HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As early voting began Monday, a new poll revealed how tight the race is for Harris County judge.
Harris County Judge's race is a "Statistical Dead Heat"
New numbers show the race between Lina Hidalgo and Alexandra Mealer is extremely tight.
"This is a statistical dead heat," Mark Jones, Rice University political science professor, said.
Jones is one of the people behind the new Hobby School of Public Affairs poll on the Harris County judge's race.
"What's happened is we've gone from a slight Hidalgo lead to a slight Mealer lead," Jones explained. "National factors are aiding Mealer that the Biden administration is unpopular, and people continue to be very concerned about crime and public safety in Harris County."
The poll reveals that Mealer has 47 percent of the vote and Hidalgo has 45 percent. Eight percent of voters are still undecided.
"There are some democrats out there that are going to vote for Beto O'Rourke but they're still uncertain who they're going to vote for in the county judge race, and Hidalgo needs those votes if she's going to win," Jones explained.
Poll reveals what are the top issues on voters' minds as they head to the polls
Jones says one reason for Mealer's surge is the top issue. The poll found the most significant issues for all voters are crime and public safety followed by government corruption and voting rights.
For Mealer's supporters, they're concerned about crime and public safety, government corruption and immigration. Hidalgo's supporters worry about voter rights, racial equity and abortion.
"Crime and public safety is the dominant issue and that gives a real advantage to Alex Mealer because a plurality of Harris County voters believe she is the one who's best suited to handle the county's strong problems with crime and public safety," Jones explained.
With early voting underway, Jones says the poll shows just how important voting is.
"The county judge race is a great example of the axiom, every vote matters, because that's a race that may be decided by a handful of votes one way or another," Jones said.
"We anticipated our race would be close": Hidalgo campaign responds to new poll as well as her opponent
ABC13 reached out to both candidates about Monday's poll.
Here is what the Hidalgo campaign sent to ABC13:
"Judge Hidalgo successfully led Harris County through natural disasters and a global pandemic - all while making record-breaking investments in public safety and overhauling systems that did a disservice to our county. We anticipated our race would be close, especially given the millions of dollars poured into our far-right opponent's campaign from known extremists, election deniers, anti-voting rights leaders, and developers eager to roll back regulations that help stop flooding to make a profit at our expense. We are confident voters agree with Judge Hidalgo's vision for Harris County, and they will re-elect her as county judge." campaign spokesperson, Toni Harrison said.
ABC13 also heard from the Mealer campaign who said they were not surprised at parts of the new poll:
"As early voting gets underway, the new University of Houston - Hobby School of Public Affairs poll is solid confirmation that residents want new leadership in Harris County. It's unprecedented that after starting as an unknown, in just seven months of general election campaigning, Lina and I are in a dead heat. And the two reasons I chose to enter this race, crime and government corruption, are the top two issues for the vast majority of voters in our county. To those who are skeptical about my ability to execute my campaign promises, I would just say that if you think I am moving fast on the campaign trail, imagine how fast I can run once in office with a full team behind me," Alexandra Mealer statement on new poll said.