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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Texas Curveball

With Super Tuesday having slipped into Sleep-Deprived Wednesday, everyone is pointing to March 4th as the next big Democratic president contest. Vermont, Rhode Island, Texas, and Ohio are all up for grabs for a total of 370 pledged delegates.
The conventional wisdom says that Ohio and Texas are Hillary’s to lose. In Ohio, she’s got a lot of establishment support, including the endorsement from Gov. Ted Strickland. In Texas, the large number of Latino voters seems to give her a demographic edge.
However, as Ben Smith of the Politico mentioned after an Obama campaign conference call this morning, Texas isn’t a conventional primary:

It’s a mixed primary and caucus system, with two-thirds of the delegates awarded through primaries and a third through caucuses open only to primary voters.

In a moment of masochism, I pulled up the rules for the Texas nominating process. The two campaigns will be competing for delegates in 31 senatorial districts. There’s a formula for determining how those delegates are appropriated that gives equal weight to the district’s performance in the last governor’s race and presidential election:

Let P equal a given district’s percentage of the statewide Democratic vote in the last gubernatorial election, and let V equal that district’s percentage of the total statewide vote for the Democratic nominee in the last presidential election (district vote/state vote). ( P + V) divided by 2 = that district’s percentage of the total number of Delegates to be elected by the senatorial districts, as opposed to the number to be elected at-large..

That makes up 2/3rds of the pledged delegates. The rest are at-large, assigned through a caucus vote with its own set of procedures.
Obviously, Texas Democrats have a particularly complicated procedure for distributing their delegates, which lends itself to intensive organization. That’s always been on Obama strength, and last night, he absolutely dominated caucus elections — winning Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota. His margins overall were better than 2-1.
That sets up an interesting test in TX between Obama’s organizational strength and one of HRC’s most important demographic advantages. That’s yet another thing to watch as this amazingly close competiiton moves on to the next stage.

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