Clinton Leads Trump in Harris County

UH Hobby School of Public Affairs poll shows accelerated political shift, no effect on top county races

Poll results released today by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs show that Hillary Clinton has a 10-point lead over Donald Trump among registered voters in Harris County, the largest county in Texas and third largest in the nation. Clinton leads Trump 42 percent to 32 percent, with nine percent supporting Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, two percent backing the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and 15 percent undecided.

If the numbers hold, it would represent the widest margin of victory for a Democratic presidential nominee in Harris County since 1964, the year Lyndon B. Johnson was elected president. He received 59.5 percent of the Harris County vote.

Clinton’s lead narrows to only four points, 43 percent to 39 percent, among voters who say they are extremely likely to cast a ballot this November.

“The results suggest that the outcome of the presidential contest in Harris County, as well as the results of dozens of down-ballot contests, could hinge heavily on the level of voter enthusiasm and turnout,” said Jim Granato, professor and executive director of the Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Harris County’s support of Clinton accelerates the trend of the once-solid Republican county to one favoring the Democratic candidate. Harris County has voted for the Democratic candidate during the last two presidential elections, with Barack Obama narrowly defeating his Republican rivals John McCain (50.45 percent to 48.82 percent) and Mitt Romney (49.39 percent to 49.31 percent).

The UH Hobby School poll finds no evidence of national Republican concern that Trump’s unpopularity within the party will negatively effect down ballot races. In the race for Harris County District Attorney, among the voters extremely likely to cast a ballot this fall, incumbent Republican Devon Anderson narrowly bested Democrat Kim Ogg, 30 percent to 29 percent, while incumbent Republican Ron Hickman led Democrat Ed Gonzalez 36 percent to 30 percent in the contest for sheriff. A plurality of voters is unsure about their preference for district attorney (47 percent) and sheriff (36 percent).

“Neither party can depend on presidential coattails or incumbency, frequent mainstays of politics,” said Renée Cross, associate director and researcher at the Hobby School. “With only six weeks to go, the county candidates have a lot of work to do in this highly unpredictable election.”

Poll results are based on 550 telephone interviews conducted among Harris County registered voters as part of a larger Hobby School of Public Affairs study on voter participation and engagement. The poll, conducted September 1-20, was developed by Granato, Cross, Hobby School research associate Mark P. Jones, and researchers Ching-Hsing Wang and Wyman Wan. 

Complete poll results are available here.