It’s time to venture out on that limb that is fraught with danger and offers little support; however, I feel compelled to go there. So here’s my prediction for turnout in the Republican and Democratic primary elections on March 1, 2016.
First, the data for voter turnout in the 15 largest Texas counties provides the basis for the projected turnout. In 2008, nearly 900 thousand Democrats voted early, either in-person or by mail, in the 15 largest counties. That year, of course, featured a hard-fought campaign between then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. In 2012, when President Obama faced no opposition, turnout was only a few more than 222,000. In 2016, Democrats were more numerous as nearly 449,000 voted. On the Republican side, turnout has not varied as much: 303,338 voted in 2008, and 343,497 voted in 2012 in the 15 largest counties. The table shows the turnout for each party in 2008, 2012, and 2016 in the 15 counties as well as the total turnout in the primary elections in 2008 and 2012:
The following table shows the percentage of the total vote provided by the early vote in each party in 2008 and in 2012:
Assuming that the vote in the 15 counties will provide approximately 35 percent of the total vote in the Democratic Party’s primary in 2016, there will be approximately 1,282,454 votes cast in the Democratic primary. Assuming that the vote in the 15 counties will provide approximately 24 percent of the total vote in the Republican primary, there will approximately 2,742,533 votes cast in the Republican primary.
We'll see how close my prediction is on Wednesday, March 2nd.