Ed. note: To read Part 1 — which is a more general breakdown of the Texas delegate count — click here.
On March 4, the country will turn its eyes to Texas to see how we will vote in the Presidential Primary. Texas is allocated 228 delegates, but only 126 of those delegates will be decided on March 4. 35 are “super delegates” that are officially unpledged until the state convention, while the rest of 67 delegates are chosen by the Caucus system we have in place (which I explained yesterday – click here to read).
I'd like to emphasize that numbers are no substitute for passion: I'm not trying to predict anything, because you can't predict what will move any given voter, especially when there are two stellar candidates in our Democratic field. Who wins Texas will be decided by the campaigns themselves, and how well they connect with Texas Democratic voters. I'm just taking a look at what the Senate Districts that allocate the delegates look like, historically.
I made an Excel sheet from the stats provided by the Lone Star Project that shows how many of the 126 delegates are within each of the 31 Senate Districts. Click the link below to view the spreadsheet online:
Taking a Closer Look at the 31 Senate Districts in Texas
The above photo is courtesy of the Lone Star Project, whose research and work is what made it possible for me to do my analysis. They do incredible work there, and everyone who reads this really should donate a few dollars their way — we won't be able to turn Texas blue without them!
Of the 31 Senate Districts, the 4 largest in terms of delegates are:
- Senate District 14 (Austin) – 8 delegates. Home to the University of Texas at Austin and an enormous young, vibrant liberal community, as I explain below.
- Senate District 13 (Houston) – 7 delegates. Home to one of the largest African-American communities in the state and Senator Rodney Ellis, one of two African-Americans in the Texas Senate. Senator Obama is opening up a campaign office in the middle of this Senate District this Saturday.
- Senate District 23 (Dallas) – 6 delegates. Home to Texas' other African-American State Senator, Senator Royce West, this district contains inner-Dallas and has over 280,000 African-Americans and over 270,000 Hispanics, just in this single district.
- Senate District 25 (San Antonio) – 6 delegates. This contains southwest Austin, north San Antonio, and the rural country in-between (Guadalupe, Hays, Comal and Kendall). The only district with more than 6 delegates that has a Republican Senator.
Some general talking points, before we get too far into the details:
- The three biggest regions have 74 of the State's 126 Delegates — Houston-Galveston has 26 (shaded red above), North Texas has 26, which includes the Dallas – Fort Worth area (shaded yellow above), and the South and West Texas border region has 22 (shaded lime green above).
- Will grassroots efforts be able to overcome name ID in regards to the Latino vote?. Senator Clinton has tremendous amounts of much-deserved respect in the Texas Latino community. She's well loved by Latinos not b/c Latinos don't want to vote for Obama, but because she's done some terrific work for Latino communities. What's interesting is that while Senator Clinton has earned endorsements from some of Texas' Hispanic Congressmen and leaders (and will announce some more next week), I know of a handful of the traditional field directors and on-the-ground campaign staff for those Hispanic Congressmen that are actually working for Obama.
For example, Adrian Saenz is the Field Director for the Obama campaign. Adrian ran the successful upset campaign for Congressman Ciro Rodriguez over former Congressman Henry Bonilla. Many of those activists on the ground also worked a lot with State Rep. Juan Garcia of Corpus Christi (one of the most populated towns in the South Texas region), who is also supporting Senator Obama. Can the boots on the ground overcome the name on the ballot? I think that's the real question — not some ridiculous black vs. brown narrative — that we'll see