With midterm one week away, experts warn against predicting blue wave

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Photo Credit: Bixie Mathieu | Daily Texan Staff

With midterm elections one week away, Texas political experts say the heavily discussed blue wave may not be on the horizon. 

Jeff Blaylock, the publisher of the nonpartisan political guide, “Texas Election Source,” said generally Republican candidates are still leading polls in Texas by the double digits. 

“At this point, I still think it’s a red state,” Blaylock said.

Associate government professor Bethany Albertson said she would be cautious about anticipating a Democratic sweep of statewide and congressional offices.

“There’s all this buzz, but it may not amount to anything,” Albertson said. “And of course we’re not going to know until Election Day.”

Albertson said early voter turnout has been higher than normal, closer to numbers usually seen during presidential elections. 

The higher numbers could be attributed to the 2016 presidential election, which fired up liberal voters, as well as excitement over popular Democratic candidates currently fighting for office, Albertson said. 

“Texas is traditionally a safe Republican state, but we have a competitive race in the Senate, and that’s going to spark some interest,” Albertson said. “But it goes beyond the Senate race … there’s a number of competitive races with nontraditional candidates and so there’s a renewed sense of interest among Texans.”

Jonathan Saenz is the president of Texas Values, a conservative political advocacy organization. Saenz said he believes voter interest has also spiked because of intense reactions to the Senate hearing on sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh early last month. 

Liberal voters won’t be the only ones newly motivated to cast their ballots, Saenz said. 

“While (the hearing) motivated a lot of Democrats to get out and vote, it also woke up sleeping Republicans,” Saenz said. “There is the traditional trend that the party that just won (the presidential election) loses seats in the midterms, but there seems to be a pretty strong wave coming from the red side that’s prepared to meet that effort. It’s an interesting set of circumstances.”

Saenz said in the meantime, people planning to vote in the next few days should be wary of public polls that tout one party’s chances over the other.  

“The only poll that matters at the end of the day is the ballot box,” Saenz said. “There can be some value to this poll and that poll, but their vote is what determines the election outcome. It’s very important for people to have a real understanding of the role they play in determining the way an election goes.”

Albertson said no matter the outcome, she hopes younger voter turnout continues to increase in the future.

“This election we’ve seen some younger faces and young people pushing their parties to speak more to their issues,” Albertson said. “For me, that’s the most exciting thing, to see some of the old guard challenged by younger leaders.”

The worst-case scenario, Blaylock said, would be next week’s results preventing future turnout. 

“If there’s disillusionment there, that’s really sad,” Blaylock said. ”Politics come and go and times will change, but things won’t change if young voters don’t continually engage (with) the process.”