Hypothetical turnout in Rep. Roland Gutierrez’s (D-San Antonio) current House district that would have sent him to a runoff against Republican Pete Flores instead of former Rep. and U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine).

Gallego received not quite 1,200 more votes than Gutierrez across all of SD19 to secure the second runoff spot. Gutierrez could have made up all of that difference had an additional 4,000 of his current constituents voted in the special election, assuming the candidates received the same proportion of the vote.

In the special election, 2,150 people – 4.6% of registered voters – in those precincts cast ballots. Gutierrez received 46% of their vote, finishing 643 votes ahead of Gallego, who received just 17%. Had 6,150 people voted in those precincts, lifting turnout to 13.3%, Gutierrez would have hypothetically received 1,840 more votes than Gallego, enough to offset Gallego’s advantage in the rest of the district by a couple of votes.

Special elections are often low-turnout affairs, and Bexar Co. voters have a recent history of not voting in special elections. Just 4.3% of Bexar Co. registered voters living within SD19 turned out for the special election, including 4.6% of registered voters who live in HD119 and also in SD19. Of the 17 counties in SD19, turnout was higher in all but Zavala Co.

When turnout is low, get-out-the-vote efforts do not necessarily have to reach very far to have far-reaching impacts. Just ask Flores, who surged into the lead because of a very strong Election Day performance.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC