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Recently Posted News & Analysis

2022 Results Become Official After Abbott’s Canvass

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) canvassed the statewide results of the 2022 general election yesterday (Mon.). As far as we can tell, no state races flipped from the unofficial election results.

Just over 8.1M Texans cast a vote for a certified gubernatorial candidate, representing 45.9% of registered voters and 42.5% of the estimated voting-eligible population. All three representations of turnout fell short of their comparable 2018 figures (8.4M votes cast, 53.0% of RVs, 46.3% of VEP), but represent the second highest such figures for a midterm election since at least 1982, which is the earliest mid-term for which we have a reliable VEP estimate.

Nearly 11M Texans – including a record 9.6M RVs – who could have voted in this election did not do so. Nearly 4M fewer RVs cast ballots in this election than in the 2020 general election, the largest drop-off in state history (The figure equals a decrease in the number of votes cast and an increase in the number of RVs.).

Final statewide results:

  • Abbott (R) defeated Beto O’Rourke (D), 54.8%-43.9%
  • Gov. Dan Patrick (R) defeated Mike Collier (D), 53.8%-43.5%
  • Gen. Ken Paxton (R) defeated Rochelle Garza (D), 53.4%-43.7%
  • Glenn Hegar (R) defeated Janet Dudding (D), 56.4%-40.9%
  • Dawn Buckingham (R) won he LAND open race over Jay Kleberg (D), 56.2%-42.2%
  • Agriculture Comm. Sid Miller (R) defeated Susan Hays (D), 56.3%-43.7%
  • Railroad Comm. Wayne Christian (R) defeated Luke Warford (D), 55.4%-40.5%
  • Supreme Court Justices Rebeca Huddle (R), Scott Walker (R) and Evan Young (R) won with 57.1%, 56.9% and 56.4% of the vote, respectively.
  • Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Jesse McClure (R) and Scott Walker (R) won with 57.2% and 56.9% of the vote, respectively.

Measured head-to-head, the average statewide Republican candidate received 56.66% of the vote to the average statewide Democrat’s 43.34%. The five judicial races were tightly clustered around their average 57.00% for the Republican and 43.00% for the Democrat. The median statewide races were SC5 (57.1%-42.9%) and CCA5 (56.9%-43.1%) – averaging those yields 57.0% to 43.0%.

Our final projection of the head-to-head average statewide race was 55.87%-44.13%, approximately 0.8 percentage points from the actual result.

In terms of the number of votes received, the top vote-getter was Huddle with 4.53M. Paxton’s 4.28M was the lowest among the 12 contested statewide candidates. The spread between them was 252K votes – 3.1% of all votes cast. The Democratic spread between O’Rourke (3.55M votes) and Warford (3.22M votes) was 331K votes, which is 4.09% of all votes cast. This implies upwards of 95% of voters effectively cast a straight ticket, at least at the statewide level.

El Paso County: 34th Judicial Dist. Atty. Yvonne Rosales (D) has resigned, ending a lengthy legal effort to have her removed from office. Her resignation is effective Dec. 14, the day before a hearing that could have resulted in her temporary suspension pending a jury trial. Rosales’s resignation letter was given to District Judge Tryon Lewis (R) during a status hearing on the case. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will appoint a successor to serve out the two-plus remaining years of Rosales’s unexpired term. The position also serves as the district attorney for Culberson and Hudspeth Cos.

Houston: Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) will “kickstart” his mayoral campaign tomorrow (Wed.) at a fundraiser hosted by Tilman Fertitta. Mayor Sylvester Turner is term-limited.

Texas Supreme Court Order Harris County to Keep Separate Counts

The Texas Supreme Court granted the state’s motion for temporary relief to require Harris Co. to account around 2K late-cast provisional ballots separately as part of the county’s canvass of the official election results. However, it did not go so far as to reject the ballots and instead provided an avenue for further litigation.

Polls in Harris Co. were opened an additional hour by court order, but the state Supreme Court ordered those ballots to be segregated. They were counted, and the county contends they were legally cast and should be included in the official totals.

The Office of Attorney General sought to have those ballots thrown out, arguing the lower court erred in extending the poll closing time by one hour. A similar court order kept polls open in Bell Co. for an additional hour, but the OAG has not challenged those ballots as far as we can tell.

In its order, the high court required Harris Co. to “conduct the canvass … as required by the Election Code” and to “separately identify in the vote tabulations the number of ‘later cast votes’ for each candidate in each race.” Once that is done, “candidates, the parties and this Court may ascertain whether the ‘later cast votes’ would be outcome-determinative and so that the parties can assess the extent to which further litigation is warranted.”

The outcome of at least one judicial race could be affected by the ruling: the 180th District Court. On Election Day, challenger Tami Pierce (R) led Judge DaSean Jones (D) by 165 votes. When all provisional ballots – including those cast before 7 p.m. – and legally late-arriving absentee ballots were counted, Jones had a 449-vote lead. It is unclear at this point whether the rejection of 2K late-cast provisional ballots would swing the race back to Pierce.

Once the votes are canvassed, candidates can formally request a recount or proceed to an election contest.

LaMantia, Plesa Increase Leads as Votes Are Canvassed

SD27 open: Democrat Morgan LaMantia’s lead over Adam Hinojosa (R) has increased to 655 votes following the canvasses of Bee, Cameron, Hidalgo and Nueces Cos. The county-by-county breakdown is as follows:

  • Cameron: LaMantia 41,643 (+63), Hinojosa 33,822 (+22) – canvassed
  • Hidalgo: LaMantia 26,465 (+44), Hinojosa 16,078 (+18) – canvassed
  • Nueces: Hinojosa 15,034 (+15), LaMantia 7,132 (+36) – canvassed
  • San Patricio: Hinojosa 12,226, LaMantia 5,378
  • Kleberg: Hinojosa 4,163, LaMantia 3,281
  • Willacy: LaMantia 2,174, Hinojosa 1,551
  • Bee: Hinojosa 4,384 (+8), LaMantia 1,900 (+6) – canvassed
  • Kenedy: Hinojosa 96, LaMantia 36

LaMantia had a 569-vote lead on election night.

