Some superstitious Democrats might see reports of really good early-voting numbers from Texas and immediately avert their gazes. It hasn’t been that long, after all, that reports of a Democratic advantage in early voting in places like Florida and North Carolina contributed materially to Democratic overconfidence in a Hillary Clinton victory.
No one is likely to predict that Texas is on the brink of turning blue based on the early-voting numbers we are seeing right now. They are for a primary (to be held next Tuesday), not a general election. And they are only from the state’s largest counties, not the rural areas where Republicans are traditionally very strong. But still: They are impressive, as Vox notes:
Democratic turnout has increased by 90 percent compared to the 2014 midterms and is even above the 2016 presidential election year levels. Republican early voter turnout is up by 17 percent from 2014 but still lagging behind 2016 turnout.
That’s a big partisan differential, particularly since the GOP’s numbers are what you would expect from a pretty good midterm turnout pattern. And while you should take these comments with a large grain of salt since they are undoubtedly motivated by the desire to scare Republicans into voting and/or contributing money, Texas GOP leaders sure seem alarmed by the Democratic early-voting tide, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Sen. Ted Cruz told a group of Republican voters this month that the left would “crawl over broken glass in November to vote. … We could get obliterated at the polls,” and other Republicans appear to be taking the Democratic surge seriously. Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign sent supporters an email Monday asking for donations to help him get out the vote, warning that the early voting numbers “should shock every conservative to their core.”
In truth, the early-voting numbers mostly confirm what we have been learning from special elections all over the country: Democrats are very enthusiastic about voting right now. That does not guarantee any sort of particular outcome in November, in Texas or anywhere else. But it does confirm that Democrats are likely to enjoy something along the lines of the midterm turnout advantage that the GOP had in 2010 and 2014. For Donkey Party stalwarts who remember those election nights as nearly depressing as November 8, 2016, that could turn some well-earned frowns upside down.