DALLAS — Last week, Texas voters got their first chance to line up and cast a ballot, but across the state those lines have been shorter than expected.

Dallas County Republican Chair Jennifer Stoddard Hajdu says the party is feeling confident about numbers they’ve seen so far.

“This is the best slate of candidates we’ve had in several years and there’s just a lot of enthusiasm around it,” she said.

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Both Republicans and Democrats claim the enthusiasm edge, and both are blaming rain -- and even football -- this weekend for poor turnout.

“We have a lot of time to tap into what is motivating people to vote and actually turn them out to vote,” said Jamarr Brown, executive director of the Texas Democrat Party. “We’re excited because we think we have the best opportunity to make gains in the state.”

Through Sunday, Tarrant County turnout is 20% lower than the same time in 2018, with 199,044 votes compared to 248,754. And in Dallas County, turnout is 33% lower, with 198,343 votes compared to 293,334 in 2018.

Across the state, get out the vote events were in full force this weekend with one week of early voting left.

“It is so important that everyone in the community gets out to vote,” Alisha Trusty of Friendship West Baptist Church said during a get out the vote rally Sunday. “People have shed tears and lost their lives for us to have this right.”

“It’s important for us to get involved in this election because our issues are on the ballot,” Cliff Albright of Black Voters Matter said during a separate rally in Dallas.

Texas is on pace for about a 36% turnout based on numbers so far, according to political outlet Quorum Report. Fifty-three percent showed up in 2018. 

A lower turnout often favors Republican candidates, but Democrats aren’t discouraged.

“Low voter turnout isn’t bad for Democrats or Republicans. It’s bad for democracy as a whole,” Brown said. “It’s about meeting people in their communities where they are, encouraging them to go vote and directing them of how to vote when they show up and get there.”

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“We’re going to continue our efforts up until the 9th hour,” Hajdu said. “I think we’re going to have a very good showing. I think we’re going to win some seats that people are going to be surprised that we won.”

Democrats have pushed issues like abortion rights after the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Texas passing a ban that doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest, the ERCOT grid failure and winter freeze where hundreds of Texans died, and gun safety after 19 students and two teachers were killed in Uvalde.

The Republican message has been squarely on the economy, though, and has been driving voters for the party.

“Democrats don’t really have the message to address the issues that we’re hearing from voters,” Hajdu said.

“If you want a change on whatever issue impacts you, you do need to show up and vote and you need to make a plan and actually go do it,” Brown said. “I feel good about our prospects. I think this is going to be one of the closest elections in our generation.”