HD70 open: Democrat Mihaela Plesa’s lead over Jamee Jolly (R) has increased to 859 votes following the county’s canvass. Plesa led by 821 votes on election night.

House Speaker: Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) filed for another term as the House’s leader. Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) previously filed for the post.

SEN/PRES: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) confirmed he would seek re-election to a third term in 2024 following a speech at a Republican Jewish Coalition event. Cruz was asked if his re-election bid would make him no longer a presidential candidate, to which he reportedly said there would be “plenty of time” to discuss that race.

Under current state law, Cruz could seek both. Sec. 141.033 prohibits candidates from filing for more than one office on the same ballot, which in this case would be the Republican primary ballot. However, Sec. 141.033(c) provides that the prohibition does not apply to a candidacy for president or vice president when paired with candidacy for another office.

Harris County: The Office of Attorney General filed a petition today (Mon.) with the Texas Supreme Court to toss 2K provisional ballots cast by voters who arrived at the polls between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day. Polls were open that additional hour by court order. Those ballots were counted but held separately as required by a stay issued by the Texas Supreme Court on Election Day. The county intends to include them in the official results, which will be canvassed by the Commissioners Court tomorrow (Tues.).

At least one race – 180th District Court – would have a different outcome if the provisional votes were excluded. Incumbent Judge DaSean Jones (D) took the lead over challenger Tami Pierce (R) when all provisional and final absentee ballots were counted.

A similar situation arose in Bell Co., where polls were ordered open by an additional hour and provisional ballots were cast during that hour. As far as we can tell, the OAG has not challenged those ballots in court, though their reasoning for challenging the Harris Co. results should apply to Bell Co.

Trump Announces Comeback Bid, Exaggerates Election Performance

As expected, former President Trump announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination last night (Tues.).

During his hourlong address, Trump asserted that he received the most votes in the 2020 election and he won every community along the Texas border with Mexico. Both claims are false.

As the Democratic challenger, now President Biden received 7M more votes nationwide than Trump, 81.3M to 74.2M. Trump has previously and frequently asserted (though he did not last night) that the election was stolen from him (It wasn’t.) and he would have won by millions of votes if all fraudulently cast votes were removed from the tally (He wouldn’t.).

As for his assertion about his performance in Texas, Biden received nearly 162K more votes than Trump in the 14 counties that line the Rio Grande. Trump received 38% of the vote in those counties in 2020, well below a minimum majority necessary to claim victory.

Top Republican Performances in Border and Border-Adjacent Counties

Trump won seven of those 14 counties, which collectively comprised less than 4% of the votes cast in all the state’s border counties. Trump lost the five largest counties in terms of votes cast. It is true that Trump improved his vote percentage in each county from 2016. He improved by 10.6 percentage points across all 14 border counties overall.

Trump also called for an end to early and absentee voting. “I’ll get that job done,” he said. “That’s a very personal job for me.” More than 5.5M Texans voted early for last week’s general election, representing 68% of votes cast. In 2020, early voting was even more popular as more than 9.8M Texans voted early by mail or in person, representing 87% of votes cast. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) extended the early voting period to three weeks in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Early voting opportunities are provided by 46 states with an average of 23 days for in-person voting (Texas has 12 days.). Absentee voting is available to all voters, no excuse required, in 35 states. The other 15 states, including Texas, offer absentee voting options with specific excuses.

Trump also called for elections to be conducted exclusively with paper ballots.

Congressional Leadership: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) handily won caucus leadership elections. Several Texans publicly supported unsuccessful challengers. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) backed Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who received 10 of the 47 votes cast. U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) nominated and U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) seconded the nomination of Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who lost to McCarthy, 188-31, on a secret ballot. McCarthy must still be elected by a roll-call vote of the full House, which is not a foregone conclusion given the razor-thin majority Republicans will hold in the chamber.

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

Election Season Winds Down As Prefiling Legislation Begins

Today (Mon.) was the deadline for provisional voters to cure the reason they had to vote provisional (e.g., address did not match voter roll, left ID at home). Today was also the deadline for absentee voters to cure defects on their absentee ballot carrier envelopes (e.g., identification number was not written on it, mismatched identification numbers) in person at the county’s early voting clerk.

Today was also the last day ballots received from overseas voters could be accepted by county election officials.

Upcoming dates of interest include:

  • Thursday – last day voter registrars can complete review of provisional ballots; last day to mail notices of rejected absentee ballots
  • November 21 – last day the early voting ballot board can count late domestic ballots, provisional & overseas ballots
  • November 22 – last day for counties to canvass election results
  • November 26 – earliest day the state canvass can occur
  • December 8 – deadline for counties to provide electronic precinct-level results to Secretary of State’s office
  • December 12 – deadline to conduct state canvass

Recounts must be requested by 5 p.m. local time of the second day after the canvass is conducted, but since that date is variable, so is the recount request deadline. A recount can be requested if the margin of loss is less than 10% of the total number of votes cast for that office or if fewer than 1,000 votes were cast for all candidates for an office combined. An automatic recount occurs only if there is a tie.

PRES: A new CWS Research poll conducted for the state Republican Party finds Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leading former President Trump, 43%-32%, in a hypothetical primary race that included four other named potential candidates. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) was not one of them. If Trump does not run, DeSantis would be the choice of 66% of likely primary voters. The poll of 1,099 Texans was in the field Novemeber 12-13 and has a ±2.96% margin of error.

[https://texasgop.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/22.11.14-Republican-Party-of-Texas-Statewide-2024-R-Primary-Likely-Voter-Poll.pdf]

Prefiling: Today (Mon.) was the first day legislators and legislators-elect may file bills and resolutions for the 88th Regular Session, which convenes January 10. At least 75 of those first-day bills could impact elections in the state.

