Texas Democrats have outpaced their Republican counterparts in early voting for the March 6 primary, and it has people like Gov. Greg Abbott sounding worried.
In deep red Texas, voters in the 15 largest counties cast more than 184,000 votes in the Democratic primary and more than 166,000 in the Republican primary, according to tallies of in-person voters through Monday.
"There is a major enthusiasm gap between the parties in this election," said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.
He noted "an old saying in Texas that Democrats have to be dragged to the polls in midterm elections while Republicans drive by every Tuesday" isn't holding true.
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"Democrats are significantly more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans, and the early-vote numbers drive that home," he said.
While Democrats are turning out in greater numbers statewide, Republicans still dominate turnout in some areas, including Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Galveston, Brazoria and Montgomery counties.
Early voting runs through Friday. After that, the last chance for Texans to vote is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, election day.
Early voting turnout is bigger this year than it was during the last midterm election in 2014.
On the seventh day of early voting that year, 241,116 Texans had voted. This year, the turnout was up to 351,467.
With Democrats leading the turnout this year, Republican leaders — many who still believe the GOP will outnumber Democrats in November — are rallying the troops.
"I’ll be blunt: Democrat voter turnout is surging statewide during Early Voting,” according to an email to supporters from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that stressed early voter turnout "should shock every conservative to their core."
This comes, the email said, amid the possibility of a blue wave.
“We had always hoped the liberal wave would never hit Texas, but these Early Voting returns aren’t encouraging so far," Abbott's email stated.
By Tuesday, Abbott had begun promoting Republican get-out-the-vote rallies that he's holding in Sugar Land and McAllen this week.
Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, cautions against getting fooled by the numbers.
"The percentage increase [compared to 2014] in Democratic turnout is significantly greater than Republican turnout, but, in aggregate across the state, more Republicans are turning out to vote than Democrats," he said. "And when the dust clears on March 6, more Texans will have voted in the Republican primary than in the Democratic primary."
He and others attribute the boost in Democratic turnout to everything from more competitive races to backlash against Republican President Donald Trump.
In 2014, more than 135,000 Republicans had voted early through the seventh day of early voting, compared with 105,000 Democrats. In Tarrant County, 19,649 Republicans had voted early, compared with 9,680, Democrats, election results show.
Many wonder if the Democratic turnout will grow enough to generate a larger turnout in the general election.
"This Democratic enthusiasm is likely to spill over into November, although it is still too early to know to what extent," Jones said. "That said, given Donald Trump's residence in the White House, there is good reason to believe that Democratic turnout in November will be greater than in 2014."
But Tarrant County "is still a Republican stronghold with some very competitive primary races across the ballot," said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. "Statewide, Democrats are the opposition party, and the opposition often is able to generate more emotions and support, and Democrats have some competitive primaries across state as well.
"Democrats are being bolstered by immigration debate, DACA and firearms debate," he said. "The general election in November will really tell a more complete story."
Early voting sites
Early voting for the March 6 general election runs through Friday. Voting each remaining day is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tarrant County Elections Center, 2700 Premier St., Fort Worth. This is the main early voting site. Emergency and limited ballots are available there.
All Saints Catholic Church Parish Hall, 200 N.W. 20th St., Fort Worth
Arlington Subcourthouse, 700 E. Abram St.
Asia Times Square, 2615 W. Pioneer Parkway, Grand Prairie
Bedford Public Library, 2424 Forest Ridge Drive
Benbrook Community Center, 228 San Angelo Ave.
B.J. Clark Annex, Room 4, 603 Southeast Parkway, Azle
Bob Duncan Center, 2800 S. Center St., Arlington
Center for Community Service Junior League of Arlington, 4002 W. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington
Colleyville City Hall, 100 Main St.
Crowley Recreation Center, 405 S. Oak St.
Dan Echols Center, 6801 Glenview Dr., North Richland Hills
Diamond Hill Community Center, 1701 NE 36th St., Fort Worth
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school district Administration Building 6, Training Room, 1200 Old Decatur Road, Saginaw
Euless Public Library, 201 N. Ector Drive
Elzie Odom Athletic Center, 1601 NE Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington
Forest Hill Civic and Convention Center, 6901 Wichita St., Forest Hill
The REC of Grapevine, 1175 Municipal Way
Griffin Subcourthouse, 3212 Miller Ave., Fort Worth
Haltom City Northeast Center, 3201 Friendly Lane
Handley Church of Christ, 3029 Handley Dr., Fort Worth
Hurst Recreation Center, 700 Mary Dr.
JPS Health Center Viola M. Pitts/Como, Lower Level, Suite 100, 4701 Bryant Irvin Road N.
Keller Town Hall, 1100 Bear Creek Parkway
Kennedale Community Center, 316 W. Third St.
Longhorn Activity Center, 5350 Basswood Blvd., Fort Worth
Mansfield Subcourthouse, 1100 E. Broad St.
Northeast Courthouse, 645 Grapevine Highway, Hurst
Rosemont Middle School, 1501 W. Seminary Dr., Fort Worth
Sheriff's Office North Patrol Division, 6651 Lake Worth Blvd., Lake Worth
Southlake Town Hall, 1400 Main St.
South Service Center, 1100 SW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington
Southside Community Center, 959 E. Rosedale St., Fort Worth
Southwest Community Center, 6300 Welch Ave.
Tarrant County College Southeast Campus, EMB- C Portable Building, 2100 Southeast Parkway, Arlington
Tarrant County Plaza Building, 201 Burnett St.
Villages of Woodland Springs Amenity Center, 12209 Timberland Blvd., Fort Worth
White Settlement Public Library, 8215 White Settlement Road
Worth Heights Community Center, 3551 New York Ave., Fort Worth
Several temporary early voting sites have special days and hours. They are:
▪ 7 a.m.-7 p.m. through March 1: Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, Student Center NSTU 1506, 828 Harwood Road, Hurst; Northwest Campus, WSTU 1305, 4801 Marine Creek Parkway, Fort Worth; South Campus, Student Center SSTU 1112, 5301 Campus Drive, Fort Worth.
▪ 7 a.m.-7 p.m. through March 1: UTA, Maverick Activities Center, 500 W. Nedderman Drive, Arlington; TCU, Brown-Lupton University Union, 2901 Stadium Drive.