Wave Jumpers

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from The Wall Street Journal,

In Texas primaries, why did so many more Republicans vote than Democrats?

“Texas voting: 2018’s first primary points to liberal enthusiasm,” announces a Washington Post headline today. It’s an interesting interpretation of Tuesday’s results, which point most of all to conservative victory.

The Post wrote exactly the headline that many journalists had been expecting to write before the votes were counted in Texas. On Sunday, National Public Radio’s website noted signs of significant political change in the nation’s second most populous state.

Larger turnout among Democrats than Republicans in Texas elections would certainly count as news. Would the early voting totals hold up? With almost all precincts having reported, the Post writes:

Democratic voters showed up in force in Texas on Tuesday for the nation’s first primary of the year, providing fresh evidence that liberal enthusiasm could reshape even deeply Republican states come November.

Turnout appeared to be up for both parties, but the Democrats showed the greatest growth. From Houston to the border with Mexico, they voted in numbers far greater than in 2014 primaries, motivated by a surplus of candidates, concern over one-party control of Washington and dissatisfaction with President Trump.

Following that preamble, the Post reports the results:

Republicans continued to have a clear advantage in the state, with more Texans voting in their primary than in Democrats’.

But isn’t primary turnout a sign of enthusiasm and didn’t we just learn that the enthusiasm is occurring among liberals? While Post readers mull this over, the paper returns to the central theme:

The turnout from the left in Texas follows a string of races around the country where Democrats have shown new enthusiasm for voting in nonpresidential years….

The Post is right on target about the Virginia results. If the nation follows the voting patterns of the Old Dominion, a Democratic wave will wash away the Republican majorities in Congress. Republican members of Congress will be especially fearful of a political flood if their candidate loses a special election on Tuesday in a Pennsylvania district that Donald Trump won easily in 2016.

But it’s the voting patterns in Texas that are the subject of today’s news. And they do suggest an enthusiasm gap, but not the one that has fascinated so much of the press corps.

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