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Primary Voters Set Records for Turnout, Not Turning Out

Texas saw record turnout for last night’s (Tuesday’s) gubernatorial election, and it also saw record levels of non-participation.

Some votes remain to be counted, but turnout numbers are expected to rise outside of rounding errors. Just shy of 3M Texans cast a ballot for a candidate for governor, the highest-ever combined number of votes cast for a gubernatorial primary election and the fourth-most for any primary election. Combined primary turnout statewide was 17.4% of registered voters, a whisker above 2018 (17.0%) and the highest combined turnout for a gubernatorial primary election since 1994 (17.6%).

Almost as many voters participated in this year’s Republican primary (1.94M) as in 2020 (2.00M), making it the third-highest vote total in state history for any Republican primary. Nearly 400K more votes were cast this year than in 2018 (1.55M), which was the previous record for a Republican gubernatorial primary election. It was the 8th straight Republican primary to eclipse 1M votes.

Republican turnout was 11.3% of registered voters, the fifth highest turnout percentage for a Republican primary in state history and the second highest percentage for a gubernatorial election, trailing only 2010 (11.4%). Republican turnout has exceeded 10% of registered voters in seven of the last eight primary elections.

In 207 counties, more people voted in the Republican primary this year than in 2018, and turnout more than doubled in 31 counties, mostly in South and West Texas.

One of the most dramatic increases occurred in Starr Co., where 15 people voted in the 2018 Republican primary. Nearly 1,800 people voted in this year’s primary, a boost coming in part from the party switch of Rep. Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City). The Democratic Party saw an even bigger drop there as turnout fell to around 3,400 voters from 6,500.

Statewide, the number of Democratic votes eclipsed 1M for the fourth straight primary election. The total of 1.06M voters just squeaked past the 2018 turnout of 1.04M voters. More people voted in the Democratic primary than in any gubernatorial primary election since 1990, but more people voted in each Democratic primary between 1946 and 1992 than this year.

Measured as the percentage of registered voters casting ballots for Democratic gubernatorial candidates, turnout was 6.15%, a bit behind 2018 (6.8%) but an improvement over 2006 (4.0%), 2010 (5.2%) and 2014 (4.0%).

The number of Democratic voters declined in exactly half of the state’s 254 counties from 2018. The biggest percentage drop was King Co., where both Democratic voters from 2018 did not return to the polls (as Democrats). The biggest drop in vote totals was in El Paso Co., where 10K fewer people voted this year as in 2018.

However, the number of Democratic voters increased in 250 counties spread out more randomly across the state than the more geographically concentrated Republican gains.

So far, we’ve talked about the Texans who turned out to vote and the records they set. The Texans who did not turn out to vote also set a record.

Nearly 14.2M registered voters did not participate in the primaries, breaking the previous high set in 2018 by nearly 1.5M. In nine of the last 11 primaries, the number of non-voting registered voters has exceeded 10M. For just the second time in state history, at least 10M more registered voters skipped the primary than voted in it.

Approximately 2M more Texans are eligible to vote but not registered. If included in the total, then the number of non-participating Texans exceeds 16M.

Historically, even more voters skip the runoffs. The last time more people voted in the runoff than in the primary was 1954. Combined runoff turnout has exceeded 1M voters just five times and only twice since 1994 (2012, 2020). Combined turnout has exceeded 10% of registered voters just once since 1994 (2012).

There are not always statewide runoffs, so the comparisons between years are not necessarily apples-to-apples, but the trends are clear: fewer voters, lower turnout.

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

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Van Taylor Announces Resignation and Other News for March 2

Note: this report has been updated since we issued our breaking news alert.

U.S. Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano) announced he is resigning following confirmation of an extra-marital affair, which became public over the weekend.

“About a year ago, I made a horrible mistake that has caused deep hurt and pain among those I love most in this world,” Taylor said in an email to supporters. “I had an affair, it was wrong, and it was the greatest failure of my life.”

Taylor was held below 50% by four challengers and forced into a runoff against former Collin County Judge Keith Self (R), who received 27% of the vote. Suzanne Harp, who finished third with 21%, will not advance to the runoff following Taylor’s withdrawal. Self will be the Republican nominee and presumptive new member of Congress serving CD3 (Likely R).

“Conservatives who believe family values are the backbone of our nation are held to a high standard,” Self said in a statement. “It is appropriate to respect his decision” to suspend his campaign.

Taylor has until March 16 to withdraw from the race formally so that he does not appear on the runoff ballot.

If Taylor serves the remainder of his term, then a special election would not be required.

HD9 (Safe R): Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), who was not seeking re-election, has resigned effective today (Wednesday). A special election will be required to fill his unexpired term. Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) faces Lufkin diesel technician Jason Rogers (D) in the general election.

HD142 (Safe D): With 6 voting centers left to be reported, Rep. Harold Dutton holds a 144-vote lead over challenger Candis Houston. Dutton received 56% of the early and absentee vote, giving him a 553-vote advantage headed into Election Day. Houston is leading among Election Day voters, 57%-43%.

Upcoming Deadlines: Results remain unofficial until canvassed, and absentee ballots can continue to be received and have their defects “corrected” through Saturday.
  • March 3 – deadline to receive “late domestic” mail ballots
  • March 7 – deadline for absentee voters to correct defects in carrier envleopes (which must be done in person), deadline to receive overseas mail ballots
  • March 10 – county canvass by county party chair
  • March 13 – deadline for state canvass for all races with potential runoffs by state party chair
  • March 16 – deadline for runoff candidate to withdraw and not be on the ballot
  • March 17 – state party certifies runoff candidates
  • March 23 – deadline for state canvass for races with no potential runoff by state party chair
Between the canvass and the certification, candidates may seek recounts for particularly close elections.

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

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Klick Falls into Runoff Territory and Other Quick Overnight Developments

Overnight developments:
  • Dallas and Harris Cos. are still not reporting full results, and Tarrant Co. may be reporting full resorts (Report says not all precinct results are posted, but it’s vote center status report says all are completely reported.). Dallas Co. may be much closer to a final report than it appears (24% vote centers reporting vs. all but three, depending on which report one uses).
  • Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) appears to have been forced into a runoff against David Lowe. Klick is currently at 48.96%. Lowe received 39% of the vote. She would become the fourth incumbent legislator to face a re-election runoff, joining Reps. Kyle Kacal (R-College Station), Glenn Rogers (R-Graford) and Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton).
  • Statewide, at least 1.9M Republicans and 1.0M Democrats have cast ballots. The Republican vote total is currently the 3rd highest all-time for a Republican primary and could move into 2nd depending on the Harris Co. results. Republican turnout – raw votes and percent of registered voters – exceeds 2018. Democratic turnout is still behind 2018 but could eclipse it once Harris Co. completes its count.
Other notable results we did not mention last night:
  • Former Corpus Christi Mayor Dan McQueen has finished first in the CD35 (Safe D) REP primary and will face Michael Rodriguez. The winner will face former Austin council member Greg Casar.
  • Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City) won his first-ever Republican primary with 59% of the vote.
  • Reggie Smith (R-Van Alstyne) defeated Shelley Luther, 59%-41%.
  • In Tarrant Co., Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) advanced to a runoff against Phil Sorrells for district attorney. Tim O’Hare won the REP primary for county judge outright with 57% of the vote. Former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price was second at 34%.
  • In Bexar Co., Rep. Ina Minjarez (D-San Antonio) advanced to a runoff for county judge against Peter Sakai, who finished first with 41% of the vote. Minjarez received 31% of the vote.
©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

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