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KHOU/KUHF poll: Tuner 38, King 38

We have a tie, according to the latest poll.

Sylvester Turner and Bill King are now locked in a dead heat in the race for Houston mayor, according to the newly released KHOU-News 88.7 Poll of likely voters.

The survey shows both candidates supported by 38 percent of surveyed voters, with roughly one-quarter of voters still uncommitted. About 13 percent told pollsters they didn’t know how they would vote, while another 11 percent refused to answer the question.

“I’ve polled since 1979,” said Bob Stein, the Rice University political scientist who supervised the survey. “I don’t recall ever seeing a race this close in the runoff. Usually at this point in the campaign, one of the two candidates has, if not a significant lead, an approaching significant lead. I’ve never seen a race this close.”

Turner, a Democratic state representative who’s making his third run for an office he’s coveted for a quarter century, easily led the pack of candidates in November’s general election. But King, a businessman and former mayor of Kemah who’s courted fiscally conservative Republicans, has quickly closed the gap and turned Houston’s mayoral race into an intensely competitive campaign.

“We see no evidence of either candidate leading, so I think both are going to work extremely hard, come rain or shine, to turn out that base,” Stein said. “Upwards of half the vote, maybe more, will be cast on Saturday.”

The poll data can be found here. I will note four things. One, the KHOU/KUHF poll for the November race was not terribly accurate beyond declaring Turner as the frontunner. To be fair, most of the polls we knew about were not terribly accurate, either. Two, as was the case with that poll, this one has a very high number of “don’t know” responses, which just seems weird for a runoff election. I mean, how many people who are truly going to vote in this race don’t know which candidate they support? Note the contrast in “don’t knows” between this poll and the dueling campaign-aligned polls from a week or so ago. My guess is that some number of these people who say they don’t know really do know but didn’t want to say for whatever the reason. Three, the 2001 runoff between Mayor Lee Brown and Orlando Sanchez was also viewed as a dead heat. Richard Murray, who is admittedly not Bob Stein, called it “an absolute cliffhanger” that would go down to the last vote. Finally, the KHOU/KUHF sample is 30% King voters from November, and 31% Turner voters from November; in reality, Turner led King 31-25 in November. That may be a reflection of actual turnout so far, or it may just be a reminder that who shows up is the big factor at this point. As with all polls, make of this as you will.

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7 Comments

  1. PDiddie says:

    I can buy that 13% are undecided — that’s still a little high for ‘likely’ voters — but why are 11% of people in this poll refusing to answer the question?

    What are they hiding at this point?

    This reminds me of the pre-general election polling on HERO.

  2. Robbie Westmoreland says:

    On the advice of counsel, I must decline to tell you why I won’t reveal for whom I’m planning to vote.

  3. Jim Casey says:

    I think that this combined with the high early voting turnout in districts C,G, and E really bodes well for King.

  4. Joshua ben bullard says:

    Here are the results for election night bill king 50.8% and turner at 49.2%.king wins.

  5. Julain Deleon says:

    It will take a ‘great’ ground game to win at this point.

  6. Paul Kubosh says:

    I agree with Joshua

  7. Mainstream says:

    2:20 p.m. and turnout is slow in one sector of the Heights. Not a good omen for Turner or other D candidates.