5 things to watch on Election Day in Texas

Polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday

Texas could be in the midst of major political shift. Several long-held seats are up for grabs locally. And no one knows what’s going to happen in the presidential race. Here’s what you can watch for on Election Day 2020.

Editor’s note: Get election results on our homepage and Vote 2020 page. Be the first to know by downloading our newsreader app or signing up for breaking news email alerts.

This election has been unlike any other in history.

Texas could be in the midst of major political shift. Several long-held seats are up for grabs locally. And no one knows what’s going to happen in the presidential race. Here’s what you can watch for on Election Day 2020.

1. Be patient

Results from early voting will start to be released as polls close at 7 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday. You can find those on KSAT.com.

According to the Texas Secretary of State Office, more than 680,000 people voted early in Bexar County. That figure has already surpassed the total voter turnout in Bexar County in 2016, including Election Day. The early vote results released first — around 7 p.m. — provide a snapshot of the race, but are not final results.

Final, statewide numbers that include Election Day votes and mail-in ballots may not be available for at least the first few hours after polls close Tuesday night. The larger a race’s electorate, the longer you can expect the final results to take.

Keep in mind that El Paso and parts of West Texas are in the Mountain Time zone, so they will be an hour behind. Texas also has 254 counties reporting results in a variety of ways, which can cause some delays.

In past elections, results from the county have come in faster than statewide numbers, and results from Texas have come in earlier than nationwide results.

In 2016, the presidential election was called for President Donald Trump within a few hours of polls closing. In 2018, the highly contested race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke was called before 10 p.m.

This year, though, there are several congressional and statehouse races that could be decided much later and go into the night or even next day. The presidential results could take longer.

READ MORE: When will we know the results of the 2020 presidential election?

2. Can Trump hold onto Texas?

For the first time in decades, Texas is considered a battleground or swing state.

The last time a Democrat won Texas in a presidential election was Jimmy Carter 1976. The last time a Democrat won statewide was 1992.

But the state has been trending towards Democratic candidates for the past two election cycles.

Mitt Romney won Texas by nearly 16 percentage points in 2012, but that number dropped to nine percentage points in 2016.

According to Five Thirty Eight’s national polling average, Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden are neck and neck in Texas.

Texas has 38, winner-take-all electoral votes, the second-most in the country to California.

Political analysts say if Trump loses Texas, it will be extremely difficult for him to win reelection.

3. Will the Texas House flip?

While the top of the ballot has received the most attention, the balance of the Texas House of Representatives is also at stake.

For the first time in years, Democrats have a chance to flip the 150-member Texas House, which has been controlled by Republicans for more than a decade. The stakes couldn’t be higher, since next legislative session will include redistricting, the once-in-a-decade process by which the Texas Legislature draws district maps for Congress and state legislative seats.

To gain control of the House, Democrats would need to pick up nine seats. They gained 12 in the 2018 midterm.

There are 18 to 22 state House races that Democrats are targeting. Many of them are in the suburbs of Dallas and Houston, but at least one in San Antonio is expected to be pivotal.

In District 121, Rep. Steve Allison is hoping to hold onto his seat against Democrat Celina Montoya. Allison defeated Montoya in the North Side district in 2018, but Montoya has raised more money this time around and hopes the increased turnout plays to her advantage.

The district has traditionally been a Republican stronghold that covers parts of north central and northeast San Antonio, Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills and Olmos Park. It was long held by former Speaker Joe Straus.

4. More key races for Congress, Texas Senate, County Commissioners

Aside from the Texas House and president, there are several high-profile federal-, state- and county-level races that have local implications.

Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn is seeking to hold onto his seat against Democrat MJ Hegar.

In 2018, Beto O’Rourke lost to Ted Cruz for the state’s other U.S. Senate seat, but many analysts said it opened the door for a Democrat to possibly win a U.S. Senate seat in Texas for the first time since the early 1990s.

In the latest FiveThirtyEight.com poll, Cornyn, who has held the seat since 2002, was up by four percentage points over Hegar.

Texas' 23rd congressional district is a perennial battleground that stretches from the western parts of San Antonio to the border and West Texas.

The seat opened after Rep. Will Hurd retired. It has turned into one of most competitive battles of this election cycle with Republican Tony Gonzales squaring off against Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones.

Another key congressional race to watch is incumbent Rep. Chip Roy facing Democrat Wendy Davis in CD-21.

The district serves the area north of San Antonio and a significant portion of Austin.

In the Texas Senate, the race for District 19 will be closely watched. It covers more than a dozen counties, including Bexar County.

In 2018, Rep. Pete Flores shocked Texas political experts by winning the district, becoming the first Republican to win there since the Reconstruction era in the 1870s. Roland Gutierrez is seeking to win back the long-held Democratic seat.

5. Recounts

With the amount of highly competitive races on the ballot, there could be a number of recounts requested by candidates.

In Texas, a trailing candidate can request a recount if the margin of victory is less than 10 percent of the number of votes the leading candidate received.

Recounted elections can take weeks to determine a final result. In the event of a tie, there will be an automatic recount with no set date for completion.

Read more from KSAT’s Vote 2020 page:

About the Author:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.