Friday, October 26, 2018

Texas Early Turnout Day 4 - Blue Wave Yet?

Early voting in 2018 midterm general election turnout and enthusiasm are unusually strong among both Republicans and Democrats across the U.S., including Texas.

As of day three of early voting, 1,344,741 Texans have cast in-person ballots and 240,601 cast mail-in ballots in the 30 counties where most registered voters in the state — 78 percent — live. That turnout equals 79 percent of the total votes cast in those counties during the entire two-week early voting period in the last midterm election in 2014.

So far this year, 12.9 percent of the 12.3 million registered voters in those 30 counties have voted. If turnout rates remain at these levels, we could see presidential election year turnout levels across Texas and the U.S., which would be virtually unprecedented.

With midterm enthusiasm unusually strong among both Republicans and Democrats across the country, Republican early voters may have outnumbered Democrats in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas. Turnout so far is skewing right, in part, because older voters - who skew conservative - typically out number younger voters - who skew progressive - during the earliest days of early voting.

While the early votes cast so far clearly signal elevated turnout and energy, the numbers don't necessarily reflect the final outcome of any election. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that enthusiasm among both GOP and Democratic voters has surged recently. The survey found that 68% of Republican voters and 72% of Democrats are very interested in the election, which are the highest recorded rates for both parties in a midterm election. Polls conducted through 2018 universally found an increasing margin of Republican woman indicating they will not be voting Republican this year.

At least six Texas congressional seats and as many as a dozen state House seats presently held by Republicans are considered competitive for Democrats this cycle. In Texas, as elsewhere, the result of the 2018 mid-term election – and particularly whether Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, will oust nasty right-wing GOP Sen. Ted Cruz — depends on which side motivates and turns out more of its voters.

Comparing the first three days of early voting across the top 15 Texas counties for 2018 with 2016 and 2018 turnout numbers, voter turnout is almost at presidential election levels this year by both the percentage of registered voters and raw turnout counts. Keep in mind people have been moving Texas, increasing the state's population and voter registration counts, so raw voter turnout counts are expected to be higher, just from the population increase. Comparing turnout across the years as a percentage of voters registered in each election yields a better relative turnout comparison across the years. Already, it is clear overall 2018 turnout will blow the 2014 midterm election out of the water.

15 Largest Counties Cumulative Mail & In Person % Voted 2014 Mail & In Person % Voted In 2016 Mail & In Person % Voted In 2018
Mail & In Person # Voted In 2014 Mail & In Person # Voted In 2016 Mail & In Person # Voted In 2018
Mail # Voted In 2014 Mail # Voted In 2016 Mail # Voted In 2018
Mon 2.68% 5.91% 5.53%
240,653 576,416 568,926
127,031 182,136 173,527
Tue 4.07% 10.12% 9.39%
365,315 987,642 965,592
137,398 191,903 185,573
Wed 5.41% 14.31% 12.73%
485,754 1,396,446 1,309,175
149,224 212,681 197,799
Thu 6.69% 18.27% 16.09%
600,824 1,783,048 1,654,950
161,637 227,184 218,303
Fri 8.09% 22.34% 0.00%
726,017 2,180,292 0
169,114 240,787 0
Sat 9.32% 25.73% 0.00%
837,149 2,511,681 0
176,545 250,876 0
Sun 9.78% 27.25% 0.00%
878,364 2,659,865 0
176,694 255,906 0
Mon 11.17% 30.58% 0.00%
1,003,027 2,985,017 0
181,017 273,522 0
Tue 12.71% 33.95% 0.00%
1,141,565 3,313,842 0
190,122 280,122 0
Wed 14.38% 37.41% 0.00%
1,291,393 3,651,023 0
198,586 290,789 0
Thu 16.31% 41.01% 0.00%
1,464,061 4,002,626 0
204,013 301,135 0
Fri 19.11% 46.08% 0.00%
1,715,731 4,497,431 0
211,655 311,324 0
Election Day 33.56% 60.87% 0.00%
3,013,361 5,940,406 0
Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, Collin, Denton, El Paso, Fort Bend, Hidalgo, Montgomery,
Williamson, Galveston, Nueces, and Cameron Counties

