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73%

Percent of 2016 general election voters who cast their votes early.

As Texans continue shattering early voting records for a gubernatorial election cycle, it may be worth remembering that early voters have been casting an ever greater share of votes since widespread adoption of early voting began.

The last time Election Day voters cast a majority of ballots was 2006, when two strong independent gubernatorial candidates ended up receiving more votes combined than the Democratic nominee. That came just two years after early voters represented a majority of votes cast for the first time.

Chart by Visualizer

The share of votes cast early has risen for every gubernatorial election since 1998 and for every presidential election save one since 1996.

Republican political consultant Derek Ryan has been analyzing past voting history of the voters who have already cast ballots this year. Much like 2016, the bulk of votes so far has come from primary voters.

In 2016, 57% of all early votes cast were voters with recent primary history – 34% Republican and 23% Democratic – and 29% were cast by voters with recent general election history but no primary history, Ryan found. The remaining 15% of voters had no recent voting history. That last group – “new” voters – tends to vote later in early voting than primary voters.

Through Day 3 in 2016, “new” early voters comprised 10% of total early votes, and general election-only voters represented 24%, Ryan found. Primary voters comprised 66% (35% Republicans, 28% Democrats and 3% with mixed history). Through Day 3 in 2018, “new” voters cast less than 8% of early votes, and general-election only voters cast 24%, just as they did in 2016. Primary voters represented the remaining 69% (35% Republicans, 31% Democrats and 3% mixed).

Certainly some of the record-breaking turnout this year is people who do not normally vote in gubernatorial elections, but most is due to consistent voters casting their ballots earlier.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC