For some reason, the Lone Star State and its 38 Electoral College votes is considered to be a battleground—never mind that neither Vice President Joe Biden, nor his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, have made one visit to Texas this year. President Donald Trump leads in Texas by 4.4%, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.
Of course, if Biden does manage to win in Texas, it’s all over for President Trump. An indication of this upset would be seen in the state’s early voting totals. As of today, the Texas Secretary of State’s office has recorded three days of early voting totals from most counties, with the tally including in-person votes and mail-in ballots.
Comparing 11 of the 15 counties with the highest number of registered voters (four of the counties reported incomplete results from yesterday) to the same 11 counties four years ago after three days of early voting shows that there is no surge in voting, contrary to boosters of the blue state Texas narrative. Rather, voters have shifted their voting from in-person to mail-in.
The 11 large counties, including Harris, home to Houston, show that the number of registered voters is up 13% since 2016, though final registration numbers will be reported today sometime Friday. Texas population has grown 7.3% since 2016.
In person turnout is up 15% as a raw number and only 1.57% as a share of registered voters— 12.06% in 2020 compared to 11.87% in 2016.
Voting by mail is where there’s a large difference with a 26% raw increase in ballots received and an 11.08% increase in relative turnout as a share of registered voters—2.55% in 2020 vs. 2.30% in 2016. But the first day of early voting is when most of the mail-in ballots sent out and returned early are processed. This means that mail-in totals are always the highest on day one.
Overall early voting—in-person and by mail—totals 14.61% of registered voters in 2020 vs. 14.17% in 2016, a 3.11% increase in relative turnout of registered voters. Overall, this translates into 187,575 more early votes by mail and in-person on day three for these 11 large counties.
Bottom line, it’s not an unexpected result and turnout isn’t surging in Texas compared to 2016.
How does Texas compare to other contested states and polling expectations? Over at the American Spectator, David Catron notes that, “…mail-in and early voting data from key battleground states conflict with the Democratic narrative and Biden’s purported lead in the polls.”
In the Washington Examiner, Michael Lee reports,
In Michigan as of Wednesday, just over 1 million ballots have been returned, 40% from registered Democrats, with the same from registered Republicans. In Wisconsin, 40% of the 711,855 returned ballots have been from Democrats, while 38% have come from Republicans. The GOP actually leads in Ohio, with 45% of 475,259 early ballot returns coming from Republicans, compared to 43% from registered Democrats…
While Texas doesn’t feature party registration for voters as do most other states, after two days of early voting Texas Republican consultant Derek Ryan found that 92% of everyone who voted on the first day had voted in past Texas election cycles. Further, that about 38% of first day ballots were by voters who participated in the Democratic primary compared to 32% for Republicans. Explaining the apparent edge for Democrats, Ryan said, “The first day of early voting is dominated by mail-in ballots and we know that Democrats have gone all-in on mail-in voting. After the first day, mail-in ballots will decline relative to early in-person voting.”
Because of the strong Democrat push for mail-in ballots, the share of votes by mail in Texas will likely hit 15% or more in the 2020 General Election. In 2016, mail-in ballots were 5% of the total. The question for Texas and the nation is two-fold: which way will these mailed ballots break, and, if they break for Biden, will there be enough of them to overcome what will likely be a substantial in-person vote margin for Trump.