Turnout Fails to Reach 2018 Levels as 11 Million Texans Decline to Vote

Unofficial turnout figures indicate 7.8M Texans voted and another 11M could have but didn’t. A state record 9.6M registered voters did not cast ballots, and an estimated 1.4M Texans are eligible to vote but are not registered to vote. This is the third general election where more than 10M voting-eligible Texans chose not to vote, joining 2014 (11.9M) and 2010 (10.5M).

The number of votes cast was around 300K less than in 2018, while the number of registered voters increased by 1.9M since that election.

Measured as the percent of registered voters casting a ballot for an official gubernatorial candidate, turnout was 45.7%. This is down more than 7 points from 2018 (53.0%) but is otherwise the highest percentage for a mid-term election since 1994 (50.9%).

Measured as the percent of voting-eligible population casting a ballot for an official gubernatorial candidate, turnout was 42.3%. This is the second highest such percentage for a mid-term election since 1982, the oldest year for which an academic estimate of the voting-eligible population is available. In 2018, 46.3% of the voting-eligible population voted.

Put another way, imagine a room with 100 voting-eligible Texans standing in it:

  • 23 voted for Gov. Greg Abbott (R)
  • 19 voted for Beto O’Rourke (D)
  • 1 voted for someone else
  • 7 weren’t registered to vote, and
  • 50 didn’t vote.

Half the room was registered to vote but did not vote. And it’s not just this election they sat out.

More than 5M registered voters have not voted in any primary or general election in the last four election cycles, according to Republican strategist and data nerd Derek Ryan’s analysis of voter history. Of those, only about 300K had voted early for this year’s general election, leaving the remaining 4.8M still on the sidelines heading into Election Day.

According to the Secretary of State’s voter registration figures, a little over 1.8M of these 5M registered voters (36%) have suspense registrations. This usually means that the voter’s registration card was returned to the county voter registrar as undeliverable. Registered voters can hit the suspense list if they fail to respond to a notice seeking to confirm their address or if they get out of jury duty by saying they no longer reside in the county.

Suspense voters have the same right to vote as non-suspense voters, but they seldom do. In fact, if they are still on the suspense list on November 30 following the second general election since they landed on the list, then their registration is canceled the following January. In November 2020, there were 1.7M voters on the suspense list. In January 2021, the number dropped to 918K.

About one out of every five registered voters with no recent voting history registered after the November 2020 election, according to Ryan. We’ve now accounted for a little over half of registered voters with no recent voting history. The rest simply haven’t voted. If it’s because of dissatisfaction with the candidates, well, those were chosen in primary elections that have even lower turnout.

Let’s go back to that room with 100 voting-eligible Texans in it. If you asked for a show of hands of who voted in the primary, and they were being honest, you’d get this:

  • 10 voted in the Republican primary, of which 7 voted for Abbott
  • 6 voted in the Democratic primary, of which 5 voted for O’Rourke
  • 10 weren’t registered to vote, and
  • 74 didn’t vote.

One sixth of the room picked the candidates for everyone else.

For those races that went to a runoff, including several statewide races, well:

  • 5 voted in the Republican runoff
  • 3 voted in the Democratic runoff
  • 9 weren’t registered to vote (Thank you to the one who registered after the primary); and
  • 83 didn’t vote.

So that’s one out of every 12 people who picked runoff winners for everyone else. Three people out of the 100 voted for the Republican runoff winners, including Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R), and two out of the 100 voted for his eventual opponent, Rochelle Garza (D).

We’ve had to take a little liberty with rounding numbers here to keep the room at 100 people. For example, O’Rourke received 91% of the primary vote, but we can’t have a fractional person, so 5 out of 6 (83%) was the closest whole number we could choose. That said, this exercise demonstrates the non-voting nature of the electorate.

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

Republicans Sweep Statewide Races, Make Small Gains in Legislature

It could’ve been worse. Or better, depending on one’s perspective.

Republicans swept statewide offices for the 13th consecutive election cycle, and they already had built-in majorities in both legislative chambers. But it wasn’t a red wave as much as it was a regression to the mean.

As of 1:30 a.m. CST, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leads former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), 56%-43%. O’Rourke underperformed his 2018 campaign in each of the 15 counties with the most registered voters, leaving him to make up the difference in counties that weren’t favorable to him to begin with.

The top three Democrats on the ballot – O’Rourke, Mike Collier and Rochelle Garza – are within three tenths of a percentage point of each other. The rest of the statewide slate were between 40% and 42% of the vote. The spread between the top performer, O’Rourke, and the statewide Democrat with the lowest percentage, Luke Warford, stands at 3.1 percentage points, suggesting a very high rate of straight-party voting.

Redistricting largely took competitive seats off the map and instead locked in stable Republican majorities and solid Democratic blocs in each legislative chamber.

Republicans picked up a Senate seat – a foregone conclusion after Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson) dropped her re-election bid – and came within 570 votes of a second one. Morgan LaMantia (D) defeated Adam Hinojosa (R), 50.2%-49.8%, in a race that will almost certainly go to a recount. Republicans will hold a 19-12 advantage in January.

In the House, Republicans gained three seats but failed to capitalize on several opportunities to claim some winnable suburban and South Texas seats:

  • HD37, which is held by Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville), was won by Republican Janie Lopez, 52%-48%. Dominguez unsuccessfully sought a Senate seat.
  • HD52, which is held by Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock), was won by Republican Caroline Harris, 56%-44% (2 boxes were still out at press time). Talarico won in nearby HD50.
  • HD65, which is held by Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), was won by Republican Kronda Thimesch, 60%-40%. Beckley unsuccessfully ran for statewide office.

Democrats captured two Republican-held seats:

  • HD70, which is held by Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney), was narrowly won by Democrat Mihaela Plesa, 50.7%-49.3%, over Jamee Jolly (R). Sanford did not seek re-election.
  • HD92, which is held by Rep. Jeff Cason (R-Bedford), was won as expected by Salman Bhojani (D), 58%-42%. Cason did not seek re-election.

