Democrats flocked to the polls in droves during early voting for the 2018 Texas Primary Election. One estimate places Democrat voting numbers up about 100 percent compared to the last gubernatorial primary season in 2014.
Texas Secretary of State Spokesman Sam Tayler told Breitbart Texas that in normal gubernatorial primaries about 10 percent of registered voters turn out in the Republican primary and five percent in the Democratic primary. “This year, we expect to see about 10 percent of the registered voters cast their ballots in each of the two main primaries,” Taylor said.
Taylor cautioned that the early voting numbers reported on the Secretary of State’s website reflect the results of the top 15 counties in terms of registered voters. Texas has 254 counties.
After the first day of early voting in the Texas primaries, Breitbart Texas reported that Democrat voters were turning out in record numbers. Texas Election Source looked at the 15 counties with the most registered voters and Democrats were voting 102 percent above what they voted in the last gubernatorial election in 2014. Republican voting was down four percent from 2014 and down seven percent from 2016.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Texas Governor Greg Abbott emailed campaign supporters after about a week of early voting. Abbott alerted them that early voting results “should shock every conservative to their core.” The decades-long elected official added, “We’ve seen a surge of liberal enthusiasm in deep red states like Georgia, Alabama, and Oklahoma.”
“We had always hoped the liberal wave would never hit Texas,” Abbott continued, “but these early voting returns aren’t encouraging so far.”
Friday was the last day of early voting and figures from the Secretary of State’s website shows that statewide, 465,245 Democrats and 420,329 Republicans voted in the historically red state in the top 15 counties.
The total number of all voters in all primaries in 2014 was 1,358,074 Republicans and 560,033 Democrats. The numbers reflect 9.98 percent of registered GOP voters voted compared to 4.12 percent of registered Democrat voters.
University of Houston Professor Brandon J. Rottinghaus told Breitbart Texas at the onset of early voting that Democrats usually vote at half the rate of Republicans in the primaries. Accordingly, they do not have the voter lists to use in November general elections and in midterms. “A Party wants a robust primary to go back to in November.”
“This is a step for Democrats to have potential voters to talk to in November,” he said.
The Houston-based political expert added, “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.
During NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday panelists speculated on whether Texas Democrats could turn Texas blue. The media outlet reported that using figures from the Texas Secretary of State, Democrat voting during the Texas primaries was up 102 percent. Republicans were up sixteen percent.
Looking at the Cook Political Report, NBC reported that four Republican congressional House races were “in the battleground category for the 2018 midterms. Panelists noted that three of these districts went for Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election. These districts are TX-07, TX-32, TX-21, and TX-23. There are 18 Republican candidates vying to replace retiring Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) in the 21st Congressional District.
Heavily contested and competitive primary races are fueling voter turnout in the state where there are races for U.S. Senator, 36 congressional districts, a governor and lieutenant governor race, and numerous races for Texas State Senate and House districts, including many where incumbents are being challenged.
Governor Abbott tweeted early Monday morning: “Texas Republicans: if you don’t like this score you can change it tomorrow. Go vote on Tuesday & take someone else to go vote. If you’ve already voted call 2 people and get them to go vote. Let’s #KeepTexasRed. #tcot @TexasGOP.”
Texas Republicans: if you don’t like this score you can change it tomorrow. Go vote on Tuesday & take someone else to go vote. If you’ve already voted call 2 people and get them to go vote. Let’s #KeepTexasRed. #tcot @TexasGOP pic.twitter.com/BZesA3M0EA
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 5, 2018
The screenshot of a television showed Sunday’s Meet The Press reporting that Democratic voting was up 102 percent from 2014. Republican voter turnout increased just 16 percent.
Vox places early voting numbers in Texas at approximately a 90 percent Democrat participation increase over the last gubernatorial election in 2014. This number is even above the higher-interest 2016 presidential election, the outlet reported. They place Republican early voting figures up 17 percent but trailing the 2016 turnout and said that the Democratic “energy is beginning to spook Republicans in the state.”
Statewide races to watch include the race for incumbents Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Bush, who ran with little opposition in the last Republican primary, has three Republican challengers, including his immediate predecessor, former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. Patterson vacated the position when he ran for Lieutenant Governor against incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Patterson, Todd Staples, and Dewhurst all lost to then-state Senator Dan Patrick.
Prior to entering the political arena by becoming a state senator, Patrick was a popular conservative radio talk show host on Houston’s AM 700 KSEV.
Another race to watch is Texas SD8 which opened after State Senator Van Taylor announced his candidacy for the U.S. House seat vacated by Republican Sam Johnson from Plano. The Senate district race pits Angela Paxton, wife of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, against Phillip Huffines, the twin brother of Texas state Senator Don Huffines (R-Dallas).
Governor Greg Abbott endorsed several candidates in Texas State Senate and House races, including Houston’s Susanna Dokupil who has challenged moderate Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) in House District 134.
Other incumbents facing opposition in Texas State Senate or House races include Republican Senators Bob Hall, Joan Huffman, Craig Estes, and Kel Seliger.
Other hotly contested Republican incumbent state representatives races include Dan Flynn, Chris Paddie, Ernest Bailes, Wayne Faircloth, Scott Cosper, Hugh Shine, J.D. Sheffield, Mike Lang, Kyle Biedermann, Ken King, Giovanni Capriglione, Charlie Geren, Jason Villalba, and Lyle Larson.
Two state Democrats who have been in the center of criminal trouble, also have challengers. The Texas Tribune wrote in December that Ron Reynolds (HD27) could finish his term in prison if he wins his re-election bid. The lawyer recently lost an appeal of his 2016 convictions on five misdemeanor battery charges. If sentenced to jail, he would not have to resign. Rep. Dawna Dukes (HD46) was cleared last year after she was indicted on 13 felonies and two misdemeanor charges.
Professor Jay Kumar Aiyer, politics and policy professor at Texas Southern University, told Breitbart Texas at the onset of early voting that there is generally “push-back” against the Party whose president is in power, and that was true when President Obama was in office. He said that this political voting cycle is different because it is being driven by the Democrats’ animosity for President Donald Trump. “This is different from in the past, this president is pretty unpopular as compared to last presidential candidates,” Aiyer said.
Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz reportedly warned Republicans at a gathering that the GOP “could get obliterated at the polls” in November. He said Democrats will “crawl over broken glass in November to vote.”
The November election will be an issue of what political party gets the most voters to come to the polls. In November 2014, Politifact reported that Texas appears to have had the lowest voter participation among all of the states in the U.S. that had a governor’s race. The Texas Tribune reported in March 2016, that Texas still had the second lowest voting-age participation rate in the Democrat and Republican primaries. Only Louisiana ranked lower.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, Gab, and Facebook.