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Early runoff voting in perspective

Here are four numbers for your consideration:

Year Total votes =================== 2006 13,726 2008 9,670 2010 15,225 2012 14,778

The first three numbers are the complete final turnout figures for the last three Democratic primary runoffs in Harris County. The fourth number is the turnout for early voting through four days for this year’s Democratic primary runoff. We still have today’s early voting, plus Runoff Day on Tuesday, and any straggling absentee ballots that make it to the County Clerk between today and Tuesday. I’m posting these numbers (which you can see for yourself here, here, here, and here) because I’ve seen a fair amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the supposedly abysmal level of turnout for this runoff. I’m not going to claim that the turnout so far has been anything to write home about, nor will I claim that it’s anything but puny compared to the GOP total. What I am saying is that it’s far from historically abysmal, and in fact when you consider the unusual date, the lack of funding for the Senate race (the sole statewide race), the lack of countywide races, and the disproportionately small amount of media attention being paid to anything but the Senate GOP runoff, it ain’t too shabby. I’d certainly like to see more Dems do their duty, and if you haven’t cast your ballot yet for Paul Sadler and Erica Lee, I urge you to do so today or Tuesday. But don’t panic, and don’t despair. There’s no need for either.

UPDATE: As there were no statewide Democratic primary runoffs in 2010, I had forgotten there were Harris County countywide runoffs that year. I have added in those numbers to complete the picture. My apologies for the oversight.

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2 Comments

  1. PDiddie says:

    Is it possible to break out the previous years’ partisan distribution, as the county does now?

    It seems to me that the Republicans account for the majority of increased turnout. In any event I defer to your numerical wisdom.

  2. PDiddie – All the numbers I printed here are for Democratic primaries only. The County Clerk does separate totals from each primary, which you can see in that third link above. My intent wasn’t to compare D to R totals – the Rs are way, way ahead of us, not surprising considering the races they have on tap – but to compare D to D to put some context on this year’s totals. Basically, primary runoff turnout is lousy unless there’s a very hot race.

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