Number of counties, out of 254, in which only one party fielded candidates for every county-level office up for election in 2018
While droves of candidates running for state and federal office has led to the highest percentage of contested seats in decades, the level of partisan competition at the county level remains low. Of the 2,613 county offices on the ballot in 2018, a Democrat and a Republican will face off for just 364 (14%) of them, a slight increase from 11% in 2016.
The most competitive, at least in terms of the parties running against each other, counties are Harris (80%), Caldwell (77%), Bexar (74%) and Williamson (71%). At least half of the county offices on the ballot are being contested by both parties in just 12 counties. There are no Democrats running for county office in 105 counties, and no Republicans are running in 14 counties. In 12 counties, candidates from both parties are running, but not against each other. In another 43 counties, just one Democrat is seeking county-office, and a lone Republican is running in six counties.
In 188 counties (74%), no countywide office on the general election ballot will be contested by both a Democrat and a Republican. Offices up this year include county judge, county clerk, district clerk and county treasurer. The county judge race is contested by both parties in just 47 counties (19%).
Overall, at least one Republican is running for 82% of county offices on the 2018 ballot, while at least one Democrat is running for only 32%. Nearly 2K more Republicans are running for county offices than Democrats.
The low level of partisan competition down the ballot is partially attributable to high levels of straight-party voting, which has also been responsible for alternating partisan sweeps of countywide judicial offices in Harris Co. and elsewhere. A new law ends the single-punch, straight-party voting option, but it does not take effect until 2020.