The Corner

Elections

Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Including the Turnout This Year

People wait in line to cast their ballots for the upcoming presidential election as early voting begins in Houston, Texas, October 13, 2020. (Go Nakamura/Reuters)

More than 9 million Texans cast their ballots early by Thursday, surpassing the total number of ballots cast during the entire 2016 presidential election, according to the Texas secretary of State.

The AP writes, “Voters in Texas do not register by party affiliation, so no one can be sure until the ballots are counted whether one party or the other will benefit from the surge in turnout.”

No, but if you had to guess, you would surmise that the higher turnout is at last slightly better for Democrats than Republicans. The demographics friendliest to Republicans — older voters, whites, middle class and upper-class — are among those who turn out every year. The demographics friendliest to Democrats — younger voters, Latinos, and lower-income workers — are less certain to turn out.

In 2014, 33 percent of registered voters turned out, the lowest turnout this century. Those who did were mostly Republicans, as that midterm election year was one of the best years for Texas Republicans in ages. Greg Abbott won the governor’s race by 20 points over Wendy Davis, Jon Cornyn won his Senate race by more than 27 points, the GOP picked up a state senate seat and three state house seats, and no Democrat running statewide got more than 38.9 percent of the vote.

That year, exit polls indicated the Texas electorate was 66 percent white, and 69 percent making $50,000 per year or more. Only 14 percent of voters were between the ages of 18 and 29.

In 2018, 53 percent of registered voters turned out. While Texas Republicans kept the governor’s mansion and Senator Ted Cruz was reelected, Texas Democrats had a much better day. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke didn’t win, but his coattails helped the Democrats flip two U.S. House seats, one state senate seat, and twelve seats in the state house.

That year, exit polls indicated the Texas electorate was 56 percent white, and 65 percent making $50,000 per year or more, and 16 percent were between the ages of 18 and 29.

Very broadly speaking, a voter pool that has more minorities, lower-income workers, and young voters is better for Democrats.

But not every new voter is likely to vote Democrats. In the Texas governor’s race, Lupe Valdez won more 1.7 million votes than Davis had won four years earlier. But Abbott increased his 2014 vote total by more than 1.8 million votes.

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