As Polls Close, All Eyes Turn To Counting The Votes

Updated election analysis and results from primary contests around the state

By Texas StandardMarch 3, 2020 7:00 am

Remaining Candidates Hope Super Tuesday Narrows The Presidential Field

Some observers have tried to narrow the presidential contest a two-person race between Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. LBJ School of Public Affairs professor Sherri Greenberg says Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s best hope to stay in the race is a brokered convention. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who has so far spent $500 million on his campaign, has begun to tamp down expectations that he would do well on Super Tuesday. Angela Kocherga, news director at KTEP in El Paso, says more people than usual are engaged in the presidential contest. And in addition to the presidential and Senate races on the primary ballot, the race for El Paso district attorney  is making headlines in West Texas.

Texas’ Most Continuous House Contests

Progressive candidate Jessica Cisneros is running against the conservative Democrat, and long-time incumbent, Rep. Henry Cuellar in District 28. Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston, says this is an election to watch closely because it will be indicative of whether progressive Democrats in Texas are able to make inroads in the party. Republican House incumbent Rep. Kay Granger faces a challenge from Chris Putnam, who says he is running because Granger is not conservative enough. Republican Reps. Mac Thornberry and Kenny Marchant are both retiring after more than a decade in Washington. Fifteen Republicans are vying to replace Thornberry, and the race for Marchant’s seat is occurring in one of the suburban districts that Democrats are hoping to flip to blue. Sherri Greenberg says the population in the formerly conservative district is changing.

What Campaign Ad Spending Buys

How candidates use media – both paid and free – can have a huge impact on the way a campaign is perceived. But it isn’t always a guarantee of success. Candidates like Michael Bloomberg have invested heavily in advertising, and in paid social media. Sherri Greenberg says Bloomberg’s spending has also raised the cost of buying advertising for all candidates. Early results don’t yet indicate that Bloomberg is on his way to a victory in Texas.  Angela Kocherga says Bloomberg has spent heavily on Spanish-language advertising, and has high name recognition in West Texas. Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders have emphasized their immigrant roots as they appeal to newly naturalized citizens in El Paso.

Even Before Polls Closed, Super Tuesday Delivered A Few Surprises

Joe Biden’s surge in attention and support during the past few days has been surprising, according to Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas.  Jenifer Sarver, a former Republican Congressional candidate and a communication consultant at Sarver Strategies says President Donald Trump has motivated both Democrats and Republicans to vote. She says more Republicans than Democrats cast early ballots during this cycle. She says a concern for her party is that far more young people voted in the Democratic primary than in the Republican contest, and that this is an indication that Republicans need to better articulate their values.

More Closely-Watched Races for Democrats And Republicans

The GOP is focusing its efforts on winning back U.S. House District 32, which Democrat incumbent Colin Allred won from Pete Sessions in 2018, with a field of primary challengers competing for the chance. Sessions is now running for – and is currently the leading contender – for the Republican nomination in House District 17. Ben Philpott of KUT News in Austin says his newsroom is most closely watching the Democratic contest for a spot in the general election against Sen. John Cornyn in November. Twelve Democrats are on the ballot, so a runoff is almost certain. Currently, Air Force veteran M.J. Hegar, State Sen. Royce West, and labor organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez are leading the field.