Clinton Could Win Texas but Lose the Delegate Count

Clinton Could Win Texas but Lose the Delegate Count


They say everything is bigger down here in Texas. Everything is also more complicated. The byzantine rules for the state’s upcoming primary must have been developed after a wild night of margaritas and cervezas on 6th Street. When all is said and done, the winner of the popular vote could very easily come out with fewer delegates.

By now you probably know Texas combines a primary with precinct caucuses. Sixty-seven of the 193 delegates up for grabs next Tuesday come from these caucuses. That’s good news for Barack Obama who does well at such events. But there’s even better news for Obama and that’s the way the state will apportion the remaining 126 delegates.

Delegates selected in the primary will be divided up by state senate district (31 in all) but they won’t all receive the same number of delegates. The apportionment will be based on turnout numbers in the two most recent Democratic primaries. In 2006 and 2004, turnout was highest in the historically African American districts of Houston and Dallas as well as in such rich liberal areas as Travis County, where Austin is located. Turnout was lowest (as it always is) down along the border counties where Hispanic populations are very high. Anyone who knows anything about the makeup of Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s base supporters knows this situation strongly favors Obama.

Even if Clinton manages to inspire record turnout and huge support from the Rio Grande Valley, those districts will not send as many delegates to the convention as will the more urban districts. Conceivably, Clinton could win the popular vote by several percentage points but lose the delegate count. Texas has been called a firewall state for the New York senator. It might just be a Waterloo.

  • kritter

    If there’s one undeniable positive by-product of the lengthy 2008 primary campaign, it’s the education one gets in the byzantine vagaries of state-by-state electoral processes.

    Got any info on the origin of the part where the number of delegates allotted is determined by recently past turnout? Sounds gerrymanderish to me.

  • Alan Stewart Carl


    We have open primaries and when we register to vote we don’t include a party affliliation. They only way to know how many Democrats are actually in each district is by basing the calculation on primary turnout. I don’t know if the Republicans do it this way — I can’t find the answer.

  • Rich

    Sounds like an effective way of making sure disenfranchised voters remain disenfranchised. You make sure that, if they didn’t support you in the last election, they have even less input and affect on your future candadicy.

    Just like they did to Florida and Michigan….their votes don’t count (no delegates from those states will be seated at the Dem Convention) because they defied the DNS.

    And, let’s not forget about the “super-delegates”….You know, the party elites who can cast their vote for whomever they want – even if it is contrary to what the people want. After all, they know SOOO much more and are SOOO much more enlightened that us “commoners”!!

    I don’t understand why the primary news agencies turn a blind eye to all of this.

  • Steve

    Everyone’s picking on Texas. So it has a complicated primary system, so what?

    As for allocating more delegates to senate districts with more turnout, that makes sense: If more voters are expressing a desire by voting, they deserve more delegates.

    Let’s agree that nothing beats the stupidity of the U.S.’s winner-take-all electoral college, or the ridiculous imbalance in how much each vote in the U.S. counts.

    Consider this: In presidential elections, Wyoming gets 3 electoral votes; its population is about 520,000, so about 170,000 Wyoming residents are represented by each electoral vote.

    Now look at California. 55 electoral votes, 38,000,000 residents. It takes 680,000 California residents to make one electoral vote.

    So, while we’re splitting hairs about Texas’ delegate apportionment system, maybe we should be more worried that Wyoming voters count for 4 times as much as California voters.

    (Fill in your favorite small and large states, and the results are the same.)

  • Jim Jones

    I first heard about Clintons attempt at changing the delegate math at Senator Clinton is a Great politician and I applaud her for her efforts. But attempting to push the argument that the delegate math has changed prior to the rules committee convening on May 31st is a bit of a stretch. Even with Michigan and Florida seated she still loses. Its time to let it go…