Thursday was the fourth straight day in Harris County that the number of people voting early exceeded the day before. Over 54,000 ballots were cast here on the penultimate day, bringing turnout to nearly 19%. We’re still pikers compared to Travis County, though. According to Karl-T, who has final totals, Travis County saw over 217,000 votes cast in the twelve-day period, which represents 37% turnout, all before Election Day itself. To put that into some perspective, total turnout in Travis County for the 2002 elections, which included the Governor’s race and a hotly contested Senate race, was just under 40%. Karl-T thinks that in the end, over 70% of registered voters will turn out there. Given the generally Democratic tilt of the capital county (Ron Kirk had 55% in 2002, John Sharr and Kirk Watson over 58% each; even Tony Sanchez carried Travis, if only by 200 votes), that’s got to be good news for Patrick Rose, Kelly White, and Mark Strama.
UPDATE: Final totals are in. An amazing 67,000 people voted in Harris County yesterday, bringing the total vote to over 436,000 and turnout to over 22%. Even more amazingly, that 22% represented the low water mark for the Top 15 counties, where the overall turnout was 29.66%. Sixty percent turnout now would not surprise me.
Before anyone gets too giddy about that, note what Greg says.
CW is that higher turnout helps Dems. I’ll buy that … but only up to a point, and an unknown point at that. Just a formative bit of speculation here, but I think that once you see one side driven to get out to the polls, that starts to seep over to the other side. Higher turnout may help Dems given the current calculus. But hyper-higher turnout, I argue, tends to make the new voters look more and more like everyone else. We shall see soon enough, I suppose.
Consider the top five of the Big 15:
County Reg Voters Voters Percent =================================================== Collin 369,412 153,566 41.57% Williamson 200,344 77,142 38.50% Travis 584,949 217,428 37.17% Denton 321,700 116,632 36.25% Galveston 185,911 64,714 34.81%
Collin, Williamson, and Denton are three of the most Republican counties in Texas (Bush 2000 numbers: Collin 73.06%, Williamson 67.79%, Denton 69.60%). Galveston is more of a swing county (Bush 2000: 54.20%), though it still leans Republican (top Dem showing in 2002: John Sharp with 48.32%; Nick Lampson carried it with 54.21%, which may bode well for Richard Morrison). My point is, Democrats are not the only ones getting out the vote.