU-TV and KUHF Radio.
According to the poll, 37 percent of likely voters plan to cast a ballot for Parker. Thirty-four percent say they will vote for Locke. Because the margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent, the poll is a statistical tie. Twenty-one percent of likely voters still have not decided, and eight percent would not disclose their choice in our survey.
You already know how I feel about a poll in a race like this using self-identification as the criteria for voter likelihood. The previous KHOU poll, as well as the Chron poll, clearly illustrate the danger. The question as always is how many of these people really are likely to vote. My guess is that most if not all of the “don’t know” respondents are at best long shots to show up.
“We see this race as very much a toss-up,” said Rice University professor Bob Stein, who conducted the poll. “The good news for Gene Locke is that we see some room for improvement for him. He needs to get more familiar with African-American voters, and he needs to turn out more of them. When they do vote, they vote decidedly for Locke. The good news for Annise Parker is that her vote is solid.”
The poll showed that 97 percent of the people who voted for Parker in the November 3 general election plan to vote for her again on December 12. For Locke, the figure was 87 percent.
“It appears this is race is one in which Gene Locke is still not very well known to voters,” Stein said. “Our numbers show that if this is a low-turnout runoff, then Parker wins it by five points. But if turnout is higher, then we find it is almost dead even.”
That conforms to the conventional wisdom as I’ve been hearing it. I don’t know how KHOU modeled that, though I presume it involves a higher relative level of African-American turnout. There are no crosstabs that I can see, but there is some demographic breakdown given, some of which you can see in pictures. Note to whoever created those slides: The margin of error for a subsample is larger than the MOE for the sample as a whole. Just FYI.
One more thing:
Among voters who say they supported Peter Brown in the general election, 38 percent say they will vote for Locke in the runoff, and 46 percent plan to vote for Parker. Brown has endorsed Parker in the runoff, and is actively campaigning for her. Among people who say they voted for Roy Morales, 31 percent say they will vote for Locke, and 16 percent will support Parker. Forty-nine percent of Morales voters told pollsters they have not decided who, if anyone, to support.
Well, Locke is certainly working for the Roy vote. We’ll see how that goes from here.
As the story notes, this poll was a joint venture with KUHF. The main thing we learn from the KUHF story is that other races were polled as well.
Councilmembers Ronald Green and MJ Khan are in the run-off to become Houston’s next controller, essentially the chief financial officer for the city. The KUHF-11News survey shows Green has a slight lead with 25 percent of people saying they’ll vote for him, compared to Khan’s 22 percent.
But Rice University Political Scientist Bob Stein, who authored the survey, says 46 percent of respondents don’t even know who they’ll vote for on December 12th.
According to our survey, two incumbents, Sue Lovell and Jolanda Jones, hold slim leads over their challengers. And the race between Stephen Costello and Karen Derr, which Costello leads by four points, is practically unheard of outside political circles. As many as 65 percent of likely voters say they’re undecided in those races.
My qualms about the voter likelihood screen aside, it sure would be nice to see these results in more detail.
UPDATE: Martha brings the snark.
UPDATE: Oh, and speaking of Locke’s pursuit of Roy’s voters.
Allen Blakemore thinks he knows where the finger lands. The Republican campaign consultant says that if you voted for Morales in October, you’re going to love – sorry, strike that – you’re going to vote for Gene Locke in December.
“It’s not an easy sell for Gene, and it’s not an easy decision for those voters to come to,” Blakemore told me. In the end, though, Locke has two things going for him when you, the right-of-center voter, step into the voting booth: 1) He doesn’t have a voting record and Annise Parker does, particularly on taxes; 2) Parker’s “lifestyle” still gives you pause.
A Locke-Morales pas de deux in the works? More to come shortly.