Surge in Early Voting Could Be Good Sign for Democrats — or Energize Republicans

Surge in Early Voting Could Be Good Sign for Democrats — or Energize Republicans
Erik (HASH) Hersman via Flickr creative commons
A record rush of first-day early voting in Bexar County may be a positive for Democrats, who frequently have trouble delivering people to the polls, experts said.

But they question whether that energy can be sustained — and whether the early turnout numbers will light a fire under Republicans.

"A really good turnout would seem to help Democrats," said David Crockett, a political science professor at Trinity University. "But that could also have a blowback effect of energizing Republicans if they worry some races will be closer than they thought."

The final count for Bexar County at the end of Monday was 34,021 voters. That blows past earlier midterm records and nearly matches the previous high of 35,431, set during the 2016 presidential election.

Texas cities, both large and small, saw similar activity yesterday.

What's more, voter registration exploded ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm, reaching a record 15.8 million, or 4 percent higher than during the March state primary.

President Trump has been a galvanizing force on both sides of the partisan divide, said Arturo Vega, a political science professor at St. Mary's University However, Beto O'Rourke's surprising senate campaign and the fire union's three controversial city charter amendments also could be driving local turnout.

"Unless you have survey data or exit polls, it's hard to know which of those factors you've got going on — my suspicion's a combination of the three," he said.

Nevertheless, Trinity's Crockett cautioned against reading too much into the early enthusiasm. It may not last through the entire early voting period, which extends through November 2.

"If you're an optimist, (yesterday's numbers) would suggest that we're going to see really high turnout on through the election," he said. "But, if you're a skeptic like me, you may think the numbers will drop off. I'd want to track this through the first week."

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