Day 2 EV 2015 totals: Why I’m using 2013 as my basis for comparison and not 2009

But first, here’s yesterday’s Chron story about Day One turnout:


Turnout as of the first day of early voting in Harris County more than tripled from 2009, when Houston last elected a new mayor, though it is too soon to project whether overall participation will be up.

More than 23,000 county residents cast a ballot, 8,889 of whom voted in person Monday and another 14,240 by mail. By contrast, the county clerk recorded 4,089 in-person votes and 2,073 mail votes on the first day of early voting in 2009.

Political observers cautioned that a single day’s turnout is not necessarily predictive of how many votes will be cast.

“Usually these numbers aren’t a harbinger of anything except the competitiveness of the race,” University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said, adding that the share of ballots cast early has increased in recent years. “My guess is turnout will be up, but this may not be the best indicator of it.”

You may have noticed that I used 2013 as my basis of comparison for Day One; one commenter specifically asked why I didn’t use 2009, the last year with an open-seat Mayoral race as my basis. The short answer is that from a turnout perspective, the two years are nearly identical:

2009 ballots cast = 181,659
2013 ballots cast = 177,560

2009 Harris County voters = 257,312
2013 Harris County voters = 260,437

In addition, the trend in recent years is for more people to vote early, and there are more people voting by mail as well.

Year        Day One    Total   Day 1 %
2009 mail     2,073   11,445     18.1%
2009 EV       4,089   71,368      5.7%
2009 total    6,162   82,798      7.4%

2013 mail     8,560   24,022     35.6%
2013 EV       5,028   87,931      5.7%
2013 total   13,588  111,953     12.1%

Note that these are all Harris County totals, not city of Houston totals. We won’t know those for sure till we start seeing results on Election Day, though we can figure it out as we go if we have access to the daily roster. A spreadsheet of the daily totals for 2009 is here if you want to follow that along. As you can see, early voting in 2013 was up almost 40% over 2009, with higher mail totals and more Day One participation, but in the end total turnout in the city in both the city and the county were about the same. Another way of looking at this is to consider the share of early voting for each year:

Year            Mail   In person   All EV    Total   EV %
2009 Houston  10,152      52,276   62,428  178,777  34.9%
2009 Harris   11,445      71,353   82,798  257,312  32.2%

2013 Houston  20,297      60,140   80,437  174,620  46.1%
2013 Harris   24,022      87,931  111,953  260,437  43.0%

Note that these are the Harris County-only totals for Houston, which is why they are a bit less than the overall numbers cited above – they don’t include Fort Bend or Montgomery Counties. Basically, the share of all early voters – mail and in person – jumped by eleven percentage points between 2009 and 2013. I for one expect the share of early voters this year to be much closer to 2013 than 2009, so given the similarity in overall turnout, I prefer to use 2013 as my basis for comparison to this year.

And with all that said, here are your Day Two totals:

Year    Early    Mail   Total   Mailed
2015   18,283  16,065  34,348   41,563
2013   10,338  10,424  20,762   29,215

The running 2015 totals are here, and the full 2013 totals are here. The usual pattern for early voting is for it to be a bit flat, sometimes at a lower level than the first day and sometimes at a slightly higher level, until the last day or two. The last days in 2009 and 2013 were both much higher than any of the days preceding them. We’ll keep an eye on the pattern as we go along as well.

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4 Responses to Day 2 EV 2015 totals: Why I’m using 2013 as my basis for comparison and not 2009

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Interesting analysis, yet, extremely sad that so few people avail themselves of a right that many people have died for.

  2. byron schirmbeck says:

    I know you probably sit there some times and wonder why you do this. Just so you know, I have gone over precinct and voting data in depth before too so I know that a lot of what you do is tedious and boring. But thank you for doing it, it isn’t wasted effort.

  3. Bill,

    Are you refering to veterans or the civil rights movement?

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