As election day nears, many in the Harris County Republican Party are getting very nervous about a potential sweep by Democrats. They have good reason to worry but at this point, there isn’t much that can be done other than what the party is doing: focusing on a boots on the ground GOTV effort. I think we should wait until after the election results come in to start the autopsy on the HCRP but others don’t, as evidenced in the current edition of the Red, White and Blue show with former HCRP Chair Gary Polland, David Jones and former HCRP Chair Jared Woodfill.
Like I said, I think that it is a bit early to do the autopsy and I don’t think that anyone can tell you definitively that the Democrats are going to sweep. That said, there are a number of disturbing reports out.
A Houston Chronicle report by Rebecca Elliott and Matt Dempsey claims that Democrats are winning the turnout war in this record breaking early voting season.
Roughly 36 percent of those voters participated in at least one of the last three Democratic presidential primaries, a Houston Chronicle analysis of voter history shows, while 32 percent voted in at least one of the last three Republican presidential primaries. Another 19 percent only had general election voting history, and 14 percent had no Harris County voting history in recent presidential election years.
And the Harris County Democratic Party is painting an even bleaker picture for Harris County Republicans.
Updated Harris County Early Voting and Mail Ballot Results for November 1
So far 626,627 people early voted and 86,456 people have turned in a mail ballot! Today’s turnout was 72,580.
There is a lag in getting the data loaded into VAN. VAN currently has data on 576,983 early voters and on 80,820 mail voters. Assuming that people who have a 2016 DNC Dem Party Support v2 score of over 50% is a likely Democrat and those with a score below 50% is a likely Republican, here is how the voting looks in Harris County so far:
VAN Early Total: 576,983
Likely Democrat: 318,855 (55.26%)
Likely Republican: 258,128 (44.74%)
VAN Mail Total: 80,829
Likely Democrat: 44,635 (55.23%)
Likely Republican: 36,185 (44.77%)
Republican data analyst Derek Ryan paints a somewhat better picture for the HCRP. Ryan is gathering daily voting totals from twenty Texas counties and, with the help of the Abbott campaign and the Texas Republican Party, is analyzing the history of the voters. His numbers suggest that Harris County Republicans are turning out in higher numbers than the Democrats.
|Harris County Early Voting Turnout thru November 1st|
While Mr. Ryan’s analysis is certainly paints a better picture for Republicans, his data also shows that Harris County Republicans are lagging in terms of the statewide turnout by 3 percentage points. And that due to the sheer size of the vote in Harris County, the difference is greater than that because the Harris County numbers will are pulling down the statewide average for Republicans. If you view Ryan’s county by county chart, you’ll see that the Republican turnout champs thus far are Smith, Lubbock, Montgomery and North Texas.
The larger question going into the final days of the election is this: where are Republicans going to get more voters, both statewide and in Harris County? Using Ryan’s data, I put this graphic together of the early vote by age, through the first nine days.
If you watch the gif, you’ll see the charts change day by day. The first few days were dominated by older voters. As the days progress, the chart shows that the percentage of younger voters is increasing. For years, the Republicans in Texas have relied on their traditional voters and haven’t focused on expanding their pool of voters.
This is particularly true in Harris County, especially under Chairman Paul Simpson. Simpson has focused totally on building a solid organization and a GOTV campaign and very little effort has been spent on messaging or expanding the party. Since this will be the first campaign that his policies are in full effect for, it will be very interesting to see if his strategy works. Republicans win, he gets all the glory. Republicans get swept, well, you know the drill.
I don’t really understand the party’s slogan, Harris County Works but I’ve been told that it tests well in focus groups. They no longer have a HarrisCountyWorks.com website, forwarding that domain to their RepublicanJudges.com site. It seems that the DA, Sheriff, County Attorney and Tax Assessor-Collector have been left out intentionally, which is puzzling since they are the ones that actually make the county work.
But what do I know? Like I said, there will be plenty of time for an autopsy after the election, win or lose. The bottom line at this point is that no one knows what is going to happen, so if you believe in Simpson’s GOTV plan, then you better get out there and get to work.