Political experts are looking at the role Tarrant County could play in the 2020 election.
“Tarrant County is often viewed as a bellwether for North Texas politics and certainly the state of Texas,” said University of North Texas Political Science Professor Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha.
For almost 35 years, Tarrant County was the most reliably red, urban county in Texas. Then, 2018 happened.
“Beto O’Rourke actually won Tarrant County in 2018. And we're looking to increase his gains and to win Tarrant County pretty decisively here in 2020,” Texas Democratic Party Communications Director Abhi Rahman said.
“I think 2018, you have a lot of different factors there,” Republican Party of Texas Chairman Lt. Col. Allen West said. “Again, it was the opportunity of Mr. O'Rourke to get out and create an enthusiasm. Really, people not understanding his true policies.”
So what, if anything, can we say about 2020, based on what we know about 2018?
“2018 is tricky,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “We can make predictions that 2020 will extend 2018, and we're seeing early indications of that in early voting turnout. But we'll just have to wait and see. 2018 could very well be an outlier.”
How do the Texas Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Texas view the situation?
“You have a lot of folks on the Republican side that are energetic and enthused. All you have to do is look at the rallies that are held every single weekend,” said West.
“Tarrant County is becoming younger. It's becoming more diverse,” Rahman said. “It's becoming an area where, demographically speaking, it's shifting to becoming more Democratic.”
“What are voters willing to do? What motivates Democratic voters to turn out to vote? And is this something that they can continue to do election after election?” said Eshbaugh-Soha.
We’ll learn the answers to those questions in time.
What we do know, is that Tarrant County voters want to get out and vote.
In fact, Tarrant County Elections told WFAA that they will be asking county commissioners during their Tuesday meeting for permission to open eight more polling locations for early voting.
“Early voting numbers are promising and suggestive that Democrats might be able to gain some more representation in Tarrant County, but we'll just have to wait and see what the final tally shows,” said Eshbaugh-Soha.