January 19, 2024 6:00am

Power Poll plurality predicts Biden win

About half of respondents said they expect President Joe Biden to win re-election. Forty-two percent said it'll be Donald Trump.

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Austin, TX Correspondent
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Election ’24 is under way. We know because an Iowa GOP electorate with roughly the same number of participants as there are people in Sugar Land, Texas got the contest going with its GOP caucuses that Donald Trump won with about the same number of votes as there are people in DeSoto, Texas.

So Power Poll asked its Austin-area participants to get out their crystal balls and tarot cards to weigh in with predictions on who will be putting a hand on the Bible and taking the presidential oath of office on Jan. 20, 2025.

Power Poll, which checks in with local business, community, governmental and political leaders, also asked whether Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, who is up for re-election this year, has earned another term. It would be his fourth, counting two served from 1997-2001. He stepped down in 2002 to make an unsuccessful race for Texas attorney general, losing to now-GOP Gov. Greg Abbott.

Watson represented the Austin area in the Texas Senate from 2007 through April 2020.

Power Poll’s presidential race question asked respondents to predict who will win, not who the respondents want to win. Just under half said President Joe Biden will repeat his 2020 victory. But just over half said it will be somebody else in the Oval Office next Jan. 20.

Forty-nine percent predicted a Biden win. Forty-two percent said voters will make former President Donald Trump the next president. A scant three percent predicted a win by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (the poll was completed prior to DeSantis' Jan. 21 withdrawal from the race), two percent said it will be former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Four percent said it will be someone else. And another 1 percent said it will be someone else who’s not currently in the race.

In the Austin mayoral race, a nonpartisan contest, the Power Poll wrapped up just prior to former Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo's Jan. 18 announcement that she will seek the post. Power Poll results indicate she - or any challenger - could have a tough time against Watson, who has indicated he'll be on the ballot.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said Watson’s performance since returning to the mayor’s office in January 2023 has earned him another term. Only 13 percent said he has not earned re-election. But 22 percent said it depends on who runs against him.

Watson squeaked into office by defeating former state Rep. Celia Israel in a December 2022 runoff by less than one percentage point after running second to her in the first go-round. Israel this year is running for Travis County tax assessor-collector. Incumbent Democrat Bruce Elfant is not seeking re-election to that post.

Power Poll also dug into area respondents’ restaurant tipping habits. It’s a topic that’s drawn some ire in recent months as resturants increasingly use automated payment devices that offer the possibility of large tips while your server is watching you pay the tab.

Sixty-five percent of Power Poll respondents said 20 percent is their standard tip, assuming standard service quality. Nine percent said 15 percent is their go-to restaurant gratuity and seven percent said it’s a generous 25 percent.

Ten percent said it “greatly varies depending on the quality of service” and another nine percent said it’s time to abolish tipping in favor of including the service cost in the price of the meal.

FYI, one percent said their standard tip is 10 percent.

The final Power Poll question this month involves the national sport of Central Texas, college football. It’s a whole new ballgame on the gridiron (and other fields and courts) with the rapid rise of so-called "name, image and likeness" deals that offer big money to players and the increasing use of the “transfer portal” that allow student-athletes to bounce from one school to another.

Thirty-one percent sided with the notion that “the entire situation is out of control and needs overhaul.” Only 23 percent of respondents said they’re OK with the new world of college sports. Sixteen percent said some restrictions are needed on NIL payments. Twenty-five percent said they’re OK with the system but that some limit should be placed on the number of times a student-athlete can transfer without sitting out a season.

Only five percent said NIL is a bad idea and “a free ride athletic scholarship is payment enough.”

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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