New voter registration figures in Texas show potential for Democrats trying to eke out a statewide win.
More than 2.6 million people have registered to vote in Texas since Election Day in 2016, tweeted Tom Bonier, the CEO of political data firm TargetSmart.
Of those newly registered voters, 1.6 million– almost two-thirds– are people of color and/or under the age of 25, Bonier said.
The growth of registered young voters and voters of color is crucial to Texas Democrats since both demographics represent a growing share of the party’s base in the state. Beyond registering, actually voting is all that matters, however, in election outcomes.
In 2018, exit polls show 71 percent of Texans age 18-29 voted for Beto O’Rourke over Sen. Ted Cruz. The same exit polls show voters of color overwhelmingly leaned Democratic with 89 percent of Black voters and 64 percent of Latino voters casting a ballot for O’Rourke.
In recent elections, both young voters and voters of color have seen impressive increases in turnout. In the 2018 midterm, turnout among Texas voters under the age of 30 tripled compared to 2014, while turnout among Black, Asian, and Latino voters also saw increases. Latinos in particular, which make up almost a third of the eligible voters in the state, saw 830,000 more Texas Latinos voting in 2018 than 2014. By comparison, Trump won Texas by 800,000 votes in 2016.
The race for new voters
Both Democrats and Republicans have been working around the clock to register new voters.
Most recently, presidential hopeful and New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg announced he would be spending between $15 to $20 million on voter registration drives across the country, including Texas.
In September, former Texas GOP chair and current Cornyn campaign adviser Steve Munisteri estimated 11 million voters would turn out in 2020. In an oft-quoted prediction by Democrats and Republicans alike, Munisteri said whichever party received 5.5 million votes first would win the state in 2020.
And while the energy surrounding Texas’ newest wave of voters is promising, it won’t mean much without resolving some of the issues that plagued the last election’s record turnout. “The 2018 Texas midterm election was characterized by re-energized civic engagement without the infrastructure to meet it,” noted the Texas Civil Rights Project in a report. “Our data indicates that election administration failures reported to our Coalition affected, at a minimum, 277,628 voters —a number higher than the margin of victory in Texas’ closely watched Senate race.”
Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org