Republicans will enter the session with an 86-64 advantage.

We won’t know until we run the numbers, but the reddening of South Texas may have stalled. Reps. Bobby Guerra (D-Mission), Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi), Oscar Longoria (D-Mission), Mando Martinez (D-Weslaco), Eddie Morales Jr. (D-Eagle Pass) and Richard Raymond (R-Laredo) all won comfortably.

In the other competitive district, Rep. John Lujan (R-San Antonio), twice the winner of a special election for HD118, won a full term, 52%-48%, over his most recent special election rival, Frank Ramirez.

National Republicans had their eyes on three South Texas congressional seats but only claimed one. In CD15 open, Monica De la Cruz-Hernandez defeated Michelle Vallejo, 54%-46%. Democrats took back CD34 as U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) defeated U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Los Indios), 54%-46%, undoing a special election earlier this year. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) turned away Cassy Garcia, 55%-45%. The Texas congressional delegation will have 25 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Neither Republican U.S. senator was on the ballot this year.

We didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to county and local races tonight, but a couple races caught our eye:

  • In Harris Co., County Judge Lina Hidalgo (D) holds a narrow lead over Alexandra del Moral Mealer (R), 50.8%-49.2%, as of press time.
  • In Nueces Co., County Judge Barbara Canales lost to former Rep. Connie Scott (R-Corpus Christi), 56%-44%.
  • In Austin, Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) and former Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), himself a former mayor, are headed to a mayoral runoff. Israel finished first with 40.5% of the vote. Watson receive 35% of the vote.
  • In El Paso, Rep. Art Fierro (D-El Paso) advanced to a runoff against incumbent council member Claudia Lizette Rodriguez for the D6 seat.

We’ll take a look at more local results in the coming days.

As for turnout, the Secretary of State was reporting 7.2M voters as of press time, but the number should go up as counties finished their counts. We’ll explore turnout in more detail in the coming days.

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

General Election Preview: Statewide Sweep and Small Gains

Ordinarily, we preview an election with some analyses – hopefully insightful ones – around the storylines we’re following. This time, the storyline seems quite simple: It’s a bad year for Texas Democrats. They’ve been fighting gravity this entire cycle. The only reason it won’t be a worse year for Texas Democrats is redistricting largely replaced competitive seats with safe ones. There’s simply not that much that can be lost or won.

In some key respects, 2022 reminds us of 2010:

  • The sitting Republican governor is more popular (or less unpopular) than that Democratic president
  • The economy was the top issue for voters, and more than 40% of them think they are economically worse off than a year ago
  • The border is the next top issue for voters
  • Republicans lead the generic ballot
  • Nearly all statewide elected officials were seeking re-election
  • Aside from the gubernatorial nominee, the Democratic statewide candidates had very low name ID, insufficient resources and/or had lost previous statewide campaigns
  • An unpopular Democratic president was in the White House
  • Legislative Republican candidates have big campaign finance advantages, and a handful of big Republican donors dominated the 8-day-out reports; and
  • Polls consistently showed the Republican governor holding an upper single-digit lead over the Democratic challenger.

The key difference between 2022 and 2010 is where the election falls in the redistricting cycle. The 2010 election was the last election in that cycle. Over the decade, districts that were drawn Republican-leaning had become more competitive, and a spike in Democratic enthusiasm in 2008 brought them to within a couple of mail pieces from a 75-75 tie in the House. Democrats were thus defending lots of those seats, and they lost pretty much all of them, giving Republicans their first-ever triple-digit membership.

The 2022 election is the first of this redistricting cycle. The new maps locked in Republican majorities in both chambers, and they likewise locked in Democratic blocs. In between are a handful of competitive seats, mostly in South Texas and the suburbs, and those are all that could be won or lost. It cannot be the wipeout that was 2010.

As far as statewide races go, the Republican slate has swept 13 straight elections since the last Democrats were elected in 1994. Every state has elected a Democrat to statewide office since. Even though single-punch, straight-party voting is now a relic, straight-party voting remains extraordinarily high. The margins between the top-performing and lowest-performing candidates continue to narrow. We expect another sweep, and we expect the margins to be 9-12 points across the board, except AG, where a 5- to 7-point margin appears more likely.

The formula for Democratic success requires several disparate elements each to break the right way, as they nearly did in 2018 when then-U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) nearly upset U.S Sen. Ted Cruz (R):

  • Higher turnout among younger voters, infrequent voters and newly registered voters
  • Overall turnout more representative of a presidential election than a mid-term one
  • A gender gap wide enough, especially in the suburbs, to claw into a huge Republican advantage among men
  • Republican-leaning independents willing to split their ticket
  • Greater enthusiasm among Democratic voters than Republican ones
  • Sufficient support among and turnout from Hispanic/Latino voters
  • Strong support and turnout from Black voters; and
  • A gap in the rural red wall as Republican voters sense they have no real reason to vote (high likelihood of Republican success at the top coupled with non-competitive local races).

Most of that went O’Rourke’s way in 2018. The biggest exception was the rural red wall – it held. Cruz’s margin of victory came from counties with fewer than 20K voters.

O’Rourke faces a different environment this time. For starters, he’s challenging Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who has consistently been more popular (or less unpopular) than Cruz. O’Rourke also has to carry the burden of his disastrous presidential campaign, which contributed to his higher negative numbers this time around. And then there’s that bulleted list – none of them are as favorable to him as in 2018.

