When Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton), author of the bill that ends single-punch, straight-party voting in 2020, narrowly lost to Democratic challenger Michelle Beckley, we assumed straight-party voting was the reason. After all, in the largest counties, several Republican legislative incumbents were swamped by a rising tide of straight-party Democratic voters, so it made sense that this Denton Co. Republican met the same fate.

He didn’t. Straight-party voting factored into Simmons’s defeat, but it wasn’t the Democrats.

Rep.-elect Michelle Beckley

Rep. Ron Simmons

Rep. Ron
Simmons

Compared to 2016, just 101 more straight-party Democratic votes were cast in HD65. The seat fell into range of flipping because 1,451 fewer voters cast straight-party Republican ballots than in 2016. Despite that decline, Simmons still held an advantage in straight-party voting. Rep.-elect Beckley (D-Carrollton) made up that 1,569-vote gap by taking 58% of the full-ballot vote.

The other three Denton Co. House districts experienced level straight-party Republican voting compared to 2016 and increased straight-party Democratic voting, but not enough to flip them. The closest was HD64, from which Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger) was re-elected by more than 5K votes. In HD63, held by Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), and HD106, won by Rep.-elect Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), the Republicans’ advantages in straight-party voting were 24K and 15K, respectively.

HD65 did experience a significant shift towards the Democrats relative to 2014. In fact, nearly three times as many straight-party Democratic votes were cast this year than four years ago. Even that was not enough to offset completely an 8K-vote increase in straight-party Republican voting, and Beckley needed full-ballot voters to make up that difference.

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©2018 Texas Election Source LLC