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Dueling runoff polls: King 48, Turner 43 (HRBC) – Turner 47, King 40 (internal)

From the inbox yesterday morning:

Bill King

Bill King

The Houston Realty Business Coalition (HRBC) released a poll of 300 active voters today measuring support of Mayoral candidates in the December runoff election.

“Bill King has built a broad base of support throughout the City of Houston,” said Chairman Alan Hassenflu. “Bill King is the only candidate offering thoughtful solutions to the fiscal disaster facing the City of Houston. King’s message of getting back to basics has earned him the support of our organization and is resonating with voters who are concerned with the current fiscal crisis facing City Hall.”

The survey shows voters across Houston are seeing past Sylvester Turner’s negative campaign and looking towards Bill King to fix the City’s financial mess. Only 9% of Houston voters say they have yet to decide who they will support in the upcoming election.

Founded in 1967, HRBC, comprised of top business leaders, has become Houston’s Premier Business Coalition by supporting public policy, elected officials and candidates for elected office that promote its core values of limited government, capitalism and private property rights.

BALLOT:
In the upcoming runoff election for Mayor, if you had to choose, would you be voting for Bill King or Sylvester Turner?

 
Bill King                 48%
Sylvester Turner          43%
Undecided                  9%

METHODOLOGY:
The sample size for the survey is 300 likely voters in Houston, Texas. The margin of error is +/- 4.00%. All interviews were completed using automated telephone technology and were conducted December 1, 2015 by Causeway Solutions. The total percentages for responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.

Demographics:
Female 56%, Male 44%
Democrat 38%, Independent/Other 28%, Republican 34%
African American 28%, Hispanic 10%, Other 12%, White 50%

HRBC had the one poll from the November election that correctly had HERO losing, and they were the only pollster to show King with a clear lead over Adrian Garcia. As such, I would not dismiss this result. That said, there are a few curious things about it. Three hundred is an unusually small sample size – most public opinion polls have samples of at least 400. I’ve never seen one with a sample as small as 300. Moreover, the margin of error for a sample size of 300 would be 5.65%, not 4.00%. That would be the MoE for a sample size of 600, but I doubt they’d be able to get responses from 600 likely voters in one day. Whatever the case, one of those numbers is not right. The partisan mix is likely too light on Democrats, but at this point it’s all about who shows up. It’s too early to draw any conclusions on that from early voting.

I originally wrote this post to say that I expected there would be more polling soon enough. Like clockwork, this hit my inbox later in the day:

Sylvester Turner is the favorite to be elected Mayor of Houston in the December 12th runoff election. A survey of Houston voters likely to cast a ballot in next week’s runoff election shows Turner leading Bill King by 7-points (47%-40%), with 13 percent undecided. Turner has capitalized on his first place finish in last month’s general election by building momentum with key segments of the electorate. In addition to his strong base of support among African-Americans, Turner leads by 12-points among self-described moderates (47%-35%), and voters who vote most frequently in the City’s December runoff elections prefer Turner by a 9-point margin (49%-40%).

Table 1: Vote for Mayor of Houston


Vote for Houston Mayor Percentage

Sylvester Turner              47%

Bill King                     40%

Undecided                     13%
Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner

The survey also shows Turner campaign’s voter outreach program to be highly effective as Turner holds a 28-point (58%-30%) lead among respondents who report being contacted directly by a representative of either candidate. This finding demonstrates the strength of Turner campaign’s communications, and shows voters respond to his message of moving Houston forward.

Sylvester Turner is in a strong position in the final days of the campaign for Houston Mayor. He continues to expand his base of support as his voter outreach program gives him an advantage over his opponent. With sufficient resources to continue public communications through Election Day, Sylvester Turner is on track to be elected Mayor of Houston.

