Initial thoughts on the 2024 primary

Some opening considerations as we peruse the final unofficial voting data. Before you read my words, go check out Stace, Campos, Reform Austin, and the Texas Signal. Here we go:

– Final turnout in Harris County was 176,396 for Dems and 203,085 for the GOP. About 59% of Dems voted early, about 54% of Republicans voted early, which means that 2024 was most like 2022 for Dems in terms of when the vote happened, and pretty similar to four of the six most recent primaries for Republicans. Maybe early voting turnout is trending higher for primaries as it finally did for city elections, but remember that in 2028 Dems won’t have an incumbent President on the ballot, and I am extremely hesitant to guess what effect that might have.

– I still don’t have an exact total of registered voters yet, so I don’t know what turnout as a percentage of RVs was. I expect we’ll have that when the official canvass comes out. In terms of volume, 2024 was slightly higher than 2018 and 2022 for Dems and slightly better than 2020 for Republicans.

– Most of the comparisons people make for the Dem side is with 2016 or 2020, but I think 2012 is the closest comparison, since it was the last time we had a Presidential primary with an incumbent President with no serious challengers. As far as that goes, President Biden got 84.59% of the vote statewide, which compares reasonably favorably to President Obama’s 88.18% that year. Obama’s opponents were the definition of no-names – I’ll give you $1 right now if you could name any of those people without clicking that link or using Google. That said, Stace noticed some less than stellar numbers for Biden in some heavily Latino counties, and a cursory glance on my part affirms this. I’ll wait to see Stace’s analysis, but it’s fair to say there’s work to be done.

– Or maybe it was just one of those weird things.

A little-known Democratic presidential candidate vowing to put former President Donald Trump on trial for treason went viral after his unexpectedly strong Super Tuesday performance in South Texas.

Armando Perez-Serrato, a Californian running a protest campaign against President Joe Biden, racked up thousands of votes in at least three Rio Grande Valley counties’ Democratic primaries, peeling off support for the incumbent.

Perez-Serrato, who also wants to give Trump the death penalty, according to his website, landed nearly 5,000 votes in Hidalgo County’s Democratic primary, coming in second place with 15% of the vote. Biden won around 66% of the vote there.

Perez-Serrato also performed unexpectedly well in neighboring Cameron County, garnering nearly 2,000 votes and coming in second place with 11%. In Webb County, he pulled 14% of the electorate, or 2,500 votes.


Other than being staunchly anti-Trump, Perez-Serrato’s platform includes a 50% bump in monthly social security checks and recognizing an independent Palestinian state, which some social-media onlookers said might have contributed to his Tuesday surprise.

I look forward to the New York Times sending a reporter to a diner in Brownsville asking Perez-Serrato supporters about their reasons for their preference.

– As noted yesterday, Rep. Jarvis Johnson and Molly Cook are in the primary runoff for SD15. They are also two of the four candidates that filed for the May 4 special election – to be held on the same day as the HCAD election, which is the uniform election date for May – along with Michelle Bonton and Todd Litton. No Republican, no randos, just those four Dems. The primary runoff is May 28, which means the possibility of the primary winner and the special election winner being two different people is still in play. It seems to me that the idea situation is for the special election to go into a runoff with Johnson and Cook as the candidates, so that the eventual loser of the primary runoff can withdraw from the special election runoff and save us all the bother. Light a candle or two for this between now and May 2, will ya?

– Colin Allred avoided a runoff for US Senate, Julie Johnson avoided a runoff in CD32, and outside of SD15 there are like seven legislative runoffs. Turnout for the Dem primary runoff will be brutally small. There just aren’t that many races. One place where there won’t be a runoff is in Johnson’s soon-to-be-former legislative district, HD115, where Cassandra Hernandez won with 58% in a three-candidate field.

– Annette Ramirez will face Desiree Broadnax in the Tax Assessor runoff. I like her chances – she led Broadnax by 23 points, and the two trailing candidates (Jerry Davis and Danielle Keys) were more experienced and better fundraisers. Broadnax may have gotten a first-candidate-listed-on-the-ballot benefit.

– The total runoff lineup for Harris County Dems: SD15, HD139, HD146, 14th Court of Appeals Place 3, 486th Criminal District Court, Tax Assessor, and Constable Precinct 3. Tax Assessor and the two judicials are countywide, the others will depend on where you live.

– Republicans have seven Congressional runoffs, five in blue districts plus CDs 12 and 23, and multiple runoffs for SBOE, State Senate, and State House. There will be a lot more billionaire theocrat money getting spent.

– Gillespie County did finish its hand count of primary ballots by yesterday before noon, so good for them. They only had 8K ballots to count, which made it possible to do in a non-hopeless time frame. I’d bet if they counted again, they’d get different numbers, but I suppose as long as no one sues no one will ever have to consider that possibility in an official capacity. Votebeat provided a recap of the adventure.

Bruce Campbell, chairman of the Gillespie County Republican Party, predicted that results from the 13 GOP precincts would start trickling into the county elections office by 8:30 p.m.

By 9:30 p.m., he expressed surprise that none had returned.

Shortly after, he informed county Elections Director Jim Riley it might be hours before workers finished hand counting the thousands of early and mailed ballots — a task they’d begun at 7:30 that morning in a glass-walled tasting room at a winery called The Resort at Fredericksburg.

“Are you kidding me?” Riley said.

Campbell wasn’t kidding, or even hedging. In the end, the counting took all night long.


It was not the efficient process Republicans envisioned, though one carried out with no visible calamity. From start to finish, the process took almost 24 consecutive hours and involved around 200 people counting ballots. It remains to be seen if any of the candidates on the ballot will challenge the results, or whether this count will withstand next week’s official canvass. Texas law only requires that elections conducted on electronic tabulation equipment undergo a partial recount, so there is no such requirement here.

“You saw how this went,” Riley told Votebeat at 5 a.m., when all party members had departed the office. “This was a circus.” He said he’d withhold judgment on whether the count was accurate because he didn’t have eyes and ears in the rooms where it happened.

For their part, the Democrats conducted their primary with the help of the county using the same machines they’ve used for a few years. Even with paperwork delays and a minor glitch at one polling location, the party was finished counting all of its ballots — around 700 of them — by 10 p.m. It was a light year, as many reliable Democratic voters in the bright red county chose to vote in the Republican primary in order to participate in a contested sheriff’s race.

Campbell said the party’s “original goal” was to have “enough volunteers that we finished counting before the Democrats did.”

“Clearly, that didn’t happen,” he said.

They’re ready to do it again. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way. I’ll have more thoughts tomorrow.

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2 Responses to Initial thoughts on the 2024 primary

  1. Beth says:

    I think the special election is May 4, no?

  2. Beth, yes, May 4. My bad. It’s fixed now. Thanks!

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