Texas Democrat Voters Turning Out in Record Numbers for Primaries

Voting Lines
AP File Photo: Rick Bowmer

Democrat voters are turning out in record numbers in the primaries in the historically politically-red Lone Star State. Experts say the Democrat Party wants a robust primary so they can go back to these voters and get them out for the November election.

The actual figures reported for the first day of early voting in the Republican and Democrat primaries are at this link on the Texas Secretary of State website.

Looking at the 15 counties with the most registered voters, Texas Election Source reports that results for the first day of early voting in Texas show Democrats voted 102 percent above what they voted in gubernatorial election year 2014, and 10 percent above their voting in presidential election year 2016. By contrast, voting among Republicans is down four percent from 2014, and down seven percent from 2016.

Texas Election Source reported that the percentage of registered voters that went to the polls or returned ballots by mail on the first day of voting is 0.42 percent.

Like 2018, 2014 is a gubernatorial election year, and thus voting comparisons are made to that year.

The historically largest politically red percentage voting county in Texas, Montgomery County, saw a 395 percent Democrat voting increase over 2014. Republican numbers in the county that includes Republican contested races for county judge and county commissioners, and a contested Texas State House position, among others, is up just nine percent, reported Texas Election Source.

Harris County in the Houston area had Democrats voters up 139 percent, and Republican voters down 14 percent. The totals of 9,647 Republican votes to the 8,007 Democrat votes include in-person and mail-in-ballots, the Texas election analysis source reported.

Harris County County Clerk Stan Stanart told Breitbart Texas that there were “lots of ballot by mail applications but the numbers were not as high as in 2008 when President Obama was elected.” That year, most Republican officeholders and jurists lost their positions in what had been a red-voting county for many years. Stanart said Democrats could decide to use these voting rolls in their get out the vote efforts.

Harris County’s chief election clerk said it is too early to know, but it looks like the turnout will be greater than 2014, the last gubernatorial cycle.

In Tarrant County, Democratic voting is up 82 percent, while the Republican vote is down 12 percent from 2014. Democratic voting at the polls in and around San Antonio in Bexar County is 31 percent higher than in 2014 and 11 percent lower for Republicans. This figure does not include ballot-by-mail voting.

Collin, Denton, and Galveston county participation has been “fairly high” as described by one political science professor. Nueces County has been an exception to that unusually high Democratic 2018 turnout.

University of Houston Professor Brandon J. Rottinghaus told Breitbart Texas that the “clear spike” in Democrat voting gives “Democrats reason to be enthusiastic but not celebratory.” He added, “There is a lot of time between now and the general election.”

Rottinghaus told Breitbart Texas that Democrats usually vote at half of what Republicans do in the primaries, so they do not have the voter lists to use in the general election in November. This is why Democrats have not been as successful in midterm elections. “A Party wants a robust primary to go back to in November,” he said. “This is a step for Democrats to have potential voters to talk to in November.”

The UofH political professor said there had not been a lot of “cross-over voting.”

Moreover, the Houston-based political expert said, “Some counties have had an increase in the percentage of voters who have never participated.” He explained that these voters could be first-time voters or voters that are new to Texas.

This year the Democratic primary is loaded with contested campaigns, including those running for governor.

Professor Jay Kumar Aiyer, politics and policy professor at Texas Southern University, told Breitbart Texas that “Overall, turnout is good for both Parties.” He also added that in general, the larger counties are driven by local races.

Aiyer noted that the congressional seat in CD-7 for long-term incumbent John Culberson’s seat, and in CD-32 for incumbent Republican Pete Sessions’ race, was kicking up the voter anthill.

The contest for retiring Congressman Lamar Smith in Texas’ CD-21 is also driving voter participation. There are 18 Republicans and four Democrats vying for that position. Attendance is being somewhat driven by the bid to replace Democrat Rep. Gene Green in CD-29. Green has represented that district since 1993.

The Texas Southern University professor explained that there is less Republican statewide interest because the top of the ticket is largely uncontested. It is the congressional and local races that get the turnout, he said.

Aiyer says it is too early to tell, we “probably need a week or so, but Republican voters will probably be the same as in 2014 which was a good year.” He contrasted the Democrats by saying their numbers have been “much higher pretty dramatically statewide.” He explained that Democrat motivation is being driven by “(1) contested races, and (2) the national tendency for the Party out of power to come out.”

The political and policy professor said while there is “push-back” against the Party whose president is in power, and that was true when President Obama was in office, this political cycle is driven by the Democrats’ feelings about President Donald Trump. He explained, “This is different from in the past, this president is pretty unpopular as compared to last presidential candidates.”

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on GAB @lanashadwick and Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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