As usual, the most partisan Texans — those with a history of voting in either the Republican or Democratic primary — cast the most votes on the first day. Texans with a party primary voting history cast 69.9 percent of the votes on Monday. Past Republican primary voters held a slight edge over the Democrats, casting 36.1 percent of the votes in major urban counties to 33.8 percent for Democrats. The Republican turnout across Texas was up four percent over the first day of the 2014 midterm election, while Democratic turnout nudged up less than half a percentage point. By-Mail absentee voting is particularly popular this year among older more right-leaning Texans who have been mailing in their ballots over the past few weeks. Absentee ballots received at county election offices in the weeks prior to the start of early voting are included in first day turnout statistics.

The Target Early website's modeled Texas turnout through the first four days of early voting (graphic right) estimates 689,385 (38.3%) Democrats have voted, 991,111 (55%) Republicans have voted and 119,225 (6.6%) people of unclear partisan leaning have voted, with a total tally of 1,799,721 ballots cast.

Almost one out of every five voters during the first days of early voting were people who have voted in past federal elections, but who have no party primary voting history, while between five and nine percent of the earliest early voters — depending on the county — have no history of voting in any primary or federal election.

Because Texas does not record party registration -- only party affiliation by voting in either party's primary elections -- there is no across the board way to know whether these voters are leaning toward Republicans or Democrats.

Several more days of early voting will pass before a clear picture starts to emerge, but it is worth noting that during the 2016 presidential contest, 73 percent of all the Texas votes were cast during the early voting period. In the 2014 governor’s race, early ballots were 54 percent of the total. One unanswerable question at this point is will the early verses election day turnout split look more like 2014 or 2016? My guess is the turnout split will look more like 2016.

Another unanswerable question, at this point, is whether Texas voters are validating President Trump by re-electing Cruz? Or is this a blue wave upset in the making with Beto O’Rourke running for the U.S. Senate, and other Democrats on every voter's ballot across the state statewide offices, possibly breaking an unending cycle of Democratic losses in statewide elections that date back to 1994? For statewide Democratic candidates to win election, they must make gains in traditionally red suburban counties like Collin County.

As of the first day of early voting, 581,386 voters were registered in Collin County, up from 540,041 registered voters at the start of early voting in October 2016. Since the registration cutoff date for the 2016 general election 101,541 people with a median age of 35 years have newly registered in the county. Why has the registration count increased by only 41,345, when 101,541 people newly registered? Because registrations for those who have died, moved, have not voted in the last three federal elections, haven't responded to official mail from the county election office, and a few other reasons have been cancelled. Doing the math, it turns out 60,196 old registration records have been cancelled since the 2016 general election. Registered voters for the 2018 general election have ab average age of 47 years -- an important number to keep in mind.

Of the 581,386 total registered voters, 130,017 with an average age of 56 years have voted in one or more Republican Party primaries, 66,664 with an average age of 51.4 years have voted in one or more Democratic Party primaries, and 20,444 with an average age of 60 years have switched between voting in primaries of each party from primary year to primary year.

Through the first four days of early voting in Collin County, 118,913 in-person and by-mail ballots have been cast - 48,072 by Republican Party affiliates (average age 61) and 24,136 by Democratic Party affiliates (average age 55) - as determined by party primary voting history. Just under one-third of early voters so far (37,244, with an average age of 48 years) have not voted in either party's primary, and the remainder (9,461) have a history of switching party primaries over the years.

As of the first day of early voting, 14,623 by-mail ballot applications had been received at the election office. More Republicans than Democrats - determined by party primary voting history - requested mail ballots with 6,559 Republicans and 3,672 Democrats (10,231 total) requesting ballots by mail. The other 4,392 people who requested mail ballots have not voted in any party's primary, or they have voted in both party's primaries over the years.

Through day four of early voting, 10,500 (72.8%) of the 14,623 by-mail ballots requested for this election had been returned to the election office, largely by senior voters. Few mail ballots sent to voters under age 65 had been returned through day four. Of the mail ballots returned, 4,701 are from Republican Party affiliates and 2,720 are from Democratic Party affiliates.

