WASHINGTON — Voters across the country have been crowding into polling places and mailing in ballots in numbers rarely seen in an off-year election.
In some states, more people are on track to cast ballots in early voting than in the entire election in 2014. In Texas, one such state, hundreds of thousands of new voters have already participated. Democrats hope that surge indicates that their Senate candidate, Beto O’Rourke, may be succeeding in mobilizing a crucial demographic.
But Republicans are also energized, turning out in larger numbers than Democrats so far in Florida, for example, where a cliffhanger race for governor features a Donald Trump acolyte competing against a progressive who would be the state’s first African-American governor.
The picture in California so far is more status quo. The state has at least a half dozen hotly contested congressional districts, which could play a big role in whether Democrats take back a majority in the House. But in the rest of the state, the lack of a close race at the top of ticket is holding down turnout, said Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data, which compiles voter data in the state.
One of the most diverse pools of candidates ever in the U.S. is up for election Tuesday, and many of them will be firsts if voted into office. They’re running for offices for governor, House and Senate and state legislative, mayoral, city council and school board positions.
Of the thousands of such candidates that political scientists, activists and political action committees have tracked, most are running on Democratic tickets. That trend matches long-standing data that Republican voters and candidates are more likely to be white while the Democratic side tends to be more diverse.
Republicans have a candidate from California who could become the first Korean-American woman in Congress, one in Rhode Island who would be the state’s first Asian-American governor, and one from Hawaii who could be that state’s first openly gay man in Congress.
According to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, there are 6,066 state legislative races Tuesday with more than 5,300 Democratic candidates in the running. About 1,100 are nonwhite Democrats. More than 275 candidates in those state races are nonwhite Republicans.