I think we can say that people noticed the Day One early voting numbers.
Democrats have more than doubled their early voting in the state’s biggest counties compared to four years ago, leading some party leaders to point again to a growing wave election they think will send a dramatic message to Republicans.
But while Democrats are voting better than they did four years ago, Republicans still are near where they were four years ago, even though the lack the same star power in the primary that they had four years ago at the top of the ballot.
In the state’s largest 15 counties, nearly 50,000 people voted in the Democratic primary elections on the first day of early voting.
In 2014 — the last mid-term election cycle — only about 25,000 Democrats voted in the primary. Never have the Democrats had so many early voters in a primary in a gubernatorial election cycle going back to the mid-1990s when early voting started.
Meanwhile, Republican numbers in Texas early voting are essentially flat, with 47,000 Republicans voting on the first day of early voting — slightly lower than the 49,000 that voted four years ago.
But Republicans say those numbers don’t mean Democrats are suddenly about to overtake Republicans in both energy and at the ballot box.
We’ll talk about the rest of the state in a minute. For now, let’s update the Harris County numbers.
Year Party Mail In Person Total ======================================= 2010 Dem 3,466 4,210 7,676 2010 Rep 7,264 5,780 13,044 2014 Dem 2,484 2,832 5,316 2014 Rep 10,514 6,119 16,633 2018 Dem 6,976 5,651 12,627 2018 Rep 6,676 7,817 14,493
Republicans had slightly more Day 2 in person voters, and more mail ballots returned, but Dems still lead in the in-person total. Of interest also is that another 2,239 mail ballots were sent to Dem voters, for 32,311 total mail ballots, while Republicans received only another 349, for 29,935 total.
Now, as Campos says, it’s one thing to request a mail ballot and another thing to return it. So let’s look at some past history of mail ballots in primaries:
Year Party Request Return Return% ====================================== 2008 Dem 11,989 7,056 58.9% 2008 Rep 18,415 13,432 72.9% 2010 Dem 11,847 6,250 52.8% 2010 Rep 17,629 12,399 70.3% 2012 Dem 13,087 7,735 59.1% 2012 Rep 23,584 17,734 75.2% 2014 Dem 12,722 7,359 57.8% 2014 Rep 24,548 17,628 71.8% 2016 Dem 19,026 13,034 68.5% 2016 Rep 29,769 20,780 69.8%
One of these years is not like the others. Dems have emphasized mail ballots in the past couple of cycles, and you can see the difference in 2016. If that behavior repeats this year, Dems will reap the benefit of their larger pool of voters with mail ballots. We’ll keep an eye on that.
Finally, the DMN has a good look at voting around the state on Day One.
Of the 51,249 Texans who cast ballots Tuesday on the first day of early voting, more than half voted in the Democratic primary.
The total number of voters from 15 of the state’s largest counties is high for a midterm year. In 2016, a presidential election year, 55,931 Texans voted on the first day of early voting for the primary. But in the last midterm election in 2014, only 38,441 Texans voted on the first day.
Even more surprising is the turnout among Democrats. Since the last midterm election, the party saw a 51 percent increase in first-day early voting turnout, while Republicans saw a 16 percent increase.