  • Early voting turnout is lower among younger voters, infrequent voters and newly registered voters.
  • Overall turnout is more representative of a mid-term election than a presidential one.
  • The gender gap isn’t as robust as it was four years ago, at least as far as polling goes.
  • Republican-leaning independents don’t appear to be as willing to support O’Rourke as they were in 2018, according to the polls.
  • Despite the end of Roe v. Wade and the fallout of January 6, Democratic enthusiasm isn’t greater than Republican enthusiasm – This is often the case in mid-term elections. The voters of the party out of the White House are typically more enthusiastic about voting against the president than the president’s party is enthusiastic about voting with him.
  • Hispanic/Latino voters, especially along the border, have rapidly shifted toward Republicans, decreasing the Democratic advantage rather than increasing it.
  • Black turnout appears to be lower than in 2018, at least in Black-majority precincts and zip codes in some of the bigger counties; and
  • That rural red wall has only gotten higher. Abbott’s vote percentage will look like speed limit signs in 200-plus counties.

As the party’s standard-bearer, O’Rourke appears poised to lose to Abbott by around 9 points. For another statewide Democrat to win, they would need the support of roughly one out of every 12 Abbott voters. If we assume straight-party voting is effectively as prevalent as it was in 2018, that equates to about one out of every three people who voted for Abbott and at least one Democrat somewhere on the ballot. That is a tall order.

Looking at districted offices, we project Republicans will gain:

  • One seat in the Senate (SD10 open) and narrowly miss gaining a second (SD27 open), giving them a 19-12 majority
  • Four seats net in the House – picking up HD37 open, HD52 open, HD65 open, HD70 open and HD74 (Morales) while losing HD92 open – for an 88-62 majority; and
  • One net seat in the U.S. House delegation – picking up CD15 open, retaining CD34 (Flores), taking new CD38 and losing new CD37 – for a 26-12 split.

CD28 (Cuellar) is also a potential pickup opportunity, but it requires the district’s electorate to shift quite a bit more, faster than CD15, which was ostensibly drawn as a pickup district. CD34 (Flores) is the only possible Democratic pickup.

In the Texas House, the only other potential Republican pickups are HD34 (Herrero) and, quite a bit longer shot, HD35 (Longoria) and HD41 (Guerra). The only other realistic possibility for a Democratic pickup is HD118 (Lujan). No other Texas Senate seats are realistically in play.

Most of the other storylines will require deeper dives into the data than what can be accomplished in the middle of a Tuesday night. Did Democratic gains in the suburban areas continue, slow or backtrack from 2018 and 2020? Did South Texas’s shift toward Republicans accelerate, stay the same or slow down a bit? Did turnout patterns ultimately look more like 2020 or 2018 (or 2014)? Did the rural red wall get higher (more net votes) or deeper (higher percentage) or both? Did expected lower turnout in blue counties result in lower net votes, lower percentages of the vote, or both? Did absentee ballot rejection rates more closely resemble 2020 or the 2022 primaries? Did Democrats retain the absentee ballot advantage they claimed in 2020, or did the historical partisan balance return?

Our live coverage will begin at 7 p.m. CST. At this point, we expect to sign off around midnight – a few hours earlier than we typically do – because of a relative lack of competitive races to watch. We’ll also be tweeting results and analysis @TXElects.

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

Turnout Appears Headed for the ‘Under’

Tuesday is Election Day.

Early voting ended below the 2018 mark, but daily turnout exceeded the 2018 numbers for the last three days of the early voting period.

Statewide, just under 5.5M Texans voted early in person or by mail through Friday, the end of the early voting period. The final number will rise a bit as mail ballots continue to be accepted. In 2018, the final early voting total was just south of 6M.

In the past three mid-term (gubernatorial) election cycles, about 2.3M Texans have cast ballots on Election Day. If the historical average holds, total turnout will be around 8M, which would fall short of the 8.33M cast in 2018. Our most recent estimate was 8.5M to 9.25M votes cast, so it appears we may be headed for the “under.”

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

Early Voting Ends on Positive Note

Early voting has ended for Tuesday’s general election.

Turnout continues to be below 2018 levels overall, but it showed signs of gaining ground over the past couple of days. For the first time this year, the number of early voters exceeded the same day in 2018 in the 15 counties with the most registered voters (RVs) on Wednesday and Thursday.

The cumulative number of votes cast in these counties through 10 days is down 13% – about 500K fewer – than in 2018. It is down 32% – roughly 1.5M voters – from 2020. Both of those percentages have decreased over the past couple of days.

Statewide, more than 4.75M Texans have voted in person or by mail through yesterday (Thur.), a turnout so far of 26.9%. As of this point in 2020, 6.9M Texans had already voted, a turnout of 407.5%. Only the 30 counties with the most RVs were required to report daily totals in 2018, so there is no comparable statewide figure.

Looking at the 30 counties with the most RVs, 3.8M votes have been cast so far, a decrease of 13% from the same point in 2018 and 31% from 2020. In the five counties with the most RVs – Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis – the number of votes cast is down 16% compared to 2018 and 33% compared to 2020.

In Harris Co., the total number of voters casting ballots early is down 15% from this point in 2018. Turnout is down more in Black- (19%) and Hispanic/Latino-majority (20%) zip codes than in White-majority (5%) zip codes, according to our analysis of turnout data compiled by Harris County Clerk Hector De Leon.

TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm, has been tracking early voting turnout by district. It models partisan affiliation of voters based on their own formulas. According to their modeling, here are the partisan predictions of voters for competitive districts:

  • SD27 (Toss Up): 53% Democrat, 31% Republican
  • HD34 (Toss Up): 57% Democrat, 30% Republican
  • HD35 (Lean D): 68% Democrat, 17% Republican
  • HD37 open (Lean R): 48% Democrat, 35% Republican
  • HD41 (Lean D): 56% Democrat, 26% Republican
  • HD70 open (Toss Up): 46% Democrat, 36% Republican
  • HD74 (Lean R): 53% Democrat, 31% Republican
  • HD118 (Lean R): 43% Democrat, 38% Republican
  • CD15 open (Likely R): 49% Democrat, 36% Republican
  • CD28 (Toss Up): 51% Democrat, 31% Republican; and
  • CD34 (Toss Up): 61% Democrat, 23% Republican.

The remainder for each district is “unaffiliated” according to their model.

