Early runoff turnout higher than expected

Not high, you understand, but higher than expected.


More than 73,000 Harris County residents cast ballots in person or by mail in the five days of early voting before next week’s primary runoffs.

While the total of 73,259 was low compared with the number of eligible voters, political experts said the actual tally of ballots cast was higher than expected.

“I was quite surprised to see how high it was,” said University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus. “I think it just references the fact that there are several competitive Republican races.”

Residents voting in the Republican runoff cast 59,122 ballots. Democrats accounted for one-quarter of the ballots at 14,137.

The totals fell short of the July 2012 runoff pitting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst against now-U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in a heated campaign for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. About 89,500 voters, including 72,300 Republicans, cast ballots in that runoff.


While early voting numbers are comparable to the 2012 runoff, University of St. Thomas political scientist Jon Taylor asserted that they are “just as crappy,” when looking at the larger picture, blaming it, in part, on “Texas’ traditional voter apathy that goes back decades.”

Harris County has 2 million registered voters.

In addition to the lieutenant governor’s race, the GOP ticket in Harris County includes runoffs for the nominations for attorney general, agriculture commissioner, railroad commissioner, and four local judicial races. There are only two races on the Democratic ballot: One for U.S. Senate, another for state agriculture commissioner.

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones estimated the total statewide turnout for the runoff will be between 130,000 and 160,000 for both parties.

I’ve got the daily EV totals here. The prediction made by County Clerk Stan Stanart was for 75,000 Republicans and 20,000 Democrats. While I thought his Democratic prediction was too optimistic, I’d say now that both guesses are a bit low, even if you assume that two thirds of the total vote has already been cast. I have no idea about statewide turnout other than to say I expect Republican totals to be higher. If you’re waiting till Tuesday to vote, be aware that you almost certainly won’t be able to go to your usual precinct location. I’ll have info about that Tuesday morning. In the meantime, who did vote and who is planning to vote on the 27th? Leave a comment and let us know.

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2 Responses to Early runoff turnout higher than expected

  1. Andrea says:

    I voted early, and there were several others at the polling site on West Gray while I was there. The judge assured me they’d filled more than one page of D voters. The one poll worker in the parking lot charged up to my car to announce, as I got out, that he and I were on different sides of things (he’d seen my Wendy Davis bumper sticker). I told him so sad, too bad, and kept walking, but wanted to come at him the way he’d come at me to suggest that perhaps, if his goal was winning votes, charging up to people and telling them they were wrong was not the best way to close the sale. Bless his bunched up little heart, though, because he was out participating in democracy, which is more than most can be bothered to do.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    I’ll just report anecdotally, that things weren’t too much different in Brazoria County. I early voted, no line, I was the only one there at the time, besides the poll workers. Lack. Of. Voters. It’s really sad, especially considering the fact that tomorrow we are honoring folks who died in part, to allow us to keep the right to vote.

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