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Pollster Connected to Turner Administration

By Urban Reform Staff | Sep 25, 2019


A recent poll sparked a conversation about the state of the Houston mayor’s race and the viability of incumbent mayor Sylvester Turner’s challengers, but was there an ethical responsibility to the public to identify that the chief pollster is connected to the Turner administration?

The poll was conducted by Rice University political scientist Bob Stein. Stein happens to be married to Martha “Marty” Stein, who Turner reappointed as chair of the Houston Planning Commission in 2017.

This isn’t to say that the poll should be ignored or discredited, but is there not a duty to notify the public that it was conducted by someone whose spouse directly benefits by seeing the mayor reelected?

Stein’s poll shows Turner winning under all circumstances.

According to the poll, if the election were held today, 36.5 percent of respondents would vote to reelect Turner while 22 percent were still undecided. 19.2 percent of respondents favored attorney Tony Buzbee and 9.6 percent favored Bill King.

In the end, the connection to the Turner administration may not amount to much in terms of the accuracy of the polling, but if KHOU and Houston Public Media knew, they should have disclosed that to the public, if they didn’t it was a major oversight.

*An earlier version said Stein had a direct interest in seeing the mayor elected, but has been edited to reflect his spouse benefitting from the mayor’s reelection. 

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