Saturday, February 29, 2020

Strong Texas Primary Early Voting

With a voter registration increase of almost two million voters from 2016 to 2020, early voting turnout totals this year for the Democratic primary in Texas topped 2016 levels, but fell short of the Party’s record early turnout in 2008 in all but a few counties. Notably, turnout this year for the Democratic primaries in Collin and Denton counties topped the record levels of 2008.

The Texas Secretary of State recorded 2,024,861 in-person and mail ballots from February 18 to February 28 in the state’s 254 counties. A total of 1,000,231 Texans cast a ballot in the Democratic primary while 1,085,065 Texans voted in the Republican primary for a total of 2,085,296 ballots cast early.

In 2016, the last presidential primary, Texas had 4.3 million total voters in the election, with 1.8 million voting early in person or by mail. There were over 14 million registered voters in Texas in 2016. The most recent figures show there are now 16,211,198 registered voters in the Lone Star State.

Comparing Texas’ 14 counties with the highest population levels in 2008 with those same counties this year shows Democrats are generally as motivated this year as they were in their record turnout year of 2008. While Republicans are also more motivated this year than they were in 2008, their overall enthusiasm level this year has fallen off, compared to their record turnout year of 2016.
Notably, early turnout this year for the Democratic primaries in the North Texas DFW suburban Collin and Denton counties topped the record early levels of 2008. Including in-person ballots cast and mail ballots returned, 40,664 Collin County Democrats voted early this year compared with 36,052 in 2008, and 33,672 Denton County Democrats voted early compared with 28,267 in 2008. These North Texas counties are among those that managed top their record 2008 early turnout levels.
Republicans are running behind their 2016 record turnout levels in both county’s, with Collin County Republicans lagging by the widest margin of -18,339 behind their 2016 early ballot count.

Almost 72,000 Democratic ballots were cast in Collin County’s 2008 primary. Turnout in the County’s 2020 Democratic primary is on track to at least equal the Party’s record 2008 turnout, at least in the ballots cast numbers, if not as a percentage of registered voters. Republican turnout in Collin County is off the pace to match that Party’s record 2016 year turnout of 116,890 primary ballots cast.

In all, the early vote across Texas shows Democrats have gained enough momentum in the state for Democrats in places like Collin and Denton counties to join Democrats in historic blue strongholds like Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, all of which have also seen turnout surpass every post-2008 election cycle, in turning the state blue, perhaps even this year. For good reason the Democratic National Committee last week officially added Texas to its list of battleground states in which it intends to focus resources this fall.

The median age of all Collin county early voters, both in person and by mail, is 59 years, with Democrats  at 54 years and Republicans at 63 years. This means the older generation of  voters, both Democrats and Republicans, are dictating which candidates will become each party’s nominees for the general election.
Almost one-quarter (23.7%) of all primary voters in Collin County are voting in their first ever primary, with 15.1 percent (median age 43 yrs) of all primary voters selecting a Democratic ballot for their first time ever primary voting experience and 8.6 percent (median age 55 yrs) selecting a Republican ballot. This means that first primary voters who cast a Democratic ballot are younger than the general population of Democratic voters.
A NBC News Marist survey of 2,409 registered voters likely to vote in the primary, conducted Feb. 23 through Feb. 27 found Bernie Sanders holds a comfortable lead in Texas’ Democratic primary. Sanders has the support of 34% of likely Democratic primary voters while former Vice President Joe Biden, has the support of 19% of the respondents as their first choice. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., follow at 15% and 10%, respectively.

Sanders receives majority support (53%) from likely Democratic primary voters who are under the age of 45, including 57% of Millennials and Gen Z. Biden (10%) and Bloomberg (8%) trail far behind Sanders among likely Democratic primary voters under the age of 45.

Sanders (47%) is running up the score over his competitors, Biden (12%), Bloomberg (11%), and Buttigieg (11%) with independents likely to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary. Sanders (46%) also outdistances Biden (14%), Warren (13%), and Bloomberg (11%) among likely Democratic primary voters who identify as progressive. Among Latinos, Sanders (46%) also has a sizeable advantage over Bloomberg (14%) and Biden (13%). Among whites, Sanders (28%) has a healthy, yet smaller, lead over Biden (16%), Warren (15%), and Bloomberg (14%). Regardless of gender, Sanders is ahead. Although, compared to Biden, Sanders does better among men (+28 points) than women (+7 points).

Biden (27%) bests Bloomberg (21%) and Sanders (18%) among members of the likely Democratic primary electorate who are age 45 or older. Biden (30%) is also +6 points over Sanders (24%) among African Americans. Bloomberg receives 20% among this group. Among likely Democratic primary voters who identify as moderate, Biden (26%) is competitive with Sanders (22%).

M.J. Hegar, an Air Force veteran and former U.S. House candidate, leads the Democratic Senate primary race with 16% of support among likely Democratic primary voters. Labor organizer Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez trails at 9%, followed by state Sen. Royce West and nonprofit founder Annie Garcia at 8% and 7%, respectively. In a potential general election between Cornyn and Hegar, the Republican incumbent leads by a 49% to 41% margin among registered voters. In a potential general election between Cornyn and Hegar, the Republican incumbent leads by a 49% to 41% margin among registered voters. If no candidate gets a majority of votes, the top two head to a May runoff.
On the question of Republicans crossing over to vote in the Democratic Primary, the answer is, some, but not so much. Through the last day of early voting, of the 40,664 total primary voters, 3,026 people (3.7% of all voters) who have previously voted in only prior Republican primaries, have voted in the Democratic Primary.

Over the years, many Collin County Democrats have often voted in Republican primaries because, in most years, particularly midterm years, virtually no one filed to run for office in the Democratic primary — the person who won the Republican primary was literally the person elected to office. So far, 4,486 people (5.5% of all voters) who have switched back and forth from one party’s primary to the other over the years have cast their 2020 ballot in the Democratic primary. Over the years, there has been little reason for dedicated Republicans to switch over to vote very very short Democratic primary ballots.

Texas Democrats are eyeing 22 Texas House seats that they hope to flip. In the 2018 midterm election, Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic Party’s nominee for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s Senate seat, beat Cruz or lost by a slim single-digit margin in 22 Texas state house districts. Of the 22 Republican-held districts, nine are where both O’Rourke won and the incumbent Republican won by small single digits.

Two of those Texas state house districts - 66 and 67 - are wholly contained within Collin County. In 2018, Republican Matt Shaheen won HD66 by just 0.6% on a margin of just 391 votes over his returning 2020 Democratic opponent, and my good friend, Sharon Hirsch. In HD67 Republican Jeff Leach was re-elected by just over 2 points.
Democratic primary EV turnout has significantly outpaced turnout of the past two election cycles, and, for the first time this year, out paced Republican EV turnout in HD66 and HD67, which may be signs of trouble for the incumbent Republicans in November.

Additionally, early Democratic turnout for all the state house districts within Collin County is particularly strong this year.

Those who didn’t vote during early voting can still cast their ballot on Tuesday, March 3, Election Day, Super Tuesday. The question is: will another 40K - or more - people cast primary ballots in Collin on Election Day? The EV/ED vote has split about 50/50 over most recent presidential primary years, as shown in the primary turnout history table.


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