Early voting continues to be dominated by primary voters. According to Republican strategist and data nerd Derek Ryan’s latest analysis, more than 70% of early voters have most recently voted in a Republican primary (42%) or a Democratic primary (29%). General election voters have cast 23% of ballots so far, and voters with no recent history have cast 5% of ballots.

As it has been in recent election cycles, turnout percentages are increase with the frequency of past voting. Ryan looked at the past four primary election cycles and found:

  • 81% of people who voted in each of the last four Democratic primaries and 76% who voted in each of the last four Republican primaries have already voted
  • 67% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans who voted in three of the past four primaries have already voted
  • 55% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans who voted in two of the past four primaries have already voted
  • 38% of Democrats and 41% of Republicans who voted in one of the past four primaries have already voted
  • 18% of people who have not voted in any of the past four primaries but have voted in at least one of the past four general elections have already voted; and
  • 5% of people who are registered to vote but have not voted in any of the past four primary or general elections have already voted.

As we have often said, voting begets voting.

Absentee Ballots: Of the 175K mail ballots that have been processed (not counted) so far, the rejection rate has been 1.78%, according to the Secretary of State. This is above the 2020 general election rejection rate of 1% but well below the 12.4% – one out of every eight – rejection rate for the March primary election. Of the rejected ballots in March, 58% were Democratic primary voters and 42% were Republican primary voters.

House Speaker: Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) filed to challenge Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).

Early Voting Turnout May Foretell Trouble for O’Rourke

Early voting concludes Friday for the November 8 general election.

Through yesterday (Tue.), the ninth day of the early voting period, 3.8M Texans have voted early in person (93%) or by mail (7%), corresponding to 21.5% of registered voters (RVs).

As of this point two years ago, an additional 2.1M people had already voted statewide. Compared to the same period in 2020, the total number of voters is down 35%. This percent decline in the number of voters from the immediately preceding presidential 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). Note: 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.

The number of votes cast in the 30 counties with the most RVs is down 19% from this point in 2018 and 36% from 2020. The number of votes cast in the five counties with the most RVs – Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis – is down 22% from 2018 and 38% from 2020. The number of RVs in those five counties has increased by 9% since 2018. Percent turnout in those five counties stands at 20.9%, a decrease of 8.6 percentage points from 2018.

Among the 10 counties with the most RVs, turnout is down most sharply in El Paso Co., home of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke. Compared to 2018, the number of votes already cast in El Paso Co. is down 38%. As of yesterday, turnout percentage there was 13.1% of RVs. At the same point in 2018, when O’Rourke was challenging U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R), turnout percentage was 23.5%.

Compared to 2018, the number of votes cast in Dallas Co. is down 31%, Harris Co. is down 22% and Travis Co. is down 21%. O’Rourke received 67%, 58% and 75% of the vote in those counties head-to-head against Cruz.

Looking statewide, the counties with the highest turnout percentage so far are Terrell (38.3%), Blanco (34.8%), Llano (34.4%), Jeff Davis (33.9%), Mason (31.1%), Bandera (31.0%), Kendall (30.7%), Loving (30.3%), Washington (30.2%), Foard (30.1%), Schleicher (30.1%), Comal (29.9%), Gillespie (29.9%) and Kerr (29.9%) Cos.

The counties with the lowest turnout percentage so far are Hudspeth (5.9%), Knox (7.7%), Parmer (8.0%), Lynn (8.4%), La Salle (10.1%), Jones (10.4%), Zavala (10.6%), Lamb (11.4%), Ector (11.6%), Crosby (11.7%), Dallam (11.8%), Cochran (12.0%), Winkler (12.2%), Lipscomb (12.4%), Bailey (12.6%) and El Paso (13.1%) Cos. Many of the state’s smaller counties operate a single early voting location, so it is often easier for to vote on Election Day there.

In 2018, nearly 40% of registered voters had cast ballots by the end of the early voting period. To reach that figure this year, 3.5M more Texans would need to vote by Friday. That’s almost the number of Texans who have already voted in nine days plus absentee ballots received prior to the early voting period.

As of this point in 2018, 64% of the early vote had already come in, leaving 36% to come in over the last three days. If those percentages hold for 2022, then around 2.1M votes will come in by Friday, bringing the 12-day total to just south of 7M early voters.

Looking at the 3.8M who have already turned out to vote, three out of four of them have recent primary election voting history, and nearly 500K more of those last voted in Republican primary than in a Democratic primary. Republican strategist and data nerd Derek Ryan’s latest analysis indicates primary voters represent a larger share of the early voting electorate than in 2018.

At this point in 2018, 32% of early voters in the top 15 counties had participated in at least one of the last four Republican primaries and the last primary they voted in was Republican. Democratic primary voters comprised just under 30% of early voters. General election-only voters represented 29% – nearly equal to each party – and “new” voters had cast 10% of votes to date.

According to Ryan, 43% of votes cast so far this year have been by Republican primary voters, 31% by Democratic voters (roughly the same as in 2018), 21% are general election-only voters are 4% are “new” voters, which means they have no history voting in the past four prior election cycles. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, it appears general election-only and “new” voters have been replaced by, or transformed into, Republican primary voters.

Voters under 30 have cast roughly one out of every 14 early votes so far in 2022. They cast roughly one out of every six votes in 2020 and one out of every eight in 2018. According to exit polling data, O’Rourke got 70% support from voters under 30 in his race against Cruz (measured head-to-head).

As we’ve previously opined, these turnout figures are not good for O’Rourke or other Democrats at the macro level. While we expect Election Day voting to rebound from a historically low level in 2020, we do not expect to see an overwhelming crush of O’Rourke voters.

Based on early turnout so far, O’Rourke could need around or just north of two thirds of Election Day voters to break his way, according to our rough back o’ the envelope calculations breaking out voters by age and voting history (Both estimates were within a point of each other.).

