AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Heading into the weekend before the Tuesday election following a two-week period of low voter turnout, candidates are crisscrossing the state to drive home their messages to voters, mainly to do just that: vote.
At the top of the ticket, incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke have been on respective campaign blitzes. The governor is sticking to major talking points that have driven his campaign and mobilized the GOP, while O’Rourke hopes to build energy by bringing the possibility of an upset into voters’ minds.
Brian Smith, a politics professor at St. Edwards University, said mobilizing the base to the polls will be critical for candidates, with early voting turnout showing Texans are not as energized to vote as they were during the 2018 midterms.
“The parties understand ‘if I get my side to vote, that’s how we’re going to win.’ It’s going to be about turnout,” Smith said.
While many of the Democrats running for statewide office have outraised their Republican challengers in the last campaign finance reporting period – political analysts note it will still be an uphill battle for the party that has not won a Texas statewide race since 1994.
“Polling and voting data suggest that, as of early October, there are no apparent signs of a significant disruption to the status quo in electoral trends in the state, and signs of shifts in a more typical direction compared to 2018, which took place in a very different electoral environment,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project, in a Monday newsletter.
Despite this, Republicans are not assuming victories will be given, reminding their base that every vote will make a difference.
“Speeches do not win elections. Only one thing wins elections and that is votes.” Abbott said.
Speaking to a Lubbock radio station on the Chad Hasty show this week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he and Abbott are “not way ahead” and believes the two are in single-digit races.
“The election is not won or lost yet. It’s all about the final election count. And that is our most accurate survey of all.” Smith said.
While the GOP is doubling down on the economy and inflation, immigration and crime, Democrats are honing in on gun violence, the grid failure, and are hoping issues like reproductive rights will be a dark horse that mobilizes voters on the final day of early voting and Tuesday.
“We’re gonna fight for our rights…the right for women, anybody in this state who gets pregnant, to make the decision that only you can make about your health care, about your life, and about your destiny.” Mike Collier said.
Monica Madden will have a full report on this on KXAN tonight at 6 p.m.