Record-breaking turnout reported for midterm election

HOUSTON – Record-breaking turnout for the midterm election continued Thursday, with voters waiting in long lines at polling places in Harris County.

So far, about 250,000 votes have been cast in early voting, and political analysts are starting to get some insight into exactly who is voting.

Political consultant Keir Murray said so far, the vote has been split about evenly between Democrats and Republicans, with slightly more men voting than women and the split between white and non-white voters running about 60 percent to 40 percent.

“It's unprecedented in a midterm, and we’re seeing it across the state,” Murray said.

In the election so far, the number of young voters going to the polls has just about doubled.

“We’re seeing (that) about 15 percent of the electorate showing up so far is under the age of 35. That compares to only 7 or 8 percent of (the) total electorate in 2014,” Murray said.

Some of the changes may be driven by U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke’s challenge for incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz’s seat.

For the last year, O’Rourke’s campaign has been working to get young people and other voters to the polls who might not normally participate in midterm elections - voters like 23-year-old Kayla Monis, who voted for the first time Thursday.

“I'm worried about the way a lot of the other generations are voting, and they’re going to determine our future, and we’re going to be the ones to have to live with it,” Monis said.

O’Rourke remains the underdog in the race.

“Clearly, for him to have any chance of prevailing in this state, he’s got to change the makeup of the electorate for a midterm,” Murray said.

Cruz supporters like Melissa Germany are going to the polls as well.

“It’s too close of a race, especially between Beto and Cruz. It’s important everybody gets out here and does it,” she said.

Murray said it’s still not clear what factors are driving the big turnout or which candidates will benefit.

Next week, polling location hours will extend to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Early voting ends Nov. 2.