Early voting data in Fort Bend special election favors Republicans

Tuesday is election day in a runoff for a Texas State House seat near Houston. Many Democrats and Republicans believe the outcome could be an indicator for general elections in the fall, when voters will determine which party controls the state house.

The District 28 race pits Democrat Eliz Markowitz against Republican Gary Gates. The special election comes after incumbent Republican John Zerwas stepped down to take a position with the University of Texas system.

The district is in Fort Bend County, which is a Republican stronghold. But population growth is changing demographics in the district, giving Democrats hope to possibly take the seat.

The party has increased voter outreach efforts in District 28. Markowitz also received high-profile help from Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro, with both former presidential candidates holding block-walking events for her campaign.

But that may not be enough to overcome the Republican advantage in the district. Scott Braddock, who covers Texas politics for the Quorum Report, says early voting data favors Gary Gates. The data does not show who people voted for in this election, but it does show how they voted in previous elections.

Braddock said the numbers show about half of early voters had previously voted in Republican primaries, compared with about a third with a history of voting in Democratic primaries.

“The Democrats would have to make up a lot of votes among those who had no history to be able to make this a real race,” Braddock said.

Braddock said although Republicans have a historical numbers advantage in the district, Democrats are touting their voter registration efforts. It’s not clear how that will affect the result on election day.

“There are a lot of first time voters and we’re seeing a lot of enthusiasm out there,” Braddock said. “The Democrats have the enthusiasm, but the Republicans just have the numbers.”

Besides the battle for the Texas House seat in Fort Bend County, Braddock said other state elections have been relatively quiet in regards to campaign spending.

“When you look at the Republican primaries, that’s usually where the action is in Texas and not so much this year,” Braddock said. “Looks like more of those dollars are aimed toward November and these efforts by Democrats to try to make up some more ground in the state.”

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