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Texas, which ranked last out of the 50 states in turnout in the 2010 and 2014 mid-term elections, appears to rank around 35th this year. An estimated 46% of voting-eligible Texans cast ballots for a U.S. Senate candidate, a significant jump from the 28% who voted for governor in 2014. Texas has ranked no higher than 41st since 2000, the earliest year for which reliable estimates of the voting-eligible population are available*:

  • 2000 – 41st (49.2%)
  • 2002 – 46th (34.5%)
  • 2004 – 48th (53.7%)
  • 2006 – 48th (30.9%)
  • 2008 – 47th (54.1%)
  • 2010 – 50th (32.1%)
  • 2012 – 47th (49.6%)
  • 2014 – 50th (28.3%)
  • 2016 – 48th (51.4%)
  • 2018 – currently 35th (45.9%)

This was the highest turnout, in terms of number of votes cast, for a gubernatorial election in state history. More than 3.6M more people voted this year than in 2014.

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The number of votes cast in the past three gubernatorial elections has averaged 40% fewer than in the preceding presidential election. This year, the number of voters declined just 7% from 2016.

The voting-eligible population in Texas is estimated to be around 18.1M. A record 15.8M Texans are registered to vote, which means that around 2.3M Texans who are eligible to vote are not registered. Of the 15.8M registered voters, a little over 8.3M voted. This means around 9.75M people who were eligible to vote did not participate in Tuesday’s election.

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That’s 2 million fewer non-participants than in 2014, when nearly 12M eligible Texans did not vote in the general election won by Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Notably, the number of eligible Texans who are not registered has fallen in each of the last two election cycles from its 2014 peak of 2.65M. To put that last number in perspective, Abbott received 2.8M votes that year, so almost as many Texans did not register to vote as voted for Abbott.

Some other statewide highlights from Tuesday’s results:

  • Beto O’Rourke is the first Democrat in state history to receive 4M votes. He surpasses Hillary Clinton, who received 3.9M votes in 2016, as the top Democratic vote-getter in state history.
    • O’Rourke’s 2.7% loss to Cruz was the closest a Democrat has come to ousting a Republican incumbent since 1978, when Bob Krueger lost to Sen. John Tower by 0.5%.
    • O’Rourke’s 48.3% is the most for a Democratic U.S. Senate nominee since former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen was last elected in 1988 and 4.4 percentage points more than the previous best performance, Victor Morales in 1996.
    • It was the highest percentage for a Democratic U.S. Senate nominee in a gubernatorial year since Bentsen’s 1982 re-election race. O’Rourke received nearly 14 percentage points more than 2014 nominee David Alameel.
    • O’Rourke won 32 counties, five more than Hillary Clinton in 2016 and four more than Barack Obama in 2008.
    • He received less than 20% of the vote in 104 counties. Two years ago, Clinton received less than 20% of the vote in 122 counties.
  • Abbott’s 4.6M votes were the most ever received by a gubernatorial nominee, breaking his own record of 2.8M set four years ago.
    • Abbott fell just short of getting as many votes as Donald Trump in 2016.
    • Justice Eva Guzman (R) remains the top performer in state history with 4.9M votes, which she received in 2016.
  • Lupe Valdez received the most votes of any Democratic gubernatorial candidate in state history. She received nearly double the number of votes that Wendy Davis got in 2014.
  • Since 2002, just four statewide Democratic nominees had received at least 45% of the vote prior to Tuesday. Nine statewide Democratic nominees exceeded 45% this year.
    • Just six statewide Democratic nominees had ever received at least 3.5M votes prior to Tuesday. All 13 statewide Democratic nominees received at least 3.5M votes this year.
    • Four statewide Democratic nominees – O’Rourke, Mike Collier (LTGOV), Justin Nelson (AG) and Kim Olson (AGRIC) – lost by less than 5% of the vote. No statewide Democrat has been within 5% of a Republican opponent since John Sharp (LTGOV) and Paul Hobby (COMP) in 1998.
  • Republicans won every statewide race for the 12th straight general election. They have won the last 137 statewide races, 143 if presidential races are included. Every other state in the Nation has elected a Democrat to statewide office since Texas last did.
  • A little over 2.34M people voted on Election Day, the third smallest number since 1996. The only recent general elections with fewer Election Day voters were 2010 (2.33M) and 2014 (2.16M). This year’s election finished just behind 2016 (2.37M).
  • Early voters cast 72% of all votes for U.S. Senator, a slight decrease from 73.5% in 2016. It is the highest such percentage for a gubernatorial election in state history, up nearly 18 percentage points from 2014, the previous record-holder.
  • The Libertarian Party is guaranteed access to the 2020 ballot. Mark Ash, the party’s nominee for a Court of Criminal Appeals seat, received 25.3% of the vote. That appears to be the highest share of the vote a statewide Libertarian nominee has ever received in Texas. No Democrat sought the seat. Ash received more than 1.6M votes, which also appears to be a Libertarian record.

* The U.S. Elections Project, which is run by Univ. of Florida professor Michael McDonald, calculates the voting-eligible population by removing estimates of the non-citizen and felon populations from the U.S. Census estimate of the voting-age population.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC