Poll Shows Mayor Lee Leffingwell With Near-20 Point Lead Over Brigid Shea

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Burnt Orange Report PAC and Capital Area Asian American Democrats conducted a poll last week of likely voters in this May's municipal elections. The poll was an IVR poll of voters who had cast a ballot in either 3 of the last 3 city elections or 2 of the last 3 city elections. Results are below. The percentages are not weighted.

Austin Mayoral Election
Total Raw # Female Male 3/3C 2/3C
Leffingwell 45.4% 179 48.5% 41.1% 47.8% 42.5%
Shea 26.9% 106 28.1% 25.2% 27.6% 24.8%
Dafoe 13.7% 54 10.0% 19.0% 12.5% 16.3%
Undecided 14.0% 55 13.4% 14.7% 12.1% 16.3%
TOTAL 100.0% 394 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Leffingwell leads among 3/3 and 2/3 voters, he leads among women, and he leads among men. It is not clear how Shea spins these results to her advantage, given that she's almost 20 points down overall. If every undecided voter in this poll broke for her, she would still trail Leffingwell. Traditionally, undecideds break in proportion to the decided voters, so if that were the case here Leffingwell would easily top 50% while Shea would struggle to surpass 30%.

In general, however, the electorate looks fairly decided. Early voting begins next week, and given the number of forums in this city it's possible that every voter has already seen the candidates in person several times. (Just kidding. Sort of.) The barrage of TV and mail have yet to arrive, but again Leffingwell enjoyed such an overwhelming fundraising advantage over Shea that it is not clear how she marshals the resources to persuade voters to support her. There's no clear demographic here that seems to be breaking her way, and there are few undecided voters in the poll. Additionally, Leffingwell has won the lion's share of the endorsements in the race, as a broad range of organizations have chosen to throw their weight behind re-electing the Mayor. Leffingwell has received 21 endorsements to Shea's 8 and Dafoe's 1.

The poll also surveyed which local news source was most trusted by voters on city issues: the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Chronicle, or Austin Business Journal. The results are below, along with which candidate each news source's readers prefer.

Most Trusted News Source of Austin Voters
Total Raw # Leffingwell Shea Dafoe Undecided
Statesman 55.1% 172 55.8% 23.8% 11.0% 9.3%
Chronicle 28.8% 90 44.4% 38.9% 8.9% 7.8%
Biz Journal 16.0% 50 34.0% 16.0% 32.0% 18.0%

A few key take-aways here: readers most trust the Statesman, followed by The Austin Chronicle with Austin Business Journal bringing up the rear. Again, Leffingwell leads in all categories, though his margin among Chronicle readers is narrower than that of the Statesman. However, the poll suggests that the readership of the publication clearly favors Leffingwell and not Shea, despite the increasingly manifest viewpoints of the publisher.

The support for Dafoe is heavily male and strongly favors the Austin Business Journal, which suggests that a certain segment of Republican voters are choosing him as their “protest vote” over the two self-identified Democratic candidates, Leffingwell and Shea. Dafoe rings up 13.7% overall in the poll, and outperforms that percentage with men and people who most trust the ABJ. Whether Dafoe will do that well on May 12th remains to be seen. He may be the beneficiary of voters turning out for the various challengers in Places 2, 5, and 6.

Overall, the poll is positive news for Leffingwell — he has a large lead over his main challenger, who is struggling to get to 30%. However, it's incumbent on Leffingwell's supporter to get themselves, their friends, and their colleagues out to the polls to make sure the Mayor wins handily on May 12th. Early voting begins Monday, April 30.  


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  1. rosannescott on

    Leffingwell Lead
    I'm standing with the “Ladies for Lee.”  The Mayor's steady leadership during the most challenging of economic times finds Austin as a standout among America's best cities. We are the envy of a nation: not surprising that the Mayor enjoys a 20-point lead among women voters.  

  2. Looks Like a…
    …Runoff to me.  Let's see if the old man can go another month in delaying key votes before the Council and without breaking down, into a worse limp.

    • Stop Abusing the ratings system
      The top comment on this thread was not something you would rate a 1- disagreeing which candidate someone supports is not the qualification for how ratings work.

  3. BTW…
    …a sample of 50 to 180 means NOTHING.  Your margin of error on that is so huge that your results are meaningless.  Hacks wouldn't care about that, though.

    • BTW
      The margin of error on 394 respondents for even the entire City of Austin is 4.9% but since this was a poll of likely voters it's actually less. So in reality, Leffingwell would be more likely to be over 50% than anywhere close to tied to Shea.

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