HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Friday marked the last day to vote early, and the polls have officially closed until Election Day. Data from the Secretary of State's office doesn't reveal how people voted in the midterm run-up, but it details who turned out.
Turnout across the Greater Houston area is down when compared to what it was at this same point during the 2018 midterm election. Those who didn't show up early this time are part of crucial voter blocks democrats typically rely upon.
The democratic challenger, Beto O'Rourke, made two stops in Houston on Friday in an effort to turn out young voters at The University of Houston and Texas Southern University.
"We're seeing a spike in voter performance at every location we stop at and rally at and thank them for doing their part to make sure we will win and pull through," O'Rourke said.
That strategy fell short during the early voting period in Harris County. Turnout among young voters fell by 35%, and the black vote fell by 25% compared to 2018.
Michael Adams, Ph.D., is a professor of political science at Texas Southern University. "I think the difference in the outcome of this election will depend on which party has the best infrastructure in terms of turning out the vote," Adams said.
Democrats are more likely to vote early, while republicans typically vote on Election Day. That's why data from the Secretary of State's office indicate enthusiasm for democratic candidates is low. Early voter turnout was down between 10% and 7% across the Greater Houston area.
Adams says messaging is the issue.
Running through his talking points, O'Rourke said, "A grid that doesn't work, the most extreme abortion ban in America, gun violence is the leading cause of death for children and teenagers," Beto said.
"They thought they would get a lot traction out of that, but that doesn't seem to be the case," Adams said.
Governor Greg Abbott took his message to Witchita Falls on Friday. There, he encouraged his supporters to vote early in a top-of-the-ticket race that will be decided by whose supporters show up and whose stay home.
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