Texas voters are famous for staying home. Now they are turning out — to vote for Democrats.
The first midterm primary ballots are come in, and Democratic early voters in Texas have walloped the GOP in a historic fashion.
As CNN political analyst David Wright notes, the Texas Secretary of State records an early vote lead of 45,000 ballots for Democrats. This is on track to be the largest Democratic turnout since the 2008 presidential primary. It will also be the first time Democratic early turnout exceeded that of Republicans in the Lone Star State since the blue wave midterm of 2006 — and by a larger margin.
As of last week, Texas Democratic turnout had doubled over that of the 2014 primaries, and was even running ahead of 2016 presidential primary turnout.
These numbers should terrify Republicans, as they signal an uprising of grassroots Democratic voter enthusiasm in a state where Republicans mainly hold power thanks to low voter turnout, especially among traditionally underrepresented groups.
There have long been signs Texas is in the middle of a political shift. Trump’s 2016 margin in the state was less than ten points, and lower than that of Iowa.
Additionally, Democrats have been stepping up to run for office at every level in historic numbers, including 36 women running for Congress. And Ted Cruz’s Senate challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, is outraising him.
Republicans have noticed. Some GOP officials around the state have resorted to desperate measures, with the Dallas County Republican Party suing to disqualify Democratic candidates.
Even the Trump administration itself was keeping an eye on the situation, with Mike Pence’s now-defunct “voter fraud” commission trying to organize Texas other data to investigate Hispanic voters.
What is now happening in Texas reflects a growing voter enthusiasm across the country to get involved in the midterms. It is the first sign that public anger against Trump will gave far-reaching consequences at the ballot box.