Methodology: From November 29-30, 2015, FM3 completed 604 telephone interviews on landlines and cell phones with randomly selected City of Houston voters who are likely to participate in the December 12th Mayoral runoff election. The margin of sampling error is +/-4.0% at the 95% confidence level; margins of error for population subgroups within each sample will be higher. Due to rounding, not all totals will sum to 100%.

Note that this has a more normal sample size, and that the MoE calculation is correct. The email that accompanied the poll document noted the MoE weirdness from the HRBC poll and stated that their poll included cellphone users, whom the automated HRBC poll was not allowed to call. Of course, with internal polls you never know if there were other results that were discarded, and in this case we don’t have the question wording, so apply an appropriate level of skepticism. (By the same token, recall that the HRBC is a supporter of King’s.) Like I said, it’s all about who turns out. PDiddie has more.

HRBC poll: Turner 24, King 18

Looks like we’re going to see more polling than usual this cycle. This was sent as a press release from the Bill King campaign, which was kind enough to forward the full poll data to me when I requested it:

Thursday, the Houston Realty Business Coalition (HRBC) released a poll of 428 active voters measuring support of Mayoral candidates and important issues facing city voters. The Survey was conducted October 5-6.

“Bill King is the clear choice among fiscal conservative voters,” said Chairman Alan Hassenflu. “Bill King’s message of getting back to basics has earned him the support of our organization and is resonating with voters who are concerned with the current fiscal crisis facing City Hall.”

The poll shows King has emerged from the pack of major mayoral candidates running very close to the presumed frontrunner. Only 13% of Houston voters say they have yet to decide who they will support in the upcoming election.

Founded in 1967, HRBC, comprised of top business leaders, has become Houston’s Premier Business Coalition by supporting public policy, elected officials and candidates for elected office that promote its core values of limited government, capitalism and private property rights.

BALLOT: If the election for Mayor was held today and these were your choices: Ben Hall, Sylvester Turner, Adrian Garcia, Bill King, Steve Costello, and Chris Bell, who would you vote for?

Ben Hall 8 Sylvester Turner 24 Adrian Garcia 14 Bill King 18 Steve Costello 8 Chris Bell 11 Other 4 Unsure 13

HERO ORDINANCE: Do you support the City of Houston’s Prop 1 ordinance, often referred to as the HERO ordinance – the law among other things would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity?

Support 31 Oppose 40 Unsure 13 Refused 16

PENSION: Currently the City of Houston has $3.1 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and has little to no control of the pension funds. Would you support a proposal that would return control of pension funds to the Mayor and allow him to negotiate necessary changes to the current pensions?

Support 31 Oppose 21 Unsure 30 Refused 19

METHODOLOGY:
The sample size for the survey is 428 targeted voters in Houston, Texas. The margin of error is +/- 4.77%. All interviews were completed using automated telephone technology and were conducted October 5-6, 2015 by TargetPoint Consulting. The total percentages for responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.

Full poll data is here. I said yesterday that we might get another poll that doesn’t agree with the HAR poll, I just didn’t expect one so quickly. A couple of things to note: One, in comparison to the HAR poll data, this sample is more Republican, but also younger and slightly less white. I’m gonna guess that means more west side/Clear Lake/Kingwood and less Montrose/Heights/Meyerland. It also highlights the importance of how questions are asked. Note here that the HERO question only refers to “sexual orientation or gender identity”, whereas the HAR poll mirrors the ballot language, which lists all the protected classes under HERO. This is Polling Methodology 101 here, and it’s no coincidence that HAR supports HERO while the HRBC opposes HERO and has backed a slate of candidates (including King) that opposes it as well. There’s nothing wrong with this approach – needless to say, it’s the way HERO opponents are doing their messaging, and very much the way they want people to think about Prop 1 when they vote – but it doesn’t mean this sample is “wrong” and the other one is “right”. It means that messages and campaigns matter, which is why it’s nice that HERO proponents have plenty of resources to get their message out.

UPDATE: Here’s the Chron story, which makes the same points I do.