Texas is key this Super Tuesday. It’s what NPR is calling the “crown jewel of the evening.”
All across the state voters are turning out to cast their ballot in the primaries, which will help determine which candidate each party will nominate as their candidate for the 2016 presidential bid. Republicans have 155 delegates up for grabs, and Democrats have 222.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is hoping to make a decisive statement with a victory of suitable margin over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side, the question is whether the state’s junior senator, Ted Cruz, can hold off the national front runner, Donald Trump. Turnout could be decisive in both contests.
Today’s not only about the national presidential vote, however. There’s also statewide elections for 150 Texas House seats and half of the Senate seats. Voters will also help choose nominees for Railroad Commissioner, state appellate courts and the State Board of Education.
For U.S. Congress, all of the state’s 36 U.S. House districts are on the ballot. To add more to the mix, there’s a few local nominees to vote for as well.
We checked in with reporters at polling locations around the state.
Stella Chávez with KERA North Texas, reporting from Plano up in Collin County, says despite the area leaning more to the right, there’s been quite a diverse turnout.
“There have been a lot of people here throughout the morning,” Chavez says. “People were here when the polls opened at 7:00 am and the line has actually been out the door.”
She’s predicting a win for Cruz in this county, but she’s also heard from Clinton and Sanders supporters,
“I attended some rallies over the weekend,” she says. “(There was) a lot of excitement for Bernie Sanders. I was impressed with the turnout. It was a mostly young crowd – a lot of people under 30, but there were quite a few older people there.”
Chavez says the Sanders rally had a different energy than a recent rally with former President Bill Clinton a few days before.
“People were excited and enthusiastic,” she says. “I felt like the energy at the Bernie Sanders was just a lot more intense.”
Joey Palacios with Texas Public Radio, attended a Cruz rally in San Antonio yesterday. Cruz was flanked by Gov. Greg Abbott and former Gov. Rick Perry. Palacios says Cruz seemed optimistic.
“He spent a lot of his time attacking Donald Trump, saying he was the only candidate that could defeat Trump,” Palacios says. “He went as far as to call on Trump to release some audio that the New York Times may or may not have regarding Trump’s immigration stance that he talked about at an editorial meeting.”
There’s been some talk that Trump might have a different immigration perspective than what he’s saying on stage. Cruz says Trump should release the audio to either show he has different views, or to prove his views are the same as his campaign.
Palacios says the scene today looks good, according to Bexar County elections officials.
“We’ve already seen long lines at the polls,” he says. “Which for most elections is a little rare. But we are seeing what looks like what could be higher turnout that most primaries.”
Ashley Lopez, with KUT in Austin, says she’s in South Austin in a typical neighborhood polling place, an elementary school.
“There’s been a long line,” she says. “I heard the early voting was kind of active this year. Not quite as active as 2008, but Dana Debeauvoir, the election supervisor here in Austin said it was a pretty active year.”
She says there’s parents coming and dropping off their kids for school and then staying to vote.
“I’m also seeing a lot of candidates out on the lawn,” she says. “There’s some local races and so this is like a good place to kind of make your last pitch to voters before they head on in.”