Texas sees massive voter turnout — and it could turn the state blue

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Massive turnout has already surpassed that of 2016 in some parts of the state.

Voter turnout in Texas continues to astound political analysts, with some parts of the state now surpassing their 2016 vote totals with a week to go before Election Day.

The massive voter turnout — especially in heavily Democratic regions of the state — has put Texas in play for the first time in decades. NBC News rates the race a toss-up, and polls are showing Donald Trump with a narrow 1 point lead over Democratic nominee Joe Biden, according to FiveThirtyEight.

On Tuesday, Travis County — which includes the liberal bastion of Austin and its surrounding suburbs — topped its 2016 vote total, according to the Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman. The county now has 470,535 votes cast, greater than the 468,720 people who voted in the county four years ago.

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Travis County is one of the most Democratic in the state. Former Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke won 73.4% of the vote in the county in 2018, when he narrowly lost a Senate race to Republican Ted Cruz. That extra turnout in Travis County could end up helping Biden.

Turnout in Texas' 22nd Congressional District — a historically Republican seat in the Houston suburbs that is now trending toward Democrats, as suburban voters turn away from Trump and the GOP — also surpassed its 2016 raw vote total on Tuesday, according to the campaign of the district's Democratic nominee, Sri Kularni. As of Tuesday morning, 314,000 votes had been cast in the district, up from 305,000 that had been cast in the 2016 election.

Overall, more than 7.8 million people have voted in Texas as of Wednesday morning, according to the U.S. Elections Project. That's 87% of the more than 8.9 million people who cast ballots in the state in 2016.

Texas has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1976.

Yet the shift in college-educated voters and suburbanites abandoning Trump and the Republican Party has made the state competitive.

Biden's campaign is running ads in the state, while his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), is making a campaign stop in Texas on Friday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.