In 2018, about a quarter of all voters cast ballots on Election Day. If the 7M early vote figure we floated a few paragraphs above holds, and the 2018 Election Day voting share holds, then about 1.75M Texans would vote on Election Day. This would bring the overall vote total to around 8.75M, within but toward the lower end of our current turnout projection of 8.5M to 9.25M.

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

Abbott, O’Rourke Empty Wallets As Republicans Dominate Down Ballot

Statewide and legislative candidates facing general election opposition reported raising $47M and spending north of $72M during the monthlong period covered by the latest campaign finance reports. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke’s campaigns received 41% of those contributions and made 62% of those expenditures.

The candidates’ 8-day-out reports disclose contributions received and expenditures made between Sept. 30 and Oct. 29. They were due yesterday (Mon.) and became available online today (Tues.). Some remain unavailable, but they will add minimally to the totals reported above. Our Crib Sheets have been updated to show the latest numbers. We have also made our final adjustments to our race ratings, moving 30 races toward the Republicans based in part off these fundraising numbers.

Overall, contributions this period are down 14% compared to the same period in 2020, but the governor’s race and, to a much lesser extent, the LTGOV race skew the comparison. Excluding those two races, contributions are down 57% and expenditures are down 39% from two years ago. One factor is the governor’s race taking a lot of the oxygen out of the room, but the other driving force is a dramatic decrease in competitive House races after redistricting.

In 2020, House Republican candidates raised $27.3M and spent $11.7M during the period covered by their 8-day-out reports. This year, they raised $10.8M and spent $4.2M, representing decreases of 60% and 64%, respectively. House Democratic candidates raised $16.4M and spent $14.1M in 2020. This year, they raised $2.9M and spent $2.5M, declines of 82% from each figure in 2020.

Senate numbers are up slightly from 2020, but all 31 seats are on the ballot this year.

Statewide

GOV (Likely R): O’Rourke out-raised Abbott, $10.5M to $8.8M, and outspent him, $24.4M to $20.8M. Both candidates largely emptied their gas tanks. O’Rourke has $4.25M on hand, edging out Abbott’s $3.77M. It is the smallest cash on hand figure Abbott has reported as an executive branch elected official, barely beneath the $3.78M he reported in July 2005. Candidates were not required to report cash on hand prior to that date.

O’Rourke has out-raised Abbott, $67.6M to $63.9M, for the calendar year, but Abbott has the advantage over the two-year election cycle, $101.5M to $76.6M. Abbott has raised $140.8M since the beginning of 2019, an amount exceeding the total he raised between January 2011 and December 2018 ($135.8M). As governor, Abbott has raised $218.2M, nearly double the amount raised by former Gov. Rick Perry (R) during his gubernatorial tenure (excluding his presidential campaign).

O’Rourke is closing in on the $79M he raised for his 2018 U.S. Senate campaign for the most ever raised by a Democratic candidate in Texas for a statewide race. Abbott’s total for this two-year cycle was already the most in state history. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) raised more than $90M during a two-year period for his presidential campaign, but that was a nationwide contest and thus we exclude it from statewide campaigns.

This year’s gubernatorial contest is the most expensive in state history. Combined, Abbott and O’Rourke have raised more than $178M during the 2021-22 election cycle, easily surpassing the $113M in combined contributions for the 2018 U.S. Senate race between O’Rourke and Cruz and more than doubling the combined contribution totals from the 2014 gubernatorial race between Abbott and former Sen. Wendy Davis ($88M) and the 2002 race between Perry and Tony Sanchez ($83M).

LTGOV (Lean R > Likely R): Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) out-raised Democratic challenger Mike Collier, $3.3M to $713K, and outspent him, $5.1M to $1.5M. Patrick still has more than $16.5M on hand, suggesting confidence in his polling margin. Collier has $128K on hand.

AG (Lean R): Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R) out-raised Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza, $2.4M to $1.1M, and outspent her, $4.9M to $2.3M. Paxton has a 10-to-1 advantage in cash on hand, $2.9M to $285K.

Paxton disclosed a $750K loan from Defend Texas Liberty PAC but did not itemize any contributions. His five-page report includes this memo: “Totals are estimated and will be itemized.” His campaign has repeatedly failed to itemize contributions on reports by their respective due dates, and it appears to be the only campaign at the state or legislative level that experiences such regular difficulty with the filing system.

  • He filed a corrected January semiannual report nearly two weeks after the due date to itemize more than $2.1M in contributions
  • He filed a corrected 8-day-out report before the primary a day after it was due to itemize $913K in contributions. Three days later, he filed a corrected 8-day-out report to itemize an additional $1.8M in expenditures not previously reported (or included in the totals).
  • He filed a corrected July semiannual report itemizing $341K in contributions and $1.3M in expenditures two days after it was due. He initially reported more than $3.6M in unitemized contributions and $5.4M in unitemized expenditures for the period.

Defend Texas Liberty PAC’s report indicates it contributed $300K to Paxton’s campaign during the period covered by the 8-day-out reports. This is in addition to the $750K loan Paxton’s report disclosed.

LAND open (Likely R): Jay Kleberg (D) out-raised Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway), $626K to $581K, and outspent her, $1.4M to $696K. Buckingham has a $501K to $127K advantage in cash on hand.

RRC (Likely R): Democratic challenger Luke Warford out-raised Comm. Wayne Christian (R), $202K to $88K, and outspent him, $309K to $21K. Christian holds a $312K to $206K advantage in cash on hand but appears content to let political affiliation guide his electoral success.

Senate

SD27 open (Lean D > Toss Up): Republican Adam Hinojosa out-raised Democrat Morgan LaMantia, $662K to $136K. He was outspent, $630K to $218K, but $530K of his contributions were in kind. Hinojosa’s largest contributors for the period were Associated Republicans of Texas PAC ($229K), Houston Regional Business Coalition ($200K), Protect and Serve PAC ($51K), Dallas hotelier Monty Bennett ($50K) and Texans for Responsible Government PAC ($50K). LaMantia’s largest contributors were Texas Assoc. of Realtors TREPAC ($42K) and Texas Trial Lawyers Assoc. PAC ($25K). LaMantia added $550K to her loan balance, which stands at just over $5M.

