It appears that the hysteria ginned up by Democrats and their media allies against Donald Trump is having its intended effect. It has terrified Democratic voters to the point that a blue tide threatens to overwhelm the GOP this November.
Early voting in Texas in advance of the Tuesday Democratic primary offers an ominous peek at what could be in store for the GOP in the midterm elections.
According to the Texas secretary of state’s website — which tracks only the 15 counties with the most registered voters — 161,607 people voted in the Democratic primary in 2014 during the first 10 days of early voting. This year, 310,275 people voted in the Democratic primary in the same span — a 92 percent increase. Polls closed Friday at 7 p.m., with Election Day on Tuesday.
On the GOP side, 273,293 people had voted in the Republican primary as of Thursday. That’s still an 18 percent increase from 2014, when 231,530 voted in the Republican primary during the first 10 days of early voting.
Democrats may hold a 36,982 vote lead, but that doesn’t mean all of those voters are Democrats. Since Texas has semi-open primaries, voters can choose which party’s primary to vote in. (There is a caveat to choosing: In a runoff, voters must stick with the same party.)
Political experts attribute much of Texas’ increased voter turnout as a reaction to the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, as well as the state’s eight open congressional seats.
That 18% increase in GOP early voting would be outstanding — except the Democrats nearly doubled their turnout from 2014. History has shown that the party out of power is generally more energized at the midterm point of a president’s first term and that appears to be holding true in Texas. It’s also true that Texas Democrats (and those who want to vote in the Democratic primary) are keen on electing candidates capable of beating Republicans in November.
Harold Clarke, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, said one reason Democratic primary voting numbers are up is because people think Democrats have a reasonable chance of winning.
“One of the things we know is that competition stirs turnout, and it looks now that here in Texas, perhaps especially for the first time in a long time, winning the Democratic primary is really a prize worth having because you have a real shot at the general election,” Clarke said. “That perception is fairly widespread both among potential candidates as well as Democratic voters.”
Dallas County’s traditionally strong Democratic base appeared to respond to that competition, with turnout increasing 89 percent from 2014. Republican turnout decreased 6 percent.
The jump in Collin County, which votes for more conservative candidates, is even greater — the number of Democratic primary voters increased 235 percent from 2014, while Republican voters increased by 47 percent.
Voters having to endure daily Trump bashing from every corner of American society is having an effect. Democrats have branded Trump an authoritarian, racist, sexist, dangerous extremist who must be “resisted” at every turn. This not only scares Democrats into voting in greater numbers, but it depresses GOP turnout at the same time.
That’s a recipe for disaster unless Republicans can counter with their own messaging, reminding voters what putting the Democrats in power really means.