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Day One Ev totals for 2016 primaries

Day One of the 2016 primary election early voting is in the can. Woo hoo! How’d we do yesterday?

Year       Dem      GOP
2008    10,049    4,130
2012     6,214   13,407
2016     9,636   12,720

For your reference, the 2016 totals are here, and the 2012 totals are here. I don’t have daily EVPA totals from the Harris County Clerk for 2008, so my reference for those numbers is the SOS archive for 2008, with the Day One Dem totals here and the Day One GOP totals here.

What did people think was going to happen? Here’s what the Chron had to say yesterday morning.


In Harris County, 56 percent of Republican voters cast an early or absentee ballot two years ago, up from 39 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, 59 percent of Democrats voted before Election Day in 2014, up from 44 percent in 2008.

Nonetheless, Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said the combination of Texas’ earlier primary date and the fast-changing nature of the presidential race could delay voting.

“It could end up skewing the early voting turnout, how strong it is, and have more people voting on election day than I anticipated,” Stanart said. “I was anticipating we’d probably do 52, 55 percent of our total vote early. Now it could be almost a 50/50.”

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones agreed.

“This election we may see at least a partial break in that upward trend, because some voters are going to want to wait to see if anything changes in the dynamics of the primary before casting their vote,” Jones said.

In the presidential race, 155 Republican and 252 Democratic delegates are up for grabs in the March 1 primary in Texas.

Voters also have the opportunity to weigh in on several state, judicial and local races.

Harris County’s Republican and Democratic party chairs predicted above-average turnout.

In addition to Cruz and Trump, the Republican race features Bush, who has deep Texas roots, as well as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

“The biggest thing that’s going to affect Harris County is that the Republican presidential race is still alive. It’s still a very active fight when it gets to Texas on March 1,” Harris County Republican Party Chairman Paul Simpson said.

He said Harris County may see voters waiting to cast a ballot until the second week of early voting, after South Carolina’s Republican primary on Saturday.

“We may have a large surge of votes in the second week of early voting,” Simpson said. “This time it could be significantly higher proportionately just because of the constantly shifting fortunes in the race.”

Republicans caucus in Nevada next Tuesday, while Democrats caucus Saturday. South Carolina Democrats go to the polls on Feb. 27.

Lane Lewis, Harris County’s Democratic Party chair, said he expects turnout to be up this year but not to top 2008, when Clinton and President Barack Obama helped to drive Democratic participation in the county past 410,000.

In 2012, that figure dropped to about 76,000.

“I have certainly seen a very high interest in Bernie’s and Hillary’s campaigns, so I think that’s going to drive a lot of primary voters out,” Lewis said.

Given that the GOP total has actually lagged behind what it was after Day One in 2012, I’d say it probably is the case that people are taking their time. As for the Dem side, so far so good. Bear in mind that only about 40% of the crazy vote total in 2008 came from early ballots. Some 230,000 people voted on primary day back then.

What kind of overall turnout do we think we’re going to get? From the Trib:

“I think Republican turnout is going to blow the doors off,” said Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart. “We’re planning on 100,000 more than we’ve ever done before.”


This year, requests for mail-in ballots in Harris County had already hit a record as of late last week, Stanart said. He projected 55,000 voters would request one before the Feb. 19 deadline — up from the last high, 37,000, set four years ago.

All told, Stanart said he expected close to 400,000 people will cast primary ballots in the state’s largest county. Whereas Democrats dominated interest in 2008, Stanart predicted three-quarters of the turnout in Harris County will be on the Republican side, where native son Ted Cruz and New York billionaire Donald Trump are duking it out at the top of a shrinking list of GOP candidates.

Stanart may be right about the magnitude of the Republican vote, but he’s seriously underestimating the Dem total if he thinks 100K is the limit. Certainly, the warring factions in CD29 are planning for considerably more than that. A fraction more than 50% of the Democratic primary vote in 2012 was cast early; it was a bit less than 50% on the GOP side. I won’t be surprised if people are hanging back a bit on the Dem side as well, waiting to hear more from the candidates and see how things go. There’s a ton of mail going out from the various local candidates, and I get at least one candidate robocall a day as well. I fully expect to see some robust numbers.

You can ride Metro for free to any early voting location if you wish. Given the parking situation at the West Gray multi-service center, I’d strongly consider that. I’ve been tracking endorsements for various Democratic candidates on my 2016 Election page, and if you need more, here are who my blogging colleagues Perry, Wayne, and Stace are supporting. Stace also has some excellent videos of candidates speaking at the recent Meyerland Dems meeting. There’s plenty of information out there, so make your choices and make your voices heard.

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  1. voter_worker says:

    You mentioned parking at West Gray Multi-Service Center. Since today you’re also highlighting Mayor Turner’s transportation initiatives, it’s worth noting that at least two of the early voting centers are directly on METRORail and just a few steps from the stations: Downtown at 1001 Preston St, and Moody Park at 3725 Fulton St. Very convenient with no parking issues, and probably lacking West Gray’s line, as well.

  2. brad m says:

    In 2008, do you think there was any impact on early Dem voting % based on some folks wanting to vote very late in the day in the primary date and then waiting around at that polling location for the caucus portion of the two part “Texas Two Step” which also allocated delegates?

    I did this in 2008 as opposed to making two trips.

  3. […] mail ballots, while their share of the mail ballots returned is 57.6%. Not sure how we get to that three to one turnout ratio that Stan Stanart predicted, but it is still early […]

  4. […] as a reminder, here’s what Stanart said before any in-person ballots were […]