Tarrant Co., an epicenter of the Tea Party movement and a Republican stronghold for decades, narrowly preferred U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) over U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (D). O’Rourke became the first Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate to carry the county since 1988. In fact, he is the first Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate to receive at least 44% of the vote, measured head-to-head against the Republican, in the county in 30 years. He is only the second Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate to fare better in Tarrant Co. than statewide since at least 1978, the earliest year for which we have county-level returns.
Part of O’Rourke’s success is due to Tarrant Co. voters casting a record number of straight-party Democratic ballots, exceeding the previous high set in 2016. The number of straight-party Republican votes declined slightly from 2016.
Since 2004, the number of straight-party Democratic votes has increased by 45% while the number of straight-party Republican votes has been largely flat. Of course, both parties’ voters shattered records for a gubernatorial election year. Compared to 2014, the number of straight-party Democratic votes more than doubled, while straight-party Republican voting increased 56%.
Republicans still held the advantage countywide and in every Republican-held state House district, and every House Republican was re-elected.
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