Early voting concluded Friday for runoff election. In the 15 counties with the most registered voters, 181K Democratic and 127K Republican votes were cast in person or by mail. Combined turnout in those counties was 3.1%, which was lower than during the first five days of early voting for the March primary (3.4%). It was also lower than during the early voting period for the 2014 runoff (3.6%) but a full percentage point ahead of the 2016 runoff (2.1%).
Mail-in ballots comprised 36% of all early ballots cast, a slight decrease from 2016 but still double the rate of 2012. As in 2016, ballot-by-mail voters will cast a disproportionately high percentage of all votes cast, likely skewing the electorate older.
Democratic turnout appears to be stronger than Republican turnout statewide, but this should be expected. Democratic voters are settling their gubernatorial nomination in a runoff for the first time since 1990, while many Republican voters around the state have no runoffs to decide. Just over 1.1M people voted in that 1990 Democratic runoff, marking the last time Democratic runoff turnout topped 1M people (It happened six times prior to 1990.). Turnout this year looks like it will finish short of 1M.
Republican turnout could top the 2016 (336K) and 2010 (376K) runoffs, despite the lack of a statewide race. Several competitive congressional, legislative and local runoffs might be enough to push Republican turnout to the third-highest ever behind 2014 (1.36M) and 2012 (1.11M).
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