Voter turnout was higher in Tarrant County compared with the rest of the state during the midterm elections Tuesday. However, it was lower than 2018, when it hit a decade high.
Only 31% of registered voters went to the polls across the state. In Tarrant County, about 47% of registered voters cast a ballot. The results of Tarrant County’s elections mirrored other statewide trends — Republicans won all countywide races, such as district attorney and county judge, and maintained control over the Tarrant County Commissioners Court.
Turnout at voting precincts across the county spanned between 6% at its lowest and 71% at its highest. A precinct in Colleyville carried the highest turnout. Suburbs are typically responsible for the highest turnout in Tarrant County elections.
A precinct in Fort Worth’s north side had the lowest turnout in the county. The area is mostly commercial and industrial.
In 2018, 56% of registered voters in Tarrant County cast a ballot. Tarrant County reflected statewide trends, when turnout increased across the state for the 2018 midterms. Put another way, about 1.2 million residents are registered to vote in Tarrant County — about 592,000 actually cast a ballot Tuesday.
About 17,600 more votes were cast in 2018 compared with 2022. Turnout in 2018 was an anomaly, possibly prompted by increased polarization following the 2016 election of Donald Trump, said James Riddlesperger, a political science professor at TCU.
Previously, turnout in Tarrant County midterms hovered around 35%.
Typically, presidential elections have much higher turnout compared with midterms. However, increased political polarization in recent years have likely boosted participation in midterm elections, Riddlesperger said.
“Maybe it’s the polarization and the perception that there’s a lot at stake in these elections — maybe more so than it used to be,” Riddlesperger said.
About 582,000 votes were cast in the county judge race. A combined 269,800 votes were cast in the races for county commissioner. The race for governor received the most votes — about 590,000.
Most of the precincts with the lowest turnout are in Fort Worth — precincts near downtown, Fort Worth’s Northside and south central Fort Worth saw turnout of about 8%. The areas tend to be surrounded by industrial development and fall within minority-majority neighborhoods.
Conversely, the precincts with the highest turnout fell into wealthier, whiter neighborhoods spread across the Metroplex. A neighborhood in Crowley, near Benbrook Lake, had the second-highest turnout.
Precincts in northwest Tarrant County and Grapevine also saw turnout near 69%. Some neighborhoods in Fort Worth also reported high turnout — neighborhoods near the Crestline area and TCU had an average turnout of 69.5%.
Turnout was higher in this year’s midterm election compared with previous midterms in 2014 and 2010. Still, turnout in 2022 isn’t necessarily reflective of a trend, despite it being higher than years past, Riddlesperger said.
“Maybe that reflects the fact that people view these races as more competitive,” Riddlesperger said. “If you go back to the 2014 election, no one thought Democrats had a chance at winning a statewide election. So the question is, what is the incentive for a transient voter? Democrat or Republican, to get out and vote.”
Statewide and national races
Tarrant County voted for incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott with 51% of the vote. The result defies Tarrant County’s recent history of voting for Democrats Beto O’Rourke for Senate in 2018 and Joe Biden for president in 2020.
O’Rourke lost his race in 2018, and got just about 44% of the vote statewide.
Some voters at polling places around Tarrant County identified the gubernatorial election as their top motivator for going to the polls.
Peyton Arnold, 19, cast her ballot in Arlington. This election was Arnold’s first time voting.
“What I’ve been keeping in my head was ‘Our bodies, our freedom,’” Arnold said. “To be honest, I don’t really like what Greg Abbott is doing.”
Other voters in conservative Southlake also cited the gubernatorial race as being a key motive for getting out to vote.
Southlake voter Dan Norman, 62, votes in every election. The health of the state was at the top of his mind.
“I just want to keep the state rolling as one of the best states in the country,” Norman said. “That’s the main issue.”
The success of a party’s candidates at the top of the ballot tickles down to local candidates, Riddlesperger said.
“Because we have so many elections on our ballot, the further down the ballot you get the less the average voter knows about the candidates you’re voting for,” Riddlesperger said.
Along with the governor, Tarrant County voters also elected Republicans for lieutenant governor and attorney general —all by a tighter margin than overall statewide results. Both Republicans Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton won Tarrant County with 49% of the vote, 4% less than the statewide margin. Both of their opponents received about 47% of the vote.
Riddlesperger said that is indicative of Tarrant County remaining a competitive county in statewide elections.
“There’s a reversion to Tarrant County voters electing Republicans at the top of the ticket,” Riddlesperger said. “Republicans had a good day yesterday. But the long-term picture of Tarrant County is that it remains competitive.”
Wait times at polling places
Several polling places across the county had wait times longer than an hour, according to Tarrant County’s wait time dashboard.
Education and the gubernatorial election drove Arlington voter Chris Brown to the polls Tuesday. He waited in line for about an hour to cast his ballot. The area has relatively high voter turnout compared with other areas of the county.
“I’m not really big on the direction that the governor in the current administration has taken,” Brown said.
In White Settlement, polling lines at the public library were about 20 minutes long. Kyle Carr, 67, recently had knee surgery. He waited in line with his cane at his side. His biggest priority is border security.
Other voters had hyper local issues on their mind when heading to the ballot. Darlene Watkins, 65, said she voted because she cares about the health and welfare of senior adults.
“I just want to make sure that whoever is elected that policies are set in place where older folks are able to secure the information that they need to live, not only longer, but to live better, that the resources are there,” Watkins said.
Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for fortworthreport.org. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.