The Austin Chronicle

Simultaneous Votegasm

By Mike Clark-Madison, October 30, 2018, 2:00pm, Newsdesk

After a full week of early voting, the local and statewide patterns are clear: slightly lower than 2016, but way beyond any previous midterm. We’ll have another stampede of early birds at week’s end, and then we’ll see if this votegasm signifies higher total turnout or is just cannibalizing the Election Day vote, as happened in 2008 and 2016.

In Travis County, turnout through Sunday was 23.5%, compared to 26.1% for the same period in 2016 and 18.6% for the whole EV window in 2014. (Remember, 2014 was kind of a big-deal election in Austin, with dozens of candidates for all 11 City Council seats, plus Wendy Davis.) With the caveat that anyone can vote anywhere (although they don’t really), highest turnout so far is at the Randalls on Brodie and on Braker, followed by UT Flawn Academic Center, ACC Highland, and the Ben Hur Shrine. However, none of those sites (except for Flawn) have yet beaten their 2014 total turnout – compared to, for example, Carver Library, which has already seen four times as many voters as four years ago.

All the largest Texas counties, red as well as blue, were running about 3% behind their 2016 EV pace as of Sunday, and all have topped their 2014 totals. Among the top 30 counties, turnout percentage is highest in Collin, Williamson, Travis, Comal, Brazoria, and Fort Bend (in that order) and lowest in Webb, Cameron, Bell, Nueces, and El Paso (boo!). Average turnout in the bluest 2016 counties (6.7 million registered voters) is 18.8%, in the reddest counties (3.2 million RVs) it’s 23.4%, and in the purple counties (2.4 million RVs) it’s 23.7%. The latter are the counties that went for or against Trump by less than 10 points – his statewide win was 9 points – including both Williamson and Hays.

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