Texas Midterms’ Huge Turnout, Hot Senate Race And Fear Tactics Stoke Buzz, Doubts

AUSTIN — After unprecedented candidate spending and voter interest, Texas' midterm elections thunder to a close on Tuesday.

The 2018 results could be a harbinger of a national political shift and offer a whiff of change coming in Texas' beet-red voting patterns and conservative governance. Or not.

Some key races may be close, said Texas Christian University political scientist James Riddlesperger.

"Who has any idea how they're going to turn out," he said of the most competitive races. "We're going to be up late.”

Both major political parties have resorted to "fear tactics" to drive turnout by their most passionate followers, said Southern Methodist University professor of communication studies Rita Kirk.

"That would include [messages saying] everything from 'your Medicare is going to be ripped away' to 'the folks coming in the caravan are going to murder people and rape your children' and all of that," Kirk said. "So the fear tactics are really interesting but really hurt us in many ways as a body politic. ... They don't lead us to reasonable debate and reasonable conclusions."

TCU's Riddlesperger said he's most closely watching Democratic El Paso congressman Beto O'Rourke's bid to oust GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, state Attorney General Ken Paxton's race against Democrat Justin Nelson and a hand full of races for U.S. House, Texas Senate and Texas House — many of them in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Polls, which open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m., stretch across two time zones — Central Standard Time in most of the state but also Mountain Standard Time in O'Rourke's hometown of El Paso.

In 12 days of early voting, which ended Saturday, more than 4.1 million Texans cast ballots in the 15 most populous counties.

That compared with nearly 4.5 million early votes in the 15 biggest counties in the 2016 presidential election. It more than doubled the number of early ballots cast early in those counties cast in the past two midterms, 2014 and 2010. In each cycle, just more than 1.7 million Texans voted early in the 15 most populous counties.

How many come out on Election Day is anyone's guess, said TCU's Riddlesperger.

"Does that [early voting] mark the fact that the voters were motivated, so they all went and voted early? Or is it just a precursor to another large turnout tomorrow," Riddlesperger said.

SMU's Kirk said she wonders how much of the increase in early-vote turnout is attributable to "shaming mailers" — direct mail pieces designed to embarrass a voter by listing his or her recent lack of participation in elections. Both sides have used them, she said.

"It makes people angry, but it also works," Kirk said.

On Monday, GOP numbers cruncher Derek Ryan issued a report that projects stout turnout on Election Day — which with the early vote would create a record-smashing total turnout for the midterm of 2018.

"I am leaning towards over 8 million people voting (Election Day + early combined)," Ryan, founder of Austin-based Ryan Data & Research, a Republican consulting firm, wrote in an email.

"That would be 52.2 percent turnout, which would be higher than any previous mid-term, but just short of presidential election percentages," he said.

Ryan said he based his projection on "how the top 15 counties voted during early voting, what their likely Election Day numbers will look like, and then assumes that these counties will make up 65 percent of all votes cast in the election."

The Texas Secretary of State’s office does not release early vote totals for less populated counties until late Tuesday, when all vote results are published.

Among the key races to watch:

Source : https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2018-elections/2018/11/06/texas-midterms-huge-turnout-hot-senate-race-fear-tactics-stoke-buzz-doubts

Texas midterms’ huge turnout, hot Senate race and fear tactics stoke buzz, doubts
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