TargetSmart Analysis Shows Strength of a Younger, More Diverse Electorate in Texas
Following an electrifying Senate race where Beto O’Rourke’s campaign nearly claimed Ted Cruz’s Senate seat, an energized youth vote may spell trouble for Donald Trump, John Cornyn, and vulnerable House Republicans in 2020. A new Quinnipiac poll lends credence to this possibility, revealing a virtual polling tie between Trump and leading Democratic contenders including Beto O’Rourke, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator Bernie Sanders in hypothetical head-to-head matches.
A new TargetSmart analysis shows that an electoral shift in the 2018 midterm elections, powered by a surge in youth vote participation, may play a role in turning the tables in Texas in 2020. Our analysis finds that over half of first time voters in Texas’ 2018 election — 373,518 people — were under the age of 30. Additionally, younger Hispanic voters are making their voices heard, with Hispanic voters comprising nearly a third of the vote share of voters under 30 years old. If Texas can continue to harness the momentum from youth and Hispanic voters seen in the 2018 midterm elections, then the state should be one to watch as the 2020 election approaches.
Texas followed the national trend of an increased share of young voters in 2018 midterm elections compared to the 2014 elections. Voters under 30 nearly doubled their vote share relative to 2014 — a five percent increase — and nearly matched 2016 participation levels. Our analysis also found that younger Hispanic voters are becoming an increasingly engaged force. They made up 30 percent of the vote share of voters under 30 in 2018 , a 10 percent increase from 2014. Additionally among voters under 30 in Texas, Hispanic voters comprised a larger vote share than in the 2016 general election. Finally, voters aged 50–64 saw the largest decrease in vote share, a drop of five percent.
In 2018, Hispanic voters increased their vote share by around six percent relative to the 2014 midterm elections. African Americans decreased vote share slightly compared to 2014. Asian American, Hispanic voters increased vote share compared to 2014 and Caucasian voters decreased their vote share by nearly seven percent relative to 2014.
The shift to a more diverse electorate is even more pronounced when looking specifically at voters under 30. While the share of Caucasian voters under thirty declined by 11 percent by vote share, Hispanic voters in that cohort surged by 10 percent.
In Texas, gender breakdown of vote share remained relatively stagnant across 2014, 2016, and 2018. When controlled for race however, Hispanic female voters increased their vote share by six percent compared to 2014 and maintained near exact levels of participation from 2016.
Our analysis of first time vote share and newly registered voters reveals the potential for an electoral shift in Texas, as younger voters demonstrated their growing commitment to political engagement. Half of first time voters were under 30 years old (373,518), a 13 percent increase from the 2016 presidential election. Additionally Hispanic voters comprised nearly a third of the vote share for first time voters, a 14 percent increase relative to 2014.