Most years we don’t get the data to differentiate between votes cast by residents of Houston and votes cast by Harris County non-Houston residents. There needs to be a citywide referendum of the ballot in order to get at this data. Fortunately, we had that this year, so we can take a look at how the races of interest shaped up. The usual caveat applies here, which is that this data is not exact. There are multiple precincts that are partially in Houston and partially not in Houston. Many of them have a tiny number of Houston-specific votes in them, with a much larger contingent of non-Houston votes. Counting these as Houston precincts means you wind up with a lot more total votes in Houston than were cast in the referenda elections, and gives you a distorted picture of the candidate percentages. I filter out precincts with ten or fewer votes cast in the Houston proposition elections, which is arbitrary and still yields more total votes than in the prop races themselves, but it’s close enough for these purposes. So with all that preamble, here’s the data:
Candidates Houston Not Hou Hou% Not% =============================================== Beto 317,736 277,917 63.43% 46.22% Abbott 175,533 314,728 35.04% 52.34% Collier 312,803 273,337 62.81% 45.64% Patrick 171,319 312,803 34.40% 51.84% Garza 312,022 272,513 62.83% 45.61% Paxton 170,642 309,499 34.36% 51.80% Dudding 294,958 255,993 59.69% 43.03% Hegar 185,671 324,329 37.58% 54.52% Kleberg 296,878 257,563 60.34% 43.45% Buckingham 184,006 323,967 37.41% 54.65% Hays 308,304 269,169 62.61% 45.36% Miller 184,139 324,228 37.39% 54.64% Warford 290,364 251,323 59.02% 42.41% Christian 181,355 319,465 36.86% 53.91%
To be clear about what this data shows, Beto won the city of Houston by a margin of 317,736 to 175,533, or 63.43% to 35.04%, while Greg Abbott carried the non-Houston parts of the county 314,728 to 277,917. This is about 493K ballots cast for those two candidates, which doesn’t count third party and write-in candidates or undervotes; I didn’t tally them all up but we’d be at around 510K total ballots defined as being “Houston”. In actuality, there were 486K total ballots cast, including undervotes, in the city prop races. Like I said, this is plenty good enough for these purposes.
As noted, I don’t have a whole lot of data for this from previous elections, but what I do have can be found in these posts:
There were city propositions in 2010, for red light cameras and ReNew Houston, but I didn’t do the same city-versus-not-city comparisons that year, almost certainly because 2010 was such a miserable year and I just didn’t want to spend any more time thinking about it than I had to.
Looking back at those earlier years, Beto fell short of the top performers in Houston, which in 2008 and 2012 was Adrian Garcia and which in 2018 was himself, but he did better in non-Houston Harris County. That’s consistent with what I’ve said before about how Democrats have overall grown their vote in the former strong Republican areas, while falling short on turnout – this year, at least – in the strong Democratic areas. Note how even the lowest scorers this year exceeded Obama’s performance in non-Houston by three or four points in 2008 and four or five points in 2012, while doing about as well in Houston. As I’ve said, Harris County is more Democratic now. This is another way of illustrating that.
Here’s the same breakdown for the countywide races:
Candidates Houston Not Hou Hou% Not% =============================================== Hidalgo 294,968 257,935 59.79% 43.39% Mealer 198,286 336,434 40.19% 56.59% Burgess 290,267 255,860 60.14% 43.81% Daniel 192,368 328,119 39.86% 56.19% Hudspeth 293,030 256,624 60.84% 44.00% Stanart 188,573 326,633 39.16% 56.00% Wyatt 293,352 256,862 60.86% 44.00% Scott 188,623 326,849 39.14% 56.00%
No third party candidates here, just a write-in who got a handful of votes for County Judge, so the percentages mostly add up to 100. More or less the same story here, with the distinction between Houston and not-Houston being smaller than in prior years. There won’t be any citywide propositions in 2024, not if we have them this coming November, but I’ll try to use the precinct data I have here to analyze that election. In what should be a stronger Democratic year, I’ll be very interested to see how things change. As always, let me know if you have any questions.