Updated: Tuesday, 02 Mar 2010, 6:57 PM CST
Published : Tuesday, 02 Mar 2010, 8:19 AM CST
AUSTIN (KXAN) - The gubernatorial candidates in both parties have been on the trail non stop in an effort to sway last-minute undecided voters. By late tonight, the candidates will know if their efforts paid off.
During early voting in Travis County and across the state -- double the amount of people cast their ballot than in the last gubernatorial primary in 2006.
After all the ads and phone calls, voters will finally get their chance today to weigh in on Texas' governors race. Both Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will be trying to muster last-minute support in Dallas.
Meanwhile, Republican activist Debra Medina is a favorite among many Tea Party voters and could pull in enough support to force a runoff. Perry, the state's longest-serving governor, is campaigning for a third full four-year term. Hutchison argues he's trying to stay too long and Medina calls herself the best alternative to career politicians.
Democratic cross-over votes could be a game changer in the Republican primary, said Jeff Smith of Austin's Opinion Analysts. In early voting, cross-over voting -- Democrats choosing to vote in the Republican primary -- was 10.4 percent in the state's five most-populous counties. In Travis County, 29.6 percent of the Republican primary voters were non-Republicans.
Smith said he had no reason to believe that 10.4 percent trend wouldn't continue through Election Day. In that case, the percentage could push Perry into a run-off election. The best Perry has polled, in published polls, has been 49 percent among likely Republican voters.
The Republican winner will go up against the Democratic nominee in November. Former Houston Mayor Bill White is favored among the Democrats over Houston hair care mogul Farouk Shami of Houston and a field of five other challengers. Former Mayor of Houston Bill White and hair car magnate Farouk Shami are the front runners for the Democrats Physician Alma Ludivina Aguado, Teacher Felix Alvarado, Private Investigator Bill Dear, Associate Professor Clement E. Glenn, and Builder and Rancher Star Locke are also running.
At Zilker Elementary School in South Austin voters are trickling in to cast their ballots and most concerned about the top of the ticket. Most of the voters KXAN spoke with at Zilker Elementary School in South Austin are anticipating a runoff for the republican nomination in April.
"The governor's race I feel pretty strongly about I am going to vote for Perry, that's what we disagree on,” said voter, Joe Joseph.
The face off between Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison has the Joseph house divided.
"I think change may be a good thing and I like what I've heard her say,” said Hazel Joseph.
Even democrats we talked to say they are getting caught up in this year's republican primary.
"They're both putting in a lot of money towards their campaigns,” said voter Vic Ramirez.
Gabe Kirchner voted for Bill White and is hoping Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry are forced to duke it out again in April,
"I hope that tonight we see a runoff,” said Kirchner, “I think that will be fun it’s been kind of amusing watching them tear each other apart."
However, by all the signs out front of polling locations you can tell the governor’s seat is not the only spot up for grabs.
"There's a lot of people on the ballot today,” said Kirchner.
Also, because it's an even numbered year most voting locations are holding precinct conventions tonight at 7:15. That is where voters decide on resolutions and elect representatives for the county convention.
"There will be a republican precinct convention in one room and in another room a democratic convention,” said democratic precinct chair Maryann Neely.
The Texas Secretary of State's Office said 62 percent of early ballots cast in the state's 15 most populated counties were in the Republican primary.
The Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. In Travis County, polling sites can be found here. Williamson County election day polling sites can be found here . The polling sites in Hays County can be found here.
If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in any particular race, there will be a run-off election on April 13th.