Early voting for the March primary has begun in Texas. As with recent political cycles, Democrats are hoping to turn Texas blue this time around. Lol! Yeah, that’s still a pipe dream but their voter enthusiasm is markedly up as of the first-day results and that’s undeniable. Will our nation’s largest red state begin to be colored purple in 2018?

As noted in the Houston Chronicle, early voting began on February 20 and so far, Democrat voter turnout has increased while the Republican voting numbers are holding steady.

But while Democrats are voting in larger numbers than they did four years ago, Republicans still are near where they were in 2014, even though they lack the same star power in the primary that they had that year at the top of the ballot.

In the state’s largest 15 counties, nearly 50,000 people voted in the Democratic primary elections on the first day of early voting.

In 2014 — the last midterm election cycle — only about 25,000 Democrats voted in the primary. Never have the Democrats had so many early voters in a primary in a gubernatorial election cycle going back to the mid-1990s when early voting started.

“Never have the Democrats had so many early voters in a primary in a gubernatorial election cycle going back to the mid-1990s when early voting started.” That is quite a statement. Generally speaking, Republicans are faithful voters in mid-term years while Democrats mostly turn out for the biggie – the presidential year elections. Normal assumptions have been thrown out the window with the election of Donald Trump in 2016. With increased voter interest among anti-Trump voters and the increase in Texas’ population from failing liberal states, like California, the landscape is a little different. Add to that the effects still present from Hurricane Harvey and so many Texans living outside their homes in Harris County, anyone who tells you what the outcome will be is no more certain than the next person.

Most importantly, Democrats have worked very hard to field candidates in every race statewide, whereas in past years many Republicans went unchallenged.

State Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa said the numbers once again point to Democrats being more competitive than ever before.

“We have an historic number of Democratic candidates in virtually every level of office and the progressive values to more our state forward,” he said.

The San Antonio newspaper cites normal participation of Republicans in mail-in ballots, and the Democrats are noting the number of Democrats running for office. (Austin American-Statesman)

Officials with the Texas Democratic Party said the early voter turnout so far is symptomatic of the high number of Democrats candidates — 323 in congressional and state legislative races. There are 311 Republicans running for congressional and state legislative races.

From a personal perspective, I receive an email each night from my county clerk’s office with voting totals and monitor the numbers at various early voting sites, including the one where I early vote. The numbers are low, generally, and when broken out between Democrats and Republicans, the first two days results show Democrats increased their number each day while Republicans tapered off the second day. My part of Houston has been considered a stronghold for Republicans for as long as I’ve lived here – since 1998. In 2016, however, Hillary Clinton won the district over Trump and nothing should be taken for granted in 2018.