Friday is the last day of early voting in Texas ahead of Tuesday’s election – which comes as a sigh of relief for many. Back in July, a Pew Research survey found that nearly six in 10 Americans were worn out by election coverage – a number that has surely gone up as the election season has worn on and the campaign trail has gotten nastier on all sides.
But early voter turnout is way up in Texas – a state that typically trails the pack in civic engagement. Mark P. Jones, professor and political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, says that the turnout is showing that at least some people are responding well to the negative campaigns.
“What we’re seeing this cycle thus far is that the partisans are really turning out in droves,” he says. “We’ve already exhausted about three-quarters of people who have a voting history in the Republican and Democratic primaries. What we’ll have to see in terms of final turnout numbers is if first-time voters and people who are November voters – if they actually turn out.”
Jones says he’s looked at the voting records and voting lists and found that about two-thirds of people who have turned out to vote so far have a primary voting record, and only one in 10 people have absolutely no voting record at all.
It’s an evolution that we’ve seen each election, Jones says. More and more people are voting early. That includes partisan voters.
“This campaign’s been going on for over a year and it’s been very polarizing, very energizing for the base,” Jones says. “There’s a lot of antipathy for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as a lot of genuine support for these candidates. And that’s pushing these partisans to get out there. They’ve been chomping at the bit for over a year now – now they finally have their chance to make their vote count and they’ve taken full advantage of it.”
Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.