Early voting in the March 6 primary elections ended Friday, and both Republicans and Democrats have seen higher turnout in Denton County this year than in previous gubernatorial election years.
Republicans had a combined total of 27,985 votes in early voting and by mail. That number is higher than any gubernatorial election year in the past 12 years at least. In the 2014 primary, only 22,569 voted early and by mail. Only in the 2016 presidential primary did the Republicans turn out higher number of early and mail voters with 46,794.
Democrats had 15,031 votes in early and mail voting. In 2014, the party only had 4,034 votes in early and mail voting. The only time in recent history where the Democratic Party had more participation in a primary was 2008, when Texas was in play for the Democratic presidential nomination. That was also the only year that Denton County Democrats pulled in more primary votes than the Republicans did.
In most years for Denton County, Democrats take in only 10-25 percent of the total primary votes. So far in 2018, that number is almost 35 percent.
These numbers are reflected in statewide turnout as well. GOP voting is up 16 percent from this point last year, and Democratic turnout has more than doubled.
But for various reasons, primary turnout is not strongly correlated with success in the general election. Primary elections have only a fraction of the voters who turn out for general elections — the combined number of voters who participated in the 2016 primaries made up just over 20 percent of those who voted in the general election that year.
In Texas, voters can switch parties and vote in the primary of their choice for strategic reasons. Many Democratic voters in Texas will vote in the Republican primary when they believe they’ll have more influence there. It was believed that some Republicans voted in the 2008 Democratic primary to try to affect the presidential nomination.
Primary election day is Tuesday, March 6. Stay tuned to The Lewisville Texan Journal for results shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday.