Saturday, March 01, 2008

Texas Early Voting Ends With A Democratic Turnout Rout

I’ve been keeping a tally on my original piece that I posted on the day I showed up for Early Voting here in Fort bend County, on the second day.

I have two important tips on early voting: 1) Never show up to early vote on the first day. They are just starting up and getting the cobwebs swept off the voting machines, and they need a day to get into the rhythm. 2) Never show up to early vote on the last day. Yes, they have a smoothly oiled machine in place now, but now you have to contend with lines that, while looking reasonable compared to Election Day lines, are still pretty long.

Here are the Fort Bend County early voting stats that I kept adding to for the past 11 days:

Democrats on Tuesday 2/19: 1710
Democrats on Wednesday 2/20: 1515
Democrats on Thursday 2/21: 1827
Democrats on Friday 2/22: 2511
Democrats on Saturday 2/23: 4139
Democrats on Sunday 2/24: 1644
Democrats on Monday 2/25: 2786
Democrats on Tuesday 2/26: 3067
Democrats on Wednesday 2/27: 3319
Democrats on Thursday 2/28: 4421
Democrats on Friday 2/29: 7448

Total Democrats voting in 2008 primary: 34,387
% total Democratic turnout increase over 2004 presidential primary 1634%
Democrat to Republican ratio: 2.40: 1

Did you see that second-to-last statistic? More than 16 times as many people came out to early voting in the Democratic primary than came out for the early voting in the last presidential primary in 2004.

But wait, there’s more. The 2004 Democratic primary drew a total of 10,689 voters to the polls that year. This is exceeded by the 2008 Early Vote alone, by over 300% (321.7% to be exact).

These voting trends are simply following what has become a statewide phenomenon. Not only are record numbers of “November voters” showing up to vote in the primary, but they outnumber Republican voters by anywhere between 2 to 1 and 4 to 1. Even in heavily Republican counties.

Both the Clinton and Obama Democratic campaigns are taking credit for the huge numbers of early voters. Rally goers were being told by both candidates to go and vote early to avoid long lines.

Well, OK, some of that has to be crossover voting. Some of it is from Independents and Republicans who are simply fed up with their party or uninspired by the candidates running for office. Then there are people like the Republicans for Obama organization who see Obama as the clear choice between Democrat and Republican candidates. And then some of it is most definitely Anti-Hillary Clinton crossover voting. The logic for this given to me is that they don’t want to have a McCain/Clinton election in November, where there is a risk of another Clinton presidency. These are Republicans who have resigned themselves to a Democratic victory in the fall, and simply don’t want that Democrat to be Clinton.

But I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, only if this election is a real squeaker will these latter crossover votes really count for anything. In New York, which has a closed primary, 1,891,000 Democratic voters registered their votes in 2008 as opposed to 720,000 in the 2004 presidential primary. So in that closed primary, where only registered Democrats vote, 2008 voter turnout was 260% of what it was in 2004. Delaware had a 285% voter turnout jump between their 2004 and 2008 primaries. Both of these states are “Super Tuesday” states where the stakes were high, certainly, but not as high as they are now here in Texas.

So the question is, will we be able to maintain this 1600% jump in Democratic primary voters on March 4th? I actually doubt it. Mainly because if you do the numbers, that is a total that exceeds the registered voters in Fort Bend County.

I know, that is not unheard of here in wild and wooly Texas, where hundreds of registered voters still vote in Alpine County, despite the fact that they are dead.

Hey you know? It just hit me why we have precinct conventions here in Texas (unless Hillary Clinton’s campaign succeeds in putting a stop to them in court). Dead people have a little trouble making it to precinct conventions, let alone signing their names.

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