HARRIS COUNTY - For politicians, public approval is the "coin of the realm" and in these turbulent days it can be hard to come by.
In the nation's fourth-largest city, a first-time officeholder appears to be rising above the rest.
At 29 years of age Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is being labeled the most popular public office holder in the Greater Houston Area.
Seasoned by her leadership through local disasters and a global pandemic, Hidalgo attracted a favorable rating from more than half of those surveyed by the University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs.
What's more, 25 months into the job Hidalgo drew a thumbs up from a whopping 78 percent of Democrats in a metropolitan area that's become thoroughly "Blue".
"Lots of people know her and they like the job she is doing. She would be impossible to beat in the Democratic primary and be extremely difficult to defeat in the general election," said Rice Political analyst Mark Jones who collaborated with the Hobby School on the survey.
"Judge Hidalgo has been a breath of fresh air since she got into the office. She really hit the ground running, putting together an amazing team and has been delivering on her campaign promises the entire time she has been elected. She has stepped in and been an advocate for being safe and responsible during Covid and I think people have responded to that really well," said Lillie Schechter who chairs the Harris County Democratic Party.
If there is a vulnerability for Hidalgo and other Democrats, it lies in growing fears over public safety.
The Hobby survey found the recent increase in violent crime has risen to rival flooding as the top concern of folks in Harris County regardless of age, race or gender.
"There is a latent or potential issue in violent crime for a Republican candidate in 2022. Whether they are actually able to mobilize people behind it, it is in an issue that, in theory, could resonate with the population," said Jones.
Among the potential successors for Sylvester Turner as Houston Mayor the Hobby School survey found Police Chief Art Acevedo to be far-and-away the most popular of the possible candidates presented.