A new poll shows Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire maintain an overwhelming lead in the Houston mayoral race with less than a month until election day. Data shows other candidates in the crowded field have struggled to make headway among voters.
The Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston published a poll in July, before campaign season was in full swing, showing Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire with the vast majority of support among voters. A second poll released Tuesday showed, three months later, the pattern still holds. Among the two of them, they hold 65 percent of the vote, with 22 percent of voters still undecided.
The data suggests Whitmire has an edge over Jackson Lee, with not only a higher percentage of voter support but also seemingly more potential to win over undecided voters.
"Of the undecided voters, 53 percent of them said they would never vote for Sheila Jackson Lee," said Renee Cross, senior executive director of the Hobby School.
By contrast, 16 percent of undecided voters said they would never vote for John Whitmire.
"Senator Whitmire has been successful, I believe, in creating a coalition of voters, including some Democrats, Republicans and Independents," Cross said.
According to the poll, Jackson Lee has the support of the majority of Democrats and Black voters, while the majority of Republicans, Independents, white voters and Latino voters support Whitmire.
"It still appears to be a two-person race, even with the amount of money spent by some of the candidates," Cross said. "It is so close to being exactly as it was in July. That itself is a surprise."
Cross said she expected, as the election neared, other candidates would have gained some traction among voters. In reality, public opinion has remained relatively stagnant.
The next 5 candidates each currently have the support of 5 percent of voters or less, according to this latest poll.
"Anything is possible, but more than likely, we will see Whitmire and Jackson Lee on the run-off ballot in December," Cross said.
Early voting starts Oct.23. Election day is November 7.