October 09, 2014

Battleground Texas gets all enthusiastic about new voters; should it?

The Houston Chronicle notes new voter registrations are up in the largest counties in Texas, and Battleground Texas trumpets that fact.

The story's paywalled, so I'll go to Kuffner, who discusses it more, and take some points out.

Here's the Chron's biggie:
Nearly 150,000 more Texans in these counties are eligible to vote in November’s election between Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis than could vote in the 2012 presidential election, according to tallies released by Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis counties midday Monday, the last day to register. 
The new registrations, however, did not outpace population growth in these counties, which are expected to have grown by 2.6 percent since 2012. But population growth has not always meant growth in voter registration totals: Following the registration push that helped elect Barack Obama in 2008, voter registration in these counties declined by 140,000, a 2.5 percent drop ahead of the 2010 midterm election.

First, midterm voting in general falls off, tis true. On the plus side, to revitalize registration in a midterm, this one, is better than doing it in 2012, and Kuff compares this year to 2010. In Harris County, where BGTX did best, it's about 7 percent. In other East Texas metros, it's around 4 percent, and about 7 percent in El Paso.

So, that part is good.

But, second, this is only in the big counties.

The Valley counties aren't small, though. They're certainly mid-sized, some of them. And, that's where Hispanic turnout among the registered, and not registering, among those eligible, are both the most problematic.

So, BGTX can call me back, metaphorically, when we get some numbers out of Webb County (Laredo), Cameron County (Harlingen, Brownsville), Hidalgo County (McAllen), etc.  

Will Leticia Van de Putte on the ticket help at all? Will a debate down there have helped? I don't know.

So, BGTX can call me back, metaphorically, when we get some numbers out of Webb County (Laredo), Cameron County (Harlingen, Brownsville), Hidalgo County (McAllen), etc.  

Kuff's right that this is a multiyear project. However, in the big counties, county Democratic operatives have already had relatively strong operations. So, again, call me back when the Valley has a jump — and a significant one.

I have been called back. BGTX has modest-moderate increases in both the Valley and also the Golden Triangle.

Again, though, this is just registration, not turnout, as the second of those two links reminds:
It remains to be seen what impact, if any, the increased registration will have on voter turnout on the mid-term cycle, which is historically lower than for presidential ballots. 
Just 24 percent of Jefferson's eligible voters turned out in 2010, compared to 58 percent in 2008, mirroring a mid-term versus presidential trend, according to Secretary of State data. 
Since 2000, presidential ballots have drawn an average of 37,000 more Jefferson County voters to the polls than the mid-term ballots that followed two years later.

Minority voters, especially, may think that Washington is the place to solve all of their problems, as I've blogged before. BGTX certainly has an uphill fight combatting that.

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