Houston Matters

First Day of Early Voting Could Signal Higher Turnout in Harris County Than 2014 Midterms

Besides the Cruz–O’Rourke contest, political expert Bob Stein thinks the races for the U.S. House of Representatives and county level contests can motivate the electorate

With Harris County setting a new record for voter turnout on the first day of early voting during a midterm election, a political expert told Houston Matters Tuesday he thinks the turnout will be higher in the county than it was for the 2014 midterms.

“When we start getting high voter turnout on the first day of early voting, it tells you the voters think this is gonna be a high turnout election,” said Bob Stein, a Political Science professor and elections expert at Rice University.

Given the fact there are 2.2 million registered voters in Harris County and that the countywide turnout in the 2014 midterms was about 670,000 voters, Stein is looking “at well over 750,000” for this year’s election.

People line up to vote at the Harris County Public Library North Channel Branch, in the Channelview area, on October 22, 2018

Stein said a high turnout in Harris County could favor Democrats, given that the majority of the county has voted Democrat in the last three consecutive presidential elections (2008, 2012 and 2016).

At the same time, Republicans traditionally vote more than Democrats in midterm elections, but Stein noted that “what you’re beginning to see, particularly in the Hispanic community, is a higher voter turnout and that’s offset whatever turnout advantage the Republicans have had.”

Stein thinks that, besides the Ted Cruz–Beto O’Rourke contest, there are other races that can motivate the electorate, such as those for the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as –at the county level— the race for Precinct 2 between Commissioner Jack Morman and former Houston City Councilman and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

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