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Early voting: Did I mention today is the last day?

Yes, today is the last day of early voting. Vote today, or wait till Tuesday. Today is likely to be very busy, possibly busier than Tuesday at your usual polling place, but I’d still try to cast my ballot today if I were in that position. But regardless, you have today and you have Tuesday. Please make sure you vote, and please make sure everyone you know votes.

If you do participate in early voting, you’ll be part of a record breaking crowd to do so.

Ten days into this year’s 12-day early voting period, 2.7 million people in the state’s 15 largest counties had cast their ballots, compared to 1.7 million who had voted at the same point four years ago.

There’s still a little time left — today is the final day of early voting before Tuesday’s election.

The Secretary of State’s Office has kept day-by-day voter turnout statistics for 15 counties since 1996. This year’s early balloting has surpassed the 2.4 million total in those counties in 2004.

Statewide, 3.7 million people voted early in 2004. The total number of Texans voting in that year’s presidential race was nearly 7.5 million.

Secretary of State Hope Andrade will release her estimate of 2008 voter turnout in the next few days.

Here’s the Texas Weekly chart. Note first that both of these are only through Wednesday. We had another 77,139 voters in Harris County yesterday, bringing the in-person total to 591,027 and the overall total to 643,529. I do think we’ll fall short of 700,000 in-person early votes, though there’s still an outside possibility. My guess would be 675,000 early votes, which should yield about 730,000 total votes. That’s still mighty impressive. (BOR projects 305,000 early votes for Travis County.)

If the ratios from 2004 hold up, 2.7 million early voters from the Top Fifteen means we’ve surpassed 4 million early voters statewide. Going by the Texas Weekly chart and adjusting a bit to account for the extra volume of the last two days, I’d guess we’ll wind up with about 3.4 million early votes from those counties, which is to say almost as much as the entire statewide early vote total from 2004. That would mean a bit more than 5 million early votes statewide. I think it’s safe to say that if that’s the case, the early vote total will be more than half of the final amount. Let’s guess that 60% of all voters will have cast their ballots by the close of business today. That puts statewide turnout at about 8.3 million, or 61.5%. If the same ratio holds for Harris County, we’ll have about 1.18 million votes. I think that’s the low end for Harris – I won’t go as far as PDiddie, but I think we’ll easily surpass 1.2 million, and might reach 1.3 million.

And again, we come to the question of who it is that’s doing all this voting.

Leland Beatty, a Democratic consultant, said 42 percent of early voters had voted in Democratic primaries and 20.6 percent in Republican primaries.

Republican pollster Mike Baselice said he thinks Democratic early voting numbers are high because so many participated in the primary between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. He said some of those voters will vote Republican in the general election.

“Nobody should be that excited about the turnout this far,” he said.

Well, I agree that Mike Baselice probably shouldn’t be all that excited, but he’s cordially invited to speak for himself on this one. You may recall that according to Paul Bettencourt, eight percent of voters in the Democratic primary in Harris County this year had “some” history of voting in the Republican primary previously, while two percent were “hard Rs”. So yes, “some” of these early voters that are identified as Democrats – and note that Beatty says they had “voted in Democratic primaries”, not that they had “voted in this year’s Democratic primary” – will be voting R. How much is “some”, that’s the question.

Finally, for what it’s worth, I got the following in an email from the Ginny McDavid campaign:

Per early voting totals as of Tuesday evening, I ranked second among the Democrats challenging Republicans in the 4 competitive seats in Harris County in the ratio of Democratic Primary Voters over Republican Primary voters in the Early Vote totals:

1) Thibaut (District 133): 1.7 Dems to 1 Republican
2) McDavid (District 138): 1.5 Dems to 1 Republican
3) Redmond (District 144): 1.3 Dems to 1 Republican
4) Matula (District 129): 1.2 Dems to 1 Republican

I make no warranty as to the pedigree of those numbers – among other things, I don’t know if this makes the “any Dem history” versus “voted Dem this year only” distinction – but they are in line with the overall trends, and also with what I’ve heard from other sources. As has been the case all along, I’ve heard some bright optimism concerning Democratic prospects based on the EV numbers so far, and some dismal pessimism. You can see whatever you want to see if you look hard enough.

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One Comment

  1. Aaron says:

    When you run the numbers, depending on what part of town and what district you’re doing it in, 60% to 70% of the people listed as “D”
    in the database who have voted early in Harris County have only voted in one Democratic primary – 2008.

    And well over 50% of those have previous general election vote history this decade.

    When I lived in Austin, 46% of the people voted early in 2000. But by 2004, the number of Early Voters rose by 90,000 to over 220,000. But election day turnout DECLINED by 30,000 to just 38% of all votes cast.

    We simply pushed people to vote early who normally voted anyway on Election Day.

    Don’t be surprised if something similar happens in Houston this election cycle.