We have been exploring shifts in straight-ticket voting in the state’s most populous counties, and in the state House districts therein, since the general election. For the most part, so far we have seen Democratic gains, particularly in districts won by Republican legislators and legislators-elect. Today we turn out attention to Montgomery Co., where more than seven out of every 10 voters cast a straight-ticket ballot.

All four parties set records for the number of straight-ticket votes cast in this fast-growing county, but Republicans posted the biggest increase over 2012, increasing their advantage to more than 87K votes countywide. Straight-ticket Republican votes represented 56% of all votes cast in the county, which is actually down 4% from 2012 but still enough to guarantee any Republican a win in a countywide race.

None of the three legislators representing the county – Reps. Cecil Bell Jr. (R-Magnolia), Mark Keough (R-The Woodlands) and Will Metcalf (R-Conroe) – were opposed by a Democratic candidate this year, and none would have faced a significant challenge if they had been. The districts won by Bell and Metcalf grew redder, but Keough’s district turned slightly less red.

An additional 5K straight-ticket Republican votes were cast in the Montgomery Co. portion of Bell’s district compared to less than 2K more straight-ticket Democratic votes, extending the Republican advantage there to more than 26K votes. President-elect Trump received 82% of the vote head-to-head against Hillary Clinton, which was slightly less than Mitt Romney’s share head-to-head against President Obama four years ago. In Waller Co., which comprises the rest of HD3, an additional 1K more straight-ticket Republican votes were cast while straight-ticket Democratic vote totals fell from four years ago. Across the district, Republicans had a nearly 30K-vote advantage in 2016, up from just under 25K in 2012.

In Metcalf’s district, there were four additional straight-ticket Republican voters for every new straight-ticket Democratic voter, and Trump received 81% of the vote head-to-head against Clinton. More than 40K residents cast a straight-ticket Republican vote this year, up more than 5.5K from 2012. Any Democrat challenging Metcalf in HD16 would have been on the wrong side of a 31.5K-vote straight-ticket margin.

Rep. Mark Keough

Rep. Mark

Democrats made some inroads into Keough’s district, but nowhere near enough to make it competitive. Compared to 2012, Republicans in HD15 had a 4K-vote smaller straight-ticket advantage. More than 42K people cast a straight-ticket Republican vote in the district, about the same number as in 2012. On the Democratic side, the number of straight-ticket votes increased 42% to nearly 14K. Clinton received 30% of the vote head-to-head against Trump, which outperformed Obama’s 22% four years ago. Nonetheless, the Republican advantage in straight-ticket voting in the district was still more than 29K, and Republican straight-ticket voters comprised a majority of all voters.

All statewide candidates received 75% or more of the vote, even when including votes cast for the minor-party candidates. At the county level, only one Democrat sought office, losing the race for Constable P1, 82%-18%.

We mentioned that the other two political parties set records for straight-ticket votes in the county. The number of straight-ticket Libertarian votes nearly doubled from 2012, and so did the number of straight-ticket Green votes. Despite these gains, the minor parties’ straight-ticket votes represented just 1% of all votes cast.

Republicans have increased their straight-ticket advantage in Montgomery Co. by about 26K votes since 2008. That’s about 8K votes fewer than the increase in the Democratic advantage in Travis Co. over the same period, even though Montgomery Co. has less than half the number of voters. One of the Republicans’ strengths statewide is running up large margins in suburban and exurban counties that can, sometimes single-handedly, cancel Democrats’ advantages in the large urban counties. Democrats made slight gains in a single House district in Montgomery Co., but at best they merely slowed Republicans’ adding to their huge advantage.