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Early voting final report

Early voting was up considerably from the 2006 primaries.

According to figures released Friday by Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, 84,018 total early votes were cast in person for the Harris County primaries — compared with 33,362 in 2006.

A total of 50,250 Republicans went to the polls during the early voting period while 33,771 voted for the Democratic candidates.

More Harris County residents from both parties voted on Friday than during any other day this week.

The figures do not reflect the mail-in ballots.

Here’s the release from Kaufmann’s office, which has more information; here’s the final daily totals by EV location; and here’s the corresponding information from 2006. The Democrats fell just short of equaling the 35,447 total votes from the 2006 primary, while the Republicans did break the 50,000 margin, making my wild guesses from Sunday look pretty good. Adding in mail ballots, the Dems just topped 40,000 while the GOP was over 62,000. As such, I’m revising my final turnout guess up a bit, to 70-80,000 for the Democrats and 100-110,000 for the Republicans. I figure about half of the in-person voters still prefer the traditional Election Day, which is where those numbers come from.

The heavy GOP early-voting turnout may reflect the bruising battle between the incumbent, Gov. Rick Perry, and his lead challenger, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. However, the previously little-known candidate Debra Medina also has waged a spirited campaign to win the hearts of Republican voters.

The comparison to 2002 is an interesting one. As I noted on Sunday, 95,696 Democrats voted in Harris in the 2002 primary, while 92,575 Republicans participated. Republicans will exceed that total this year, while Democrats will fall short of it. But in 2002, there were basically no Republican primaries of interest even though there were four open seats at the state level, while there were two high-profile, competitive Democratic statewide primaries. In 2002, John Cornyn got 77% of the vote for Phil Gramm’s open Senate seat against four people you’ve never heard of. David Dewhurst won over 78% against one no-name for Lite Guv. Greg Abbott inherited the nomination for Cornyn’s former office without any opposition. Only Jerry Patterson, who ran to replace Dewhurst as Land Commish, had anything resembling competition; he ultimately won with 56.5% of the vote against a former State Rep from the Dallas area. The Dems, meanwhile, had zillionaire first-timer Tony Sanchez running against former AG Dan Morales, and unlike this year, the zillionaire first-timer, who also had a ton of establishment support, ran a good enough campaign to win. They also had a multi-candidate race for the Senate that included former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, Houston Congressman Ken Bentsen, and 1996 Senate candidate Victor Morales. The Democratic gubernatorial race this year has largely been a one-candidate affair for reasons we’re all familiar with by now, and none of the other primaries have had much visibility in Harris County. So I can’t say I’m surprised at how it’s played out so far.

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  1. […] assumption is that about 40 to 50% of the in-person votes were cast early. 2008 was an anomaly driven in part […]