Statewide runoff turnout stands at 4.4% of registered voters – slightly more than one out of every 25 – as of the end of the early voting period, according to preliminary data reported to the Secretary of State’s office. Just over 750K people have voted early so far, 465K (2.7% of RVs) in the Republican runoff and 291K (1.7%) in the Democratic runoff.
Unlike primaries, which occur across the state in every precinct and at multiple levels of government, runoffs are “lumpy.” Unless there is a statewide office on the runoff ballot, many voters may not live in a county or district with an office on their preferred party’s runoff ballot. Turnout is much easier to determine when there is a statewide race on the ballot – total number of votes cast in that race – than where is not. Absent a statewide runoff, turnout has to be calculated based on county-level race data, which are not always available because the Secretary of State does not collect or publish county office results. Fortunately, statewide offices are on the ballot for both parties this year for the first time since 2016.
Combined turnout already exceeds that election. Statewide, just under 4% of RVs cast ballots in the 2016 runoffs. This year’s turnout percentage also exceeds the 2006 runoffs, when combined turnout was just south of 3% of RVs. Election Day voters could push statewide turnout ahead of other “recent” years when both parties had statewide races: 2014 (7.0%), 2002 (6.9%) and 1996 (7.4%).
Absent an unusually strong Election Day surge, combined turnout will fall short of 10% of RVs. Since 1994, combined turnout has exceeded 10% just once (2012).
The raw number of Republican voters is already the third highest in state history for a statewide runoff, trailing only 2012 (1.11M) and 2014 (753K). We estimated that around 610K people voted in the 2020 Republican runoff based on a combination of state- and county-level data, and this would have been the third highest in state history had there been a statewide election. The raw number of Democratic voters already exceeds the total number of people who voted in each of the 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016 statewide runoffs.
It is likely that more than 1M Texans will vote in the runoffs for the 10th time in state history but just the third time combining statewide Republican and Democratic races. Six other times, more than 1M people voted in the Democratic runoff alone, and as noted, the figure was reached in 2020 because of combined county turnout in the Republican runoff.
Runoff turnout is typically influenced most by local races, and this year has been no exception. Early voting turnout exceeds 9% in a party’s primary in 26 of the state’s 254 counties. A runoff for county judge and/or another countywide office is taking place in 19 of those 26 counties (73%). In eight of those 19 counties, a runoff for at least one districted county office is also on the ballot with at least one countywide office. In another six counties, at least one districted county office is on the ballot but no countywide office (23%).
Of the 26, only Stephens Co. voters had no county offices on their runoff ballot. Voters instead may be focused on the HD60 runoff between Rep. Glenn Rogers (R-Graford) and Mike Olcott. In the March primary, Rogers defeated Olcott, 75%-19%, there. Just six other counties out of the 26 have a significant legislative or congressional runoff on the ballot.
SD27 open (Lean D): Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville), who finished third in the primary with 25% of the vote, endorsed Sara Stapleton-Barrera (D) in the runoff over Morgan LaMantia.
HD93 open (Likely R): Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) endorsed Nate Schatzline (R) in the runoff over Laura Hill, putting him at odds in this race with Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).
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