Storylines From Primary Night

By Jeff Blaylock – Founder & Senior Editor

MAR. 15, 2024

Turnout

Based on preliminary figures, 3.29M Texans voted in the Republican and Democratic primaries combined. This is the fourth most in state history behind 2016 (4.27M), 2008 (4.24M) and 2020 (4.11M).

The 2.32M Republican primary voters is the second most in state history behind 2016 (2.84M). It is the third time in state history that at least 2M Texans voted in a Republican primary. It is also the third most voters in any party’s primary in state history, trailing only the 2008 Democratic primary (2.87M) and the 2016 Republican primary (2.84M). Republican turnout has exceeded 1M voters in nine straight primary elections.

A total of 975K people voted in this year’s Democratic primary, which is the first Democratic primary since 2014 to see fewer than 1M voters. It is nonetheless a higher figure than in 2010 (681K), 2012 (590K) and 2014 (547K). This year’s turnout ranks 35th for the Democratic primary in state history.

Measured as the percent of registered voters casting ballots, this year’s combined primary turnout was 18.35%. This is 7 percentage points below 2020 and 11.7 percentage points below 2016.

Now for the bad news. A record 14.65M registered voters did not vote in this year’s primary elections. This represents 2.55M more non-voting registered voters than in 2020 and 4.69M more than in 2016. This is the fourth straight primary election, and the 10th of the last 12 primary elections, where at least 10M registered voters sat out the primary.

An estimated 2.1M Texans were eligible to vote but had not registered, raising the total number of non-voters to a record 16.73M.

Non-voters include non-voting registered voters and estimated non-registered eligible voters

Put another way, 5 out of every 6 people who could have voted in the primary did not. That leaves the remaining 16.4% of the voting eligible population to effectively decide more than 98% of all county and state elected offices on this year’s ballot.

Other Questions

  • Can Colin Allred avoid a runoff in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz?
    • Yes, with 58.8% of the vote.
  • Will Rep. Victoria Neave become the first primary challenger to oust a sitting state senator since 2018 and the first to oust a sitting Democratic state senator since 2006?
    • No. She lost to Sen. Nathan Johnson, 59%-41%.
  • Will U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales be forced into a runoff in South Texas amid record levels of Republican voting there?
    • Yes. Gonzales received 45% of the vote and faces Brandon Herrera (25%) in the runoff. More than 57K people voted for one of the five candidates, exceeding the 48K who voted in the 2022 Republican primary for CD23.
  • Which candidates will emerge from crowded fields for open congressional seats, and how small will their vote percentages be?
    • More on this later.
  • What surprises are in store for us?
    • More on this later.

Of the 21 House incumbents facing multiple primary challengers, eight won outright, nine were forced into runoffs and four lost outright. Half the eight winners were Democrats, and all four of the outright losses were suffered by Republicans. Overall, the Democrats’ record was four wins, no losses and one runoff. The Republicans’ record was four wins, four losses and eight runoffs.

From 2008 to 2022, 53 House incumbents – 40 Republicans and 13 Democrats – have faced multiple primary challengers. Of those, 30 won outright and two lost outright. The other 21 were forced into runoffs, 14 of which ultimately lost.

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