Voter Turnout Predicitions for Texas Governor's Race

The Secretary of State has predicted a 36 percent voter turnout, the same percentage as four years ago, for this year's election. More than one million Texans cast ballots early, slightly more than the last governor's race. Houston Public Radio's Ed Mayberry talked with Austin political consultant Bill Miller about the field of gubernatorial candidates.

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Bill Miller has been watching governors races unfold for years, but he says the 2006 race is unique, with its full field of candidates, including independents.

"There's always been an independent streak to Texans, but I don't think we'ver ever seen it as pronounced in a way of being a candidate and raising as much and spending as much money as we've seen this year. It certainly exemplifies the Spirit of Texas, you might say. Because you had a multi-candidate field, it threw everything historically has been a way that people sort of sorted through the the clatter, it's been hard to do. Multiple candidates, multiple messages, and it's out of the ordinary and trying to sort it out and make sense of it, it's been difficult."

More than one million Texans cast ballots early--in person or by mail--but Miller doesn't see that as particularly significant.

"The early voting, which, you know, historically was called absentee voting because, you know, people were allowed to vote early because they weren't going to be home--they'd be out of state or otherwise unavailable to vote--now it's become a three-week Election Day. And that's basically how you have to look at any campaign. And both the parties, and in this case, independents as well, have made a real concerted effort to vote people early so that those hard-core supporters can be available to them on Election Day, when the other half, or so, of the electorate goes to the polls."

More than one candidate has stressed the importance of turnout.

"Turnout is critical for any candidate in any race, but it's, it's even more important or more critical for an independent because they're looking for the voter who's sort of sliding off sort of the party label and may not be the voter that votes regularly or isn't inclined to be toward politics, so the independent candidate has to find the independent voter and get a little bit of Republican and a little bit of Democratic votes, so turnout is critical for the independent candidate." Ed: "How are you going to be spending election eve?" "Well, I've spent it too many to count with candidate who were dying and being reborn based on the precinct counts that are rolling in. I have dinner with my family, and I have other people who are glued to the returns who give it to me. I just sort of stay out. There's too much anxiety and drama for me on Election Night. I get it, I'm one step removed. I have other people living and dying it, and then they report to me."

The polls are open until seven. Ed Mayberry, Houston Public Radio News.

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