Early primary voting has started in Texas and after just a couple of days, interesting results are filtering in. Reports I have seen are showing a large Republican turnout, easily exceeding the 2006 off year elections and matching the early vote totals in the presidential year of 2008. This may well indicate that the hyperactive Texas Tea Party folks are voting Republican. Many first time Republican primary candidates favored by Tea Party activists are running against long term incumbents. Even in Democrat friendly San Antonio, Republican early voting surged the first day (4 times the 2006 vote), as reported by Gilbert Garcia, My SA News:
A competitive Republican gubernatorial race and mild winter weather helped drive brisk local turnout Tuesday on the first day of primary election early voting.
By the middle of the day, local GOP turnout was more than double the 543 Republicans who voted on the first day of the 2006 primary, said Jacque Callanen, Bexar County elections administrator. Total first-day Bexar County turnout was 2,140 Republicans and 1,932 Democrats for a total of 4,072, compared with 1,690 in 2006.
Early voter totals from Comal County, north of San Antonio are showing the same results. Republicans are swamping Democrats in early voting. While Republicans often lead Democrats in early voting, what is happening this year is off the charts.
I returned from my county Republican meeting this evening and the happy news came to us that over in neighboring Tarrant County (Ft Worth) Republican early voting is exceeding the Dems by 5 to 1. Even more importantly, first time Republican primary voters were 40% of the vote.
What About After the Primary Vote?
Assuming Tea Party folks are swelling the early vote totals for Republicans, what happens after some of their candidates lose (like their favorite Debra Medina, in her quest to unseat Governor Rick Perry)? Will they stay on board? If they follow the lead of one of the largest tea party groups, yes. From Tea Party Patriots Inc. :
Tea Party Patriots is issuing this statement in order to make it clear that we are not associated with any attempts to form a third party. Additionally, we believe that such efforts are unproductive and unwise at this time. The history of third party movements in this country is one of division and defeat. We believe that it is instead time for all Americans to rise up and demand appropriate reform within their own parties.