Dems double turnout in Texas from previous midterm
Texas Democrats on Tuesday more than doubled their primary election turnout from four years ago, providing the party with a modest boost as it looks to take on the GOP in the conservative state during this year’s midterm elections.
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 1 million Democrats cast ballots in the party’s primary election, compared to 1.5 million who voted in the Republican primary. That puts the Democratic share of votes cast at about 40 percent, a significant increase from the 2014 midterms, where Democrats made up less than 30 percent of the vote.
Democrats had been hoping for big numbers ever since early vote totals showed the party with a narrow early vote lead in the top 15 most populous counties, but the end result was more modest. The uptick will likely foster Democratic enthusiasm about the possibility of competing in tough races across Texas this year, even if the party is still outnumbered in the reliably conservative state.
More than 1.3 million voters backed Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in his Republican primary on Tuesday, while about 640,000 backed Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D). The two will square off in the November general election.
While O’Rourke had impressed many observers in the early months of his campaign and has posted strong fundraising numbers, the Democratic nominee struggled in the southern areas of the state, many of which are situated on the border and have higher Hispanic populations. Hispanic turnout will be key for the Democratic effort in the fall.
Cruz has sounded the alarm for his party about Democratic turnout, telling a reporter this week that he’s concerned.
“The extreme left is energized and angry, and it makes it all the important for conservatives to show up in November,” he told CNN.
“If conservatives stay home, if we rest on our laurels, we could see Texas turn blue.”
The boost in turnout, even if below the Republican levels, could help the party in its efforts to unseat Republicans in districts won by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Democrats in all three of those districts posted strong turnout numbers, while Republicans faced no serious primary challenges.