Early voting continues through Fri. for the November 8 general election.

Just south of 3M Texans have voted early in person (92%) or by mail (8%) statewide through yesterday (Sun.), the seventh day of the early voting period. Just over one out of every six registered voters (RVs) has already cast a ballot – down 11 percentage points from the same period two years ago.

Statewide, the number of voters through seven days is down 37% from 2020. We don’t typically like to compare mid-term election turnout to presidential election turnout, but 2020 is the only other year for which statewide daily data is available. What may be more interesting here is the percent decline in the number of voters from the prior election year is more in line with mid-term elections between 1998 and 2014 (36% average decline from preceding presidential election) than 2018 (7% decline).

Midterm Election Turnout Drop, 1988-2018

We previously estimated turnout between 9.5M and 10.25M, corresponding to a 9%-16% drop from 2020. At this point, we are revising our estimated turnout downward to 8.5M to 9.25M voters, which would represent a decrease of 18%-25% from 2020. Even at 8.5M, the number of voters casting ballots would set a mid-term record, eclipsing the 8.37M votes cast in 2018, but turnout as a percentage of RVs would be lower. If 8.5M votes were cast, turnout would be 48% of RVs, down from 53% in 2018.

Looking at the 30 counties with the most RVs, the number of votes cast so far this year (2.36M) is 21% lower than through the first seven days of early voting in 2018 and 38% lower than in 2020. In the five counties with the most RVs – Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis – the number of voters so far is 23% below 2018 and 40% below 2020.

Looking at the remaining 224 counties, the number of votes cast is down 33% from 2020 – a smaller percentage decrease than the Top 5 (40%) and the next 25 (36%).

More than three quarters of all early voters to date have cast ballots in at least one of the last four primary elections, according to the latest analysis by Republican strategist and data nerd Derek Ryan. Around 385K more Republican primary voters have already cast ballots than Democratic primary voters. There remain around 460K more Republican primary voters than Democratic primary voters who have not yet voted.

So far, more than 70% of early voters have been aged 50 years or older. More than a third of voters over 70 have already voted, as have roughly a quarter of voters aged 50-69. Voters under 30 have cast 7% of early votes so far, and just 6% of them have already voted.

None of the preceding turnout data should be viewed as favorable for the Democratic slate’s chances statewide.

GOV (Likely R): Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leads Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke (D), 50%-44%, among likely voters, according to a new Univ. of Texas at Tyler poll.

More than three quarters of likely voters participated in the Republican (42%) or Democratic (35%) primary election this year, and voting blocs that tend to support Abbott more than O’Rourke expressed higher certainty of voting:

  • 79% of Republicans said they were “certain” to vote or have already voted compared to 73% of Democrats and 65% of independents
  • 83% of respondents over age 45 said they were certain to vote or have already voted compared to 59% of respondents under 45
  • 79% of White respondents said they were “certain” to vote or have already voted compared to 69% of Black respondents and 67% of Hispanic/Latino respondents.

Under 10% of voters said they were “not sure” if they would vote (4%), probably would not vote (3%) or definitely would not vote (2%). Early voting numbers to date suggest a much higher percentage will not vote.

The poll of 1,330 registered voters (RVs) – 973 “certain to vote” voters – was conducted by phone and online and was in the field Oct. 17-24. It has a ±3.4% margin of error for the “certain to vote” sample.

LTGOV (Lean R): That UT-Tyler poll finds Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) leading Mike Collier (D), 44%-35%, among likely voters.

AG (Lean R): Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R) leads Rochelle Garza (D), 42%-38%, according to the new UT-Tyler poll. Independents broke for Garza, 47%-33%, but are less likely to vote than Republicans (77%-6% for Paxton) or Democrats (78%-6% for Garza).

Libertarian nominee Mark Ash has retracted his op-ed in which he unequivocally endorsed Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza. “Not voting or voting for me may not be enough” to defeat Paxton, he wrote in the now retracted op-ed in the Amarillo Pioneer. “I am recommending Rochelle Garza for Attorney General as the better candidate in this race.” An archived web page of this op-ed remains online.

Campaign Finance: Statewide and legislative candidates facing general election opposition are required to file 8-day-out campaign finance reports today (Mon.). These reports will disclose contributions received and expenditures made between Sept. 30 and Oct. 29. These reports are expected to become available online tomorrow (Tues.), and we will update our Crib Sheets throughout the day.

As of yesterday (Sun.), those candidates must report contributions over and above $1,890 received from a single source through Nov. 7 via daily pre-election reports. Congressional candidates are already within their 24-hour reporting period.

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