If a new poll is accurate, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s campaign has a lot of work ahead to win her runoff election for mayor of Houston.
She trails state Sen. John Whitmire, a fellow Democrat, by 7 percent (42 percent to 35 percent), with 22 percent of voters undecided, Houston Public Radio reports.
Voters split along racial lines, with about two-thirds of Black Houstonians supporting Jackson Lee and the same percentage of White voters backing Whitmire. However, analysts expect low Black voter turnout.
"For whatever reason, Black voters are not as enamored with Sheila Jackson Lee as they were with Sylvester Turner (the current, term limited mayor),” the University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said, adding that she would need “tremendous turnout in the African American community” to win.
Whitmire, who received several glowing endorsements from elected Latino officials, dominates the Latino vote, 43 percent to 23 percent.
Republicans and conservatives are a large share of undecided voters. Whitmire, a moderate Democrat, is their preferred candidate. Many voters view Jackson Lee as too liberal on issues important to voters, including public safety.
Whitmire has promised to bring 200 state troopers to Houston while the city beefs up police recruitment. On the other hand, Jackson Lee has emphasized tackling crime by addressing the social causes, including unemployment, and using violence intervention methods.
While the two candidates are tied among female voters, males prefer Whitmire by 17 percent. There’s also an age divide. Jackson Lee has a high level of support among voters under 50, but they tend to vote at lower rates than older viewers who prefer Whitmire.
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