Parker Takes Long Lead
by: Laurie Johnson, December 10, 2009 10:12:41 pm
Annise Parker has maintained a lead over her opponents throughout the campaign season, but never by such a significant margin.
The KUHF-11 News survey shows 49 percent support Parker, compared to 36 percent for Gene Locke. Another 15 percent were undecided. Parker is leading among most groups, but the bump in support comes from an unlikely source.
"What we see is that the Roy Morales vote, the anglo Republicans on the west side. Annise Parker's getting 55 percent of that to Gene Locke's 29."
That's Bob Stein, a political scientist at Rice University. Stein authored the survey of 442 registered Houston voters.
He says Locke courted the conservative vote and sought the endorsement of Republican activist Steven Hotze, but the strategy didn't have the desired effect.
"I think Annise Parker was simply able to demonstrate to voters that she's been doing the job for six years as controller and she closely allied herself with Bill White on more than one occasion in mailings and TV ads and in the debates. I think the other was simply that the Hotze — this relationship with Hotze and the alleged relationship with an anti-gay activist I think probably hurt him with white, progressive voters."
Parker also picked up a significant percentage of the African-American vote, a group Locke is relying on to pull out a win. The survey shows 23 percent of black respondents say they already have voted or plan to vote for Parker.
Long-time Political Analyst George Strong says a win for Locke isn't impossible, but will take a lot of work.
"If I was running the Locke campaign, I would be putting my entire money into get out the vote. And that means knocking on doors and giving people a ride to the polls. And I'm sure Annise is doing the same thing."
Strong says the KUHF-11 News survey, which was conducted this week, reflects the last minute decisions voters are making two days before the election.
"I think everybody has anticipated that it's going to be a close election. After all, they're not too much divided on the issues. And so it's a unique election: an African-American versus an openly gay person. And I would think it's going to be a lot closer than your poll, but who knows? People have a tendency to be making up their mind right about now as to who they're going to vote for."
Both analysts say any way you look at it, Parker has the advantage. But one thing they've learned over the years is not to count the votes before they've been cast.