Much ink – print and digital – has been used to describe Tuesday’s turnout in the Nation’s first mid-term primary election. Generally speaking, that coverage has looked only at recent history. Within that window, Tuesday’s turnout, especially Democratic turnout, was relatively strong. We wanted to take a longer look and highlight some reasons why turnout was good, and some reasons why turnout was not so good.
- At least 2.5M Texans participated in the primary election, highest ever for a mid-term election year and fourth-highest ever for any election year.
- More than 37% more people voted in the primary than in 2014.
- Both parties had 1M primary voters for the first time ever in a mid-term election year and just the fourth time in state history.
- Just 17% of registered voters participated in the primary elections, almost the same percentage as in 2010 and lower than in any mid-term election held between the end of the poll tax era and 1994.
- A record 12.7M registered voters did not participate in the primary elections.
- At least 10M registered voters stayed home for the fifth consecutive mid-term primary election.
- At least 1M participated in the Democratic primary for the first mid-term election since 2002.
- More people voted in the Democratic primary than in any mid-term election since 1990.
- Nearly 90% more people voted in this year’s primary than in 2014.
- The number of mid-term Democratic primary voters more than doubled since 2006.
- Measured as the percent of registered voters casting ballots, Democratic turnout was the second highest for a mid-term primary election since 1994.
- 13 other mid-term Democratic primary elections have seen more voters, including seven held during the poll tax era saw more Democratic primary voters.
- Fewer people voted in the 2018 Democratic primary than in the 1938 Democratic primary.
- 450K fewer people voted in this year’s Democratic primary than in 1990, the last time the gubernatorial nominee was decided by a runoff election.
- Measured as the percent of registered voters casting ballots, Democratic primary turnout this year ranked 9th out of the 13 mid-term primary elections held since the poll tax was repealed.
- Measured as the percent of registered voters casting ballots, turnout this year was a little over a third of the turnout of 1990 and less than a sixth the turnout of 1970.
- At least 1.5M participated in the Republican primary, highest ever for a mid-term primary election and second-highest for any election year, trailing only 2016.
- It is the third straight mid-term primary election in which at least 1M people voted in the Republican primary (1.3M, actually)
- The number of Republican mid-term primary voters has more than doubled since 2006.
- The drop-off in participation from the previous presidential primary (1.29M fewer voters) is the largest ever for the Republican party and second-highest in state history, trailing only the 2010 Democratic primary (2.2M fewer voters).
- Measured as the percent of registered voters casting ballots, Republican turnout was less than in 1990.
Regardless of these historical points, Texas currently ranks as the highest primary election turnout in the country for the 2018 election cycle. Of course, Texas is the only state that has held a primary election so far in the 2018 election cycle. The Illinois primary is March 20.
©2018 Texas Election Source LLC