The ultra-low turnout primary election (almost) devoid of drama: Tiny landslides in Travis County and beyond – News

Susanna Ledesma-Woody, who was winning her race for County Commissioner Travis Precinct 4 at this point, and Matt Worthington, who had clearly lost his race for State Representative for District 51, at their joint watch party March 1 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

One of the standard GOP responses to accusations of voter suppression last year was: “Look how many new voters Texas has! Watch how attendance reached record highs in 2020! No one’s vote is suppressedVoters’ engagement in Tuesday’s primary, the first to be held under new Trump-adjacent “election integrity” rules that were supposed to make it “easy to vote and hard to cheat,” won’t help them make this point.

Fewer than 3 million of the state’s more than 17 million registered voters turned out for primaries that featured hot contests on both sides of the ballot, even as the threat posed to Governor Greg Abbott by his main challengers MAGAriffic Don Huffines and Allen West was always over the top. Less than a million of them were Democrats, which tells you how many non-primary voters Beto O’Rourke must be talking to, when his treks through Texas hit their towns, to be competitive in November. Much less than that will happen in late May for the playoffs to decide who else will be on the Dems’ statewide ticket. Expect plenty of musings on all of these facts, which of them translate into lawsuits to overturn the Senate Bill 1 election package, and the extent to which Beto must now veer to the center. The last of them is the least interesting but will get the most coverage from the national media parachuting in and out of state this week.

Locally, even among the many political and election junkies in Travis County, the story was much the same. About 157,000 of Travis’ more than 850,000 registered voters turned out, though here the partisan split favored the Democrats by more than 2 to 1. When turnout is this low, people expect that more races are tight, but for no good reason; just about everyone who comes forward has been identified and targeted by multiple local campaigns, so candidates who act more together and raise enough money (not necessarily more money, just enough to compete) tend to win by landslides. We saw it last night in all but one race – the dramatic presumptive victory of perennial Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gómez over Del Valle ISD Administrator Susanna Ledesma-Woody, who called for a recount. Learn all the details (and election night gossip) about all the races on the pages that follow; we’ll be back with more in-depth election analysis next week.

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