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Election Politics

Early voting, Day 5: Most GOP voters skipped the 2016 Republican primary, including their congressional candidates

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In the first five days of early voting, El Paso Republicans and Democrats have both doubled their turnout at the same point of the 2016 primaries. But while most people casting Democratic votes also participated in the same party primary in 2016, the vast majority of GOP voters sat on the sidelines in the Republican primary four years ago.

That includes four of the six Republicans seeking their party’s nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar for the 16th Congressional District seat.

Among Republican early voters in El Paso through Saturday’s fifth day of voting, only 7 percent voted in the 2016 GOP primary; 9.5 percent voted in the Democratic primary four years ago; and more than 83 percent didn’t vote in either primary back then.

Republican congressional candidates Samuel Williams and Blanca Ortiz Trout voted in El Paso GOP primaries both this year and in 2016. Candidates Anthony Aguero, Patrick Hernandez-Cigarruista, Jaime Arriola Jr. and Irene Armendariz-Jackson voted in this year’s Republican primary but sat out the 2016 primary season, according to voting records.

What’s unusual about all this is that Texas Republicans had a pretty heated presidential primary in 2016 between Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. That helped draw almost 29,000 El Pasoans to the Republican primary that year. But not most of the people who are voting in the Republican primary this year – or most of those now seeking the party’s El Paso congressional nomination.

Voters by sex

Women make up about 51 percent of voters so far; history says that percentage will likely rise each day between now and the end of early voting Friday.

Voters by age

The turnout through five days of early voting continues to skew old, but not as old as earlier in the week. People over 65 account for 48 percent of all voters, down from just over 50 percent most of the week.

But that’s because we’ve seen an increase in voters age 50-64. Voters age 18 to 49 make up on 27 percent of voters so far, even though they account for 59 percent of all registered voters.

And El Pasoans over age 80 continue to cast more votes than those under 30.

Votes by party

As is typical in El Paso, Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in primary voting. Democrats have cast 3.3 votes for every 1 Republican vote, a slightly higher proportion than in the last presidential primary in 2016.

Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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