Record turnout so far, but who's voting?

October 26, 2010 6:31:44 PM PDT
There's been a record turnout so far in early voting, and the numbers are giving us a good idea about who is turning out to the polls. More Harris County voters are showing up early than ever before in a non-presidential election; almost twice as many as in 2006. It sounds impressive, but it got us wondering. Just what's going on? Who's voting and who isn't and is the new voter excitement we saw in 2008 extending to this year?

We're setting a record, but it doesn't mean we're all of a sudden more involved in our democracy. We're just changing the way we do this.

"It's big," said KTRK political analyst Dr. Richard Murray. "We'll have more than 400,000 votes cast early and maybe 200,000 on Election Day."

Dr. Murray's analysis shows white suburban voters are showing up in larger numbers than the last election for governor; young African-American voters not as much.

"Younger voters for Obama, African-American voters, they're always difficult to turn out in a midterm election," he said. "It's one of the reasons the Democrats are in trouble."

Nowhere is the evaporation of the Obama voter more evident than here at Townwood Park in southwest Houston. In 2008 with Obama on the ballot, 11,311 voters had voted early by today. This year, 1191; an 89 percent drop.

"I know I voted for Barack Obama," said 22-year-old Harris County voter Derek Chopp.

Chopp lives near Townwood Park and hasn't early voted.

"I might not vote at all," he said.

This year, he doesn't even know who's on the ballot.

"No sir, I don't even know whats on the ballot," he said.

"We still have how many days of campaiging?" asked State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D) of Houston.

Coleman says it's not over yet, but it's not a surprising trend.

"Those were people who never voted in gubernatorial elections anway," he said. "So why would anyone expect they would vote now?"

So when you really look at this record setting early vote, don't get too carried away that it's record setting interest.

"If we go out and vote, things will change if we go out and vote for the right person," said Chopp.

"But if you stay home?" we asked.

"No change will happen," he said.

Presidential elections are always huge turnouts, much larger than off years. So some dropoff is expected. Where it happens and why will be the story fully written in a week on Election Day.

Check out where you can cast your ballot early


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