As of Wednesday, more than 3,695,100 Texans have voted in the counties where 78 percent of registered voters in the state live, according to the Texas Tribune. The turnout has surpassed the total votes cast in those counties, which include Travis County, during the entire early voting period for the 2014 midterm election.
The increase in voter turnout fits with the results of a recent poll conducted by the Tribune and UT’s Texas Politics Project. The poll found that 72 percent of the state’s registered voters said they were either “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming election, and 76 percent of registered voters said they were “absolutely certain to vote.”
A combination of factors contribute to the increased interest in voting, said Joshua Blank, manager of polling and research at the UT Texas Politics Project.
“Our national political environment, a competitive top-of-the-ticket statewide race, and many more competitive local elections … are increasing the salience of this election for (voters) beyond what is normally a sleepy affair in Texas,” Blank said.
But expressing enthusiasm about voting and actually voting are two different things because people tend to overstate their likelihood to vote, Blank said.
“People want to look like good citizens,” Blank said. “It’s inevitable that they’ll overstate their rate of past participation and their likelihood of future participation.”
Twelve percent of respondents said they were either “not too much” or “not at all” enthusiastic about voting this year. More than half of respondents said they has been contacted by a political campaign during election season, which Blank said also influences voter enthusiasm.
The poll surveyed 1,200 registered voters and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points, according to the Texas Tribune.
“There’s no obvious enthusiasm gap by party,” Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project, told the Texas Tribune. “Men are more enthusiastic than women, and whites are more enthusiastic than black and Hispanic voters.”
Maya Patel, interim president of TX Votes, said she has spent months registering students to vote. She said she’s not surprised by the increase in voter enthusiasm since the last midterm election in 2014.
“People are fired up about this election,” chemistry junior Patel said. “They’re either very upset about something or (are) happy and want to maintain the way things are. One way or the other, people are really passionate, and hopefully that will translate to an increase in voter turnout.”