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Why Texas Democrats Haven't Shown Up At the Polls

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News
Primary voters wait in line at polling station at Fiesta Mart in Austin on March 1.

From Texas Standard:

The state broke a record for ballots cast in last week's primary. But Texas still fared poorly among other the 12 states that have held primaries, coming in second to only Louisiana in the country's lowest voter turnout so far. Our weak showing was primarily because Democrats didn't really go to the polls – just 7.2 percent of registered Democrats voted. Places like El Paso – a Democratic stronghold – had a remarkably low turnout.

Why is it that whenever there's an opportunity for Democrats to take a stand in Texas – turnout among Democrats fails to meet expectations?


Mark Jones, a fellow in political science at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy, says the high turnouts in New England paled by comparison to Texas.

"The Sanders campaign didn't mount a vigorous challenge to Hillary Clinton," he says, "in part because the Sanders people believed Hillary pretty much had Texas locked up."

What you'll hear in this segment:

– How the Democratic race compared to the Republican vote, in terms of voters' sense of urgency

– What drives turnout at the county and local levels in Democratic and Republican primaries

– Why Democrats don't try to compete for statewide seats and what tampers down competition within the party for local seats

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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