Straight-ticket voting reached a record level of 67.49 percent of ballots cast for the U.S. Senate candidates during the November 2018 general election, a more than six percentage point (pp) increase compared to the 2014 election.
These findings come from the just-released Straight Ticket Voting in Texas report produced by Stefan Haag, retired ACC Government professor, and Peck Young, ACC Center for Public Policy and Political Studies (CPPPS) director. The report also includes an analysis of the effect of straight-ticket voting in Texas on the U.S. Senate contest between incumbent Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke. According to the findings, straight-ticket voting in the seven metro counties favored the Democratic Party.
“There is no doubt that Democratic Party candidates were advantaged in the 2018 elections,” says the report. “Most analyses of the election contend that straight-ticket voting helped the Democratic Party candidates in certain types of counties—metropolitan and some suburbs. And we agree that the increased competitiveness of Democrats in many counties was abetted by straight-ticket voting.”
Texas is currently one of only eight states that allowed straight-ticket voting in the 2018 general election. In 2017, the Texas legislature enacted a law that eliminates straight-ticket voting commencing with the 2020 general election.
“The greatest effect of the elimination of straight-ticket voting will probably not be the elimination of Texans voting for all candidates of one political party—the essence of straight-ticket voting. The effect will be that people will spend more time in the voting booth. Unable to cast a vote with “one punch,” voters will have to select their favored political party’s candidate in each contest.,” states the report.
The study concludes that education of the party’s voters will be essential in the new Texas elections system in which there will be no straight-ticket voting.