We continue our look into straight-ticket voting trends in today’s competitive or potentially competitive districts by looking at HD40 in Hidalgo Co. After examining the straight-ticket voting data going back to 2004, we conclude that neither label can be applied to HD40.
Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) is seeking a third term. He is opposed by Mari De Leon, a legislative aide to Rep. Gilbert Pena (R-Pasadena). She is the first Republican to seek HD40 since 1996. No minor party candidates filed for the seat.
Generally speaking, Republicans have been gaining footholds in South Texas, and Republican candidates are running in an increasing number of races in many South Texas counties. However, HD40 is trending toward becoming a stronger Democratic seat. The number of Republican straight-ticket voters is largely flat between 2004 and 2012 while the number of Democratic straight-ticket voters has doubled.
Estimates of the number of straight-ticket and full-ballot votes cast in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and the actual number of those votes in the 2012 presidential election are shown below.
- Straight Republican – 3,000 21% 21%
- Straight Democratic – 7,300 51% 51%
- Full Ballot – 6,000 42% 42%
Democratic Advantage: ~4,300 votes
- Straight Republican – 2,500 18% 18%
- Straight Democratic – 10,600 75% 75%
- Full Ballot – 9,100 64% 64%
Democratic Advantage: ~8,100 votes
- Straight Republican – 3,031 21% 21%
- Straight Democratic – 14,201 100% 100%
- Full Ballot – 8,357 59% 59%
Democratic Advantage: 11,180 votes
Our analysis cannot go as far back into history here as we have done with some of the more urban/suburban districts. Data from 2000 were not available. We could utilize early voting numbers only for 2004, as the information we received from Hidalgo Co. did not specifically tally straight-ticket votes cast on Election Day by precinct.
Even with these limitations, it appears that Republican straight-ticket voters represent a declining share of voters overall, while Democratic straight-ticket voters have grown to a majority of all voters.
In 2012, a majority of HD40 voters cast Democratic straight-ticket votes. If that performance repeats in 2016, it will be virtually impossible for a Republican to carry this district.