As predicted, we had over 30,000 more Democratic votes cast on the last day of early voting - 33,100, to be exact, for a grand total of 170,032; 9,787 Republicans showed up to bring their final tally to 51,199 - which as we all know by now is completely unprecedented.
"It's an unprecedented primary turnout," said Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, referring to the early voting that ended Friday.
Kaufman noted that through the years the number of citizens opting to vote early has risen from less than 20 percent to more than 30 percent of the total primary vote.
"That could mean we would vote another 500,000 people on Tuesday," she said.
She added that the office is prepared for "a long night" Tuesday.
"The biggest problem facing workers at the polling places is crowd control," she said.
Nick Beaudrot has revised his final statewide turnout estimate back up based on the extra-high numbers from Thursday and Friday:
The range of overall turnout is between 1.85 million at the low end (based on 2006) to 2.85 million at the high end (based on 2004)--more than John Kerry received in 2004--with the most likely figure probably around 2.4 million.
Eye on Williamson takes a look at who the voters are in his county.
The results from [Friday] are not yet available, but there's already plenty of data to analyze from the first 10 days of early voting.
2,814 voters with Republican voting histories cast ballots in the Democratic primary. They made up 15.66% of the vote. 194 voters with Democratic voting history cast ballots in the Republican primary. They were 1.89% of the R vote.
15,979 voters have no history of ever voting in a primary before 2008. They were 56.59% of the total primary vote. Those wanting to know why turnout in the primary doubled this year can look to this group for an answer. New voters made up substantially more than half the vote. Those new voters broke 74% to 26% for the Democratic primary.
To put that into perspective, consider this: More than 65% of the Democratic primary voters have no prior primary voting history. That is nearly two-thirds!
But since that 15% figure has come up, here's Paul Burka to put it in some perspective.
The early vote totals for Democrats continues to be phenomenal. At the end of the day on Thursday, the next to last day of early voting, here were the statewide numbers:
Democratic primary voters: 696,696
Republican primary voters: 223,631
Some numbers crunchers believe that the Democratic numbers were swelled by Republicans voting in the Democratic primary, accounting for as much as 15% of the total. So, let's subtract 15% of the voters (104,504) from the Democratic total in the state's fifteen largest counties and add them to the Republican side:
This is still a dominant performance. It is reminiscent of what Texas politics used to be like, back in the seventies and eighties. The Democrats always outvoted the Republicans in the primaries, because the contests for local offices kept conservatives in the Democratic primary. Then, in the fall, the conservatives would vote Republican. When the rural areas flipped Republican, due to the emergence of cultural issues and the appeal of Phil Gramm in rural Texas, the Democratic party went into a decline that lasted twenty years. Now the votes are in the big metro counties.
Burka says he'll return to the what-does-it-mean-for-the-fall question later. Professor Murray gets the jump on him.
Does this huge primary vote swing mean Texas is heading into the Democratic presidential column in 2008 for the first time since 1976? Probably not, because there are many barriers to a Democratic triumph in the Lone Star State on November 4, 2008. To mention just a few, the Democrats will likely have a number of more attractive targets nationally as they analyze the red-blue map of 2000 and 2004 - such as Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Missouri, and Nevada. Texas is also a very expensive state to contest, and without a single statewide elected Democrat to help, building a competitive electoral organization will be a daunting challenge. Plus, a goodly number of the swollen Democratic primary voters will likely shift back to their "normal" preference for Republican candidates once the exciting Hillary Clinton - Barack Obama contest is settled.
Nevertheless, the huge shift in primary voting has got to cause concern among Republican strategists. In my opinion, the 3-1 Democratic voting edge is another sign of the continuing devaluation of the GOP brand that statewide polls have been measuring since 2004. The issues that worked well for Republicans in their ascendancy to power (God/Guns/Gays) have been overshadowed by unhappiness with the progress of the war in Iraq, economic worries, and the sense that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Reflecting the emergence of issues that have not worked nearly as well for Republicans in recent years has been the declining popularity of the most visible Republican leaders in Texas, President Bush and Governor Perry. They are, of course, not on the ballot in Texas in 2008, but we will get an indirect measure of how deeply this dissatisfaction with the party that has dominated state politics for a dozen years really is in contested Texas House elections across the state this fall. Republican Speaker Tom Craddick has watched his party's 88 - 62 advantage in the House of Representatives drop to 79 - 71, meaning a net shift of five seats would give the minority Democrats a share of state power for the first time since 2002.
And finally, the last word goes to Michelle, who recounts her experience voting yesterday:
I hadn't planned on voting [Friday], but I am glad I did (instead of waiting until next Tuesday as I had planned). Jessica Farrar was at the voting site and I got to say hello, shake her hand and thank her. (That's my yard sign showing my support for her.) The line was really long, but it was even long by the time they closed the doors at 7. I waited in line for an hour and a half. I have never waited that long ever, not even close to that. There were all sorts of people there and everyone in line around me was very friendly, and 100% Democrats. I felt really sorry for the poll workers. They all seemed terribly tired.