Early voter turnout in the state's 15 largest counties is up 91 percent over 1998, bolstering Democratic hopes in the statewide races.
The three biggest increases occurred in urban counties with long histories of Democratic voting -- Bexar, Hidalgo and Travis -- according to early voting numbers released Tuesday by the Texas Secretary of State's office.
Early voting also is up in Republican counties -- especially Montgomery and Fort Bend in suburban Houston and Collin in suburban Dallas -- which did not start early voting until Monday.
Montgomery and Fort Bend counties, both Republican strongholds, were also both up over 100%, but in much smaller absolute numbers: 1,147 to 2,818 for Montgomery County and 490 to 1,170 for Fort Bend. Only Galveston County, which dropped nearly in half from 3,283 to 1,610, had a decrease. Williamson County replaced Lubbock in the top 15 and has a total of 3,903 so far (no 1998 number was given; Lubbock's number for 1998 was 853). Overall, the total went from 56,873 to 108,532.
1998 was an aberrant year in several ways. Dubya, who was already being talked about as a Presidential nominee, ran basically unopposed. There was no Senate race in 1998. The extreme weakness at the top of the Democratic ticket had an effect on several down-ballot elections, where John Sharp lost to Rick Perry by less than 70,000 votes in the Lt. Governor race and Carolyn Keeton Rylander squeaked by in the Comptroller race by 20,000 votes. Just the fact that there are viable, high-visibility candidates for Governor and Senate should at least help bring Democratic turnout back to normal levels. Where they go from there is going to be the key.Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 23, 2002 to Election 2002 | TrackBack