A survey released today by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs illustrates Harris County’s continuing move toward the Democratic Party, with Democrat Hillary Clinton beating Republican Donald Trump by seven points and several high-profile down-ballot Democratic candidates showing similar momentum.
Clinton received support from 43 percent of Harris County voters who said they are certain or very likely to vote, compared to 36 percent for Trump. If those numbers hold, they would mark a far higher margin of victory for Clinton in Texas’ largest county than that for Barack Obama, who beat Republican John McCain by 1.63 percent in Harris County in 2008 and Mitt Romney by less than 1 percent in 2012.
In the race for Harris County District Attorney, Democratic challenger Kim Ogg leads incumbent Republican Devon Anderson by 7 points, 40 percent to 33 percent. Incumbent Republican Sheriff Ron Hickman is in a statistical tie with Democratic challenger Ed Gonzalez, with Hickman ahead by 1 point, 37 percent to 36 percent.
The latest survey appears to show a decided shift toward the Democratic Party in Harris County over the past four weeks, when an earlier Hobby School survey showed district attorney candidates Anderson and Ogg in a virtual tie, 30 percent to 29 percent, and Hickman beating Gonzalez 36 percent to 30 percent. Because the wording of questions on the two surveys was not identical, Hobby School officials said it is difficult to draw direct comparisons.
A Hobby School statewide survey released Tuesday found that Trump leads Clinton by only 3 percentage points in Texas, equal to the margin of error.
“Harris County is a good deal more blue than the rest of Texas,” said Richard Murray, political science professor and director of the Hobby School’s Survey Research Institute, noting that Romney carried the state by 15 points in 2012, while Obama won Harris County by a narrow margin.
“It is not surprising that while Donald Trump had a three-point lead statewide, he trails Hillary Clinton by seven points in Harris County,” Murray said. “This reflects the fact that Harris County has a larger percentage of African-American voters (than the state as a whole) and a somewhat smaller Anglo voter percentage."
The new survey also found that with less than three weeks until election day, a high percentage of voters remain undecided.
Six percent of Harris County voters support the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson, 1 percent back Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and 15 percent chose “undecided,” “none of the listed candidates” or declined to answer.
Both major party presidential candidates have high unfavorable ratings among Harris County voters. Trump is rated “very unfavorably” by 53 percent of voters while Clinton is rated “very unfavorably” by 43 percent.
In addition to the apparent shift toward down-ballot Democratic candidates, the District Attorney’s race demonstrated voters shifting between parties. When examining choices by party identification, 11 percent of Republicans said they will vote for Ogg and 6 percent of Democrats will vote for Anderson.
The survey results are based on live telephone interviews with 400 registered voters in Harris County who reported that they were certain to vote (77 percent) or very likely to vote (23 percent) on or before Election Day on November 8, 2016. The sample was weighted to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the electorate based on the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
Interviews were conducted by Customer Research International between October 7 and October 15, and the margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.5% at the 95 percent confidence level. The survey was conducted under the supervision of survey co-directors Murray and Robert Stein, research associate at the Hobby School.
Survey results, including questions regarding voter perception of illegal voting and photo ID, are available here.