House

HD34 (Lean D > Toss Up): Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) out-raised Carolyn Vaughn, $124K to $56K, but was narrowly outspent by the challenger, $147K to $142K. She has narrowly outspent the incumbent, $287K to $276K, since July 1.

HD35 (Likely D > Lean D): Rep. Oscar Longoria (D-Mission) out-raised challenger Oscar Rosa, $91K to $60K, but was outspent, $103K to $62K. Longoria has $308K on hand – a high figure for an incumbent in a potentially competitive race.

HD37 open (Toss Up > Lean R): Republican Janie Lopez out-raised Democrat Luis Villarreal Jr., $735K to $57K. Her campaign outspent his, $67K to $54K, and $644K on her contributions were in kind. Lopez’s largest contributors were Associated Republicans of Texas PAC ($304K), Republican State Leadership Committee Grassroots Account ($150K), Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC ($90K), Texans for Responsible Government PAC ($50K), Protect and Serve Texas PAC ($38K), Texas House Republican Caucus PAC ($20K) and House Speaker Dade Phelan’s campaign ($10K).

HD52 open (Lean R > Likely R): Republican Caroline Harris out-raised Luis Echegaray (D), $601K to $8K, and outspent him, $127K to $7K. She has a $146K to $9K advantage in cash on hand.

HD61 open (Likely R): Republican Frederick Frazier out-raised Sheena King (D), $189K to $24K, and outspent her, $89K to $21K, suggesting recent media stories raising questions about his job performance as a police officer have had no impact on the race.

HD63 open (Lean R > Likely R): Republican Ben Bumgarner out-raised Denise Wooten (D), $218K to $5K, and outspent her, $54K to $3K.

HD70 open (Lean D > Toss Up): Republican Jamee Jolly out-raised Mihaela Plesa (D), $1.4M to $221K. Plesa nominally outspent Jolly, $120K to $80K, but more than $1.2M of Jolly’s contributions were in kind. Jolly’s leading contributors for the period were Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC ($331K), Associated Republicans of Texas PAC ($325K), Republican State Leadership Committee Grassroots Account ($253K), Speaker Dade Phelan’s campaign ($242K), Texas Assoc. of Realtors TREPAC ($75K), Protect and Serve Texas PAC ($43K), Texans for Responsible Government PAC ($40K) and Texas House Republican Caucus ($20K).

HD74 (Toss Up > Lean R): Republican challenger Katherine Parker out-raised Rep. Eddie Morales Jr. (D-Eagle Pass), $669K to $65K. Morales outspent her, $68K to $33K, but $637K of her contributions were in kind. Parker’s top contributors were Associated Republicans of Texas PAC ($302K), Republican State Leadership Committee Grassroots Account ($235K) and Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC ($115K).

HD112 (Lean R > Likely R): Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Garland) out-raised Democratic challenger Elva Curl, $427K to $77K, and outspent her, $452K to $81K.

HD118 (Toss Up > Lean R): Rep. John Lujan (R-San Antonio) out-raised Democratic challenger Frank Ramirez, $1.2M to $239K, and nominally outspent him, $140K to $126K. More than $970K of Lujan’s contributions were in kind.

©2022 Texas Election Source LLC

2024 Runoff Election

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Laura Carr

Laura Carr

Co-Founder & Head of Business Development TXLege AI & Owner TXElects

Laura Carr began her political career in Washington, D.C., working in various policy and communication roles for legislative offices in both the House and Senate on Capitol Hill. Laura later worked in fundraising at The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and No Labels—a bipartisan nonprofit dedicated to finding common-ground solutions.

Laura returned to the Lone Star State, where she served in the Office of the Texas Governor, later making a notable impact as the Government Relations Director at The Brannan Firm. Most recently, Laura was Policy Director specializing in technology policy in the Texas Senate.

Laura earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Alabama.  As Head of Business Development for Texas Election Source, Laura acts as a liaison between new and previous customers.

Jeff Blaylock

Jeff Blaylock

TXElects Founder & Senior Editor

Jeff Blaylock offers more than 25 years of political analysis, campaign, government, and advocacy experience, Jeff is a noted expert on Texas elections and the legislative process. He served the Texas House of Representatives as a Chief Committee Clerk for the powerful State Affairs Committee and the Financial Institutions Committee. During his time in the Capitol, Jeff became a legislative process and rules expert. No point of order was ever sustained against the committees’ legislation under his leadership. Jeff served as a policy and budget analyst for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He served in various management roles in numerous political campaigns across the country.

He began offering his election insights and predictions to his public affairs clients in 2005. He published Texas Election Source for nearly a decade and returns now as Senior Editor. Jeff understands public policy and the ways issues can resonate in elections. As managing director at the respected public affairs firm Public Strategies (now Hill+Knowlton Strategies), he advised clients on legislative strategies, public affairs, strategic and crisis communication, and brand reputation.

Jeff earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism with a political science minor from Texas Christian University and a Master’s in public policy from Georgetown University. Jeff is currently the VP of Client Services at Kith, a crisis management consulting firm.

Eric Davis

Eric Davis

Co-Founder & CEO TXLege AI & Owner TXElects

Eric Davis is a seasoned visionary in the realm of go-to-market strategy. Eric is renowned for his expertise in tech companies in Silicon Valley. His most distinguished accomplishment lies in his role at Prodigy Software, where he led revenue generation and masterminded the strategic blueprint from the company’s inception to its $100 million acquisition by Upstart Holdings.

Beyond his tenure at Prodigy, Eric has continued to contribute to the tech landscape by actively investing in and advising numerous companies at the forefront of introducing new technology into the tech industry, including cutting-edge AI tech. Eric’s understanding of AI and the intricacies of go-to-market strategies brought him the opportunity to work within the underserved realm of Texas politics. 

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