Political consultant (and APN subscriber!) Mark Littlefield was kind enough to share some interesting data on the March primary vote over the last three election cycles. The data demonstrates how dramatically Democratic turnout increased between the 2014 and 2018 midterms.
2014, you’ll recall, was a great year for Republicans, largely due to historically low turnout (lowest midterm participation since 1942).
You’ll see that in two Council districts (6 & 8), there were more votes in the GOP primary than the Democratic primary. In District 10, the wealthy Central/West Austin district, GOP voters made up a respectable 44% of the electorate.
Now look at how the blue/Beto wave changed things in 2018.
The GOP achieved its highest share of the electorate in District 6 (39%). In District 8, its share dropped from 51% to 31%. And this, of course, is only from the primary, which offered a modest preview of the bonkers turnout for the general election in November.
This was not because fewer people were voting Republican. The total number of Republican votes actually increased. What changed was the Democratic turnout, which nearly tripled. To put it another way, Republicans gained 6,000 votes, while Democrats gained 60,000.
The only Council district where a Republican theoretically has a chance next year is in District 6, where Jimmy Flannigan will be up for reelection. But it’s doubtful they’ll have a chance, considering the voting trends.
The GOP’s fortunes may eventually reverse in Austin. Perhaps after demographic trends banish the party of Trump/Abbott/Patrick to the political wilderness, the GOP will eventually reemerge with a message that can compete in cosmopolitan or diverse areas. But I wouldn’t bet on the GOP winning any races in Travis County in the near future, although now that I think about it the Gerald Daugherty race in 2020 will be interesting.
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