Skip to main content

City of Houston Election 2023

With less than four weeks until Election Day, who has emerged as the top contender for mayor of the nation’s fourth-largest city? Who among the seventeen mayoral candidates will likely make the almost certain runoff election? And who is leading in the race for city controller? Will voters support the local propositions? What policy issues are of most importance to Houstonians? Which issues are driving the decisions of Houston voters? 

To address these questions, the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston conducted a survey of Houstonians who are likely to vote in the November 2023 mayoral election. The survey was fielded between September 30 and October 6, 2023 in English and Spanish. The representative survey population of 800 has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

The results of the survey are presented in a series of two reports. The first report examines the mayoral and controller races in November and the mayoral runoff in December, along with two local propositions on the ballot in the general election. The second report focuses on policy issues facing the City of Houston.

Report One. Mayor, Controller & Propositions


The race for the next mayor of Houston is in a dead heat between state Senator John Whitmire (34%) and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (31%). Tied in third place are former city councilmember Jack Christie (4%) and former Metro chair Gilbert Garcia (4%).


If no candidate obtains more than 50% of the vote on November 7, a December runoff will be held between the top two finishers. If a mayoral runoff election between the two current frontrunners Jackson Lee and Whitmire would occur, 50% of likely voters would cast a ballot for Whitmire and 36% for Jackson Lee, with 9% undecided and 5% indicating that they would not vote in the mayoral runoff if these two candidates were on the ballot.



In the race for Houston city controller, almost half of likely voters (45%) remain undecided a month before Election Day.

Among the 55% of likely voters expressing a vote intention in the 2023 general election for city controller, 29% intend to vote for Chris Hollins, 14% for Orlando Sanchez, 8% for Dave Martin and 4% for Shannan Nobles.



City of Houston: 57% support the City of Houston’s Proposition A, which would allow an item to be placed on the council agenda with the agreement of three council members. The mayor currently has sole agenda-setting authority.


Harris County: 59% of Houston likely voters support the Harris County Hospital District’s Proposition A, a $2.5 billion bond to upgrade facilities and expand services within the county’s public health care system.


Read Report One to learn more about where Houstonians stand on the candidates for mayor and controller, a potential mayoral runoff election, favorability ratings and local propositions, including differences of opinion when considering gender, age, race/ethnicity and partisanship.

Media Release, Oct. 12, 2023


Report Two. Policy Issues and Priorities

Houstonians are closely divided between those who believe things in the City of Houston are headed in the right direction (49%) and in the wrong (51%) direction.


As was found in the Hobby School’s July 2023 report on the City of Houston election, crime remains at the top of Houstonians’ concerns just a few weeks before Election Day. 46% of likely Houston voters rate crime as the most important issue facing the city, with economic inequality (11%) and rising property taxes (10%) distantly rounding out the top three concerns.



On a similar note, when the respondents were asked how much of a priority they believed eight different policy issues should be for Houston’s mayor to address in the next four years, 82% of likely voters ranked crime as the top policy priority.


The respondents were also asked if they would support or oppose Houston’s next mayor implementing four distinct policies to reduce crime in Houston. Among the four policies presented, an absolute majority of likely voters strongly supports hiring an additional 600 HPD officers (62%), improving relationships between HPD and the African American and Latino communities (57%), and allocating $25 million for mental health professionals to be dispatched to mental health crises (56%). 


Among the survey’s other findings, more than half of voters (58%) oppose instituting a trash collection fee to defray the cost of trash and recycling pickup. 17% said they support a monthly $25 fee, and an additional 25% said they support a monthly fee between $20 and $30, depending on bin size.


Read Report Two to learn more about where Houstonians stand on the issues facing the city, including differences of opinion when considering gender, age, race/ethnicity and partisanship.

Media Release, October 18, 2023


Extreme Weather Events and Migration

Researchers also asked Houstonians about moving out of the region following extreme weather events, including Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and other flooding events in the years before. The questions regarding whether Houstonians considered leaving Houston were exclusive to Houston Public Media's Houston Matters with Craig Cohen. The findings were shared in an interview on Oct. 18, 2023

table- Considered moving out of Houston

table-weather as a reason why you would move


Research Co-Investigators

Renée Cross, Senior Executive Director & Researcher, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Mark P. Jones, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy's Fellow in Political Science, Rice University; Senior Research Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs 

Research Team

Maria P. Perez Argüelles, Research Associate, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Savannah Sipole, Research Associate, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Agustín Vallejo, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs