Guest Author - Tracey-Kay Caldwell
If you have had trouble keeping track of how delegates are awarded in the primaries and caucuses, then Texas will really confuse you. Texas has a two-step process with both a primary and a caucus. You start your day by voting in a traditional primary, and then if you voted in the primary, you can attend a caucus that night to award even more delegates.
On Tuesday, March fourth, Texans will go to the polls and vote to allocate one-hundred and twenty-six delegates. However, unlike many states that award delegates based on congressional districts, Texas divvies them up by senatorial districts. The number of delegates each district has to award is determined by past voter turnout in the previous general elections. In other words, precincts that previously had good turn out are rewarded with more delegates. This is expected to help Obama, as the high Hispanic districts, which favor Clinton, have previously had poor turnout. This is open primary system, where any registered voter who has not voted in another party’s primary may vote in the Democratic primary.
That evening, fifteen minutes after the polls close, the voters return to the precinct for a precinct convention, which is a caucus to award another sixty-seven delegates. Technically these delegates are not awarded until the state convention. The election-night precinct caucuses select delegates for the county convention and the county delegates caucus and select delegates for the state convention which will be held June fifth to the seventh in Austin; then the state delegates caucus and select delegates for the national convention which will be held August, twenty-fifth to the twenty-eighth in Denver. Of the delegates allocated, forty-two are pledged delegates, pledged to represent the proportional representation of the candidate strength at the caucus. The remaining twenty-five delegates are pledged super delegates comprised of the party leadership. They are pledged to vote along the same line as the pledged delegates at the state convention. Because Obama has done so well in caucuses in the past, it is presumed that he will benefit from the caucus process in Texas as well.
Senate districts one through four, which are located in the east region of Texas, will each have four delegates to allocate. Senate district five and eighteen, located in East Central region, will have four delegates to allocate. In the Houston-Galveston region, senate districts six and seven will have three delegates each to award, while senate districts eleven and fifteen will have four each to award, senate district seventeen will award five, and senate district thirteen will have seven delegates to award. In the North Texas region, senate districts eight, twelve, and sixteen will have four delegates each to award, while senate district nine will have three, senate district ten will have five, and senate district twenty-three will have six. In the Austin region, senate district fourteen will award eight delegates. In the Border-South region, senate districts nineteen, twenty, twenty one and twenty six will award four delegates each, while senate districts twenty seven and twenty nine will have three delegates each to award. In the Hill Country Central region, senate districts twenty-two and twenty-four will allocate three delegates and senate district twenty-five will have six delegates to allocate. In the West Texas region, senate districts twenty-eight and thirty will allocate three and senate district thirty-one will allocate two delegates. You may remember the Supreme Court case that upheld the Republican redistricting of the Texas. The districts were designed to help Republicans get elected by breaking up Democratic voting blocks. This may inadvertently help Obama.
The two-step process of Texas is resulted from the fallout of the 1968 McGovern rules, which required open procedures and required proportional representation of women, blacks and others in selecting delegates. To comply with these new rules many states moved to a primary system to select delegates, but Texas unable to decide between primaries and caucuses, decided to give everyone a little of what they wanted by having both. Now we will have to see if the process gives either Clinton or Obama what they want.