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Few Texans Will Cast Ballots in The Primary on Tuesday. They Will Select the State’s Governor!


CNS NewsAs Texas gears up for its primary elections, a concerning trend emerges only a fraction of Texans is expected to participate in the crucial decision-making process that determines the state’s leadership. In the Lone Star State, the primary elections often hold the key to who ultimately runs the show, with significant implications for the state’s governance.

In the 2022 race for State House District 142 in Houston, the dynamics of primary elections came sharply into focus. Incumbent Harold Dutton faced a challenge from Candis Houston in the Democratic primary, reflecting internal party disagreements over policies such as transgender student athlete restrictions and a state takeover of Houston ISD.

Despite the primary being the battleground for this contest, the district’s heavy Democratic leaning all but guaranteed Dutton’s victory in the general election, rendering the primary as the decisive election. This pattern is not unique to District 142 but rather reflects a broader trend across Texas.

Gerrymandering and noncompetitive elections often result in primary elections being the de facto determinants of who holds power. While turnout in general elections tends to be higher, the outcome is often predetermined by the primary results, especially in districts with clear partisan leanings. The impact of these primary elections reverberates throughout the state’s governance structure.

Few Texans Will Cast Ballots in The Primary on Tuesday. They Will Select the State's Governor!

Lawmakers, cognizant of the preferences of primary voters who tend to be more activist and polarized, are incentivized to cater to their base rather than the broader electorate. These dynamic shapes policy decisions and the legislative agenda, affecting issues ranging from public education to gun control.

Furthermore, the lack of competitiveness in general elections contributes to a significant gap in voter participation between primaries and the general election. In 2020, primary turnout was a mere 25%, while general election turnout soared to 67%, underscoring the disproportionate influence of primary voters on the state’s political landscape.

This trend is exacerbated by geographic polarization and gerrymandering, which have resulted in fewer competitive races across the state. The redrawing of district lines in 2021 further entrenched this lack of competition, tilting the scales in favor of incumbents and reducing the incentive for meaningful political engagement beyond the primary stage.

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As Texas prepares for another round of primary elections, the message to voters is clear: the primary is not just a formality but a critical juncture where the fate of the state is often decided. For those seeking to have a say in who represents them and the direction of governance, active participation in the primary is imperative, as it may be the only opportunity to influence the outcome.

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