The rate of turnout in Collin County has been running ahead of most other Texas counties. Turnout this year started hotter than in the last presidential year, 2016 for the first two days of early voting, but the turnout has cooled slightly over the third and fourth days of early voting.

Collin County Cumulative Mail & In Person % Voted In Collin Co. 2014 Mail & In Person % Voted In Collin Co. 2016 Mail & In Person % Voted In Collin Co. 2018
Mail & In Person # Voted In Collin Co. 2014 Mail & In Person # Voted In Collin Co. 2016 Mail & In Person # Voted In Collin Co. 2018
Mail # Voted In Collin Co. 2014 Mail # Voted In Collin Co. 2016 Mail # Voted In Collin Co. 2018
Mon 2.1% 6.8% 7.3%
10,312 36,719 42,511
3,676 5,436 9,161
Tue 3.8% 12.7% 12.8%
18,336 68,241 74,273
4,400 6,314 9,614
Wed 5.3% 18.1% 16.8%
25,588 96,899 97,324
4,927 7,044 10,276
Thu 6.6% 22.8% 20.6%
32,076 122,582 119,338
5,335 7,887 10,500
Fri 8.2% 28.2% 0.0%
39,763 151,560 0
5,672 8,849 0
Sat 9.8% 33.3% 0.0%
47,584 178,634 0
6,026 9,041 0
Sun 10.3% 35.2% 0.0%
50,040 188,861 0
6,026 9,367 0
Mon 12.0% 39.0% 0.0%
58,381 209,114 0
6,230 9,896 0
Tue 13.9% 42.7% 0.0%
67,533 229,487 0
6,656 10,427 0
Wed 16.0% 46.5% 0.0%
77,416 249,793 0
6,968 11,065 0
Thu 18.2% 50.5% 0.0%
88,495 270,853 0
7,268 11,701 0
Fri 21.7% 56.2% 0.0%
105,296 301,939 0
7,494 12,378 0
Election Day 36.5% 68.3% 0.0%
177,131 366,483 0

The average age of all voters who have cast their ballot so far is 56.5 years. Only 13,717 older voters (average age 45.5 years) of the 101,541 people (median age of 35 years) who registered after the 2016 election have voted through day four of EV. More than one-third (48,352, average age 48) of early voters so far are voting in a midterm election for the first time, and one in eight early voters (15,973, average age 44) are voting for the first time in a federal election in Collin County.

In summary, Collin County turnout through day four looks more like a 2016 election re-do when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump 140,624 votes to 201,014 votes, than a blue wave. That said, Hillary's performance in Collin County was an improvement over past Democratic performance, so it looks like Democrats are at least holding in the county.

To see where Texas voters are most eager to cast their ballot, we examined counties with the highest rate of voter turnout in the state's ongoing early voting period using data by Texas Tribune.

Collin County Voting Center Early Turnout Through Day Four

Collin County Voting Center Voter Count
Allen ISD Service Center EV026 3,438
Allen Municipal Complex EV501 8,222
Carpenter Park Recreation Ctr EV601 5,487
CC Higher Education EV202 1,854
CC McKinney Campus EV043 2,876
CC Preston Ridge Campus EV117 5,121
CC Spring Creek Campus EV050 3,319
Celina ISD Admin Building EV721 1,403
Christ UMC EV211 4,470
Collin County Elections EV504 4,003
Davis Library EV200 5,022
Farmersville City Hall EV011 1,042
Frisco Fire Station #5 EV219 2,356
Frisco Senior Center EV194 2,029
Gay Library EV212 8,418
Haggard Library EV164 4,076
Harrington Library EV602 3,842
Lavon City Hall EV213 1,280
Lovejoy ISD Admin Bldg. EV174 2,621
McKinney Fire Station #7 EV172 2,929
Melissa City Hall EV195 1,125
Methodist Richardson Med. EV251 2,158
Murphy Community Ctr. EV252 3,908
Old Settlers Rec. Center EV516 719
Parker City Hall EV176 1,129
Parr Library EV109 4,681
Plano ISD Admin Center EV603 4,748
Princeton City Hall EV214 1,441
Prosper Town Hall EV257 2,889
Renner-Frankford Library EV074 5,252
Smith Library EV222 5,417
Texas Star Bank EV165 1,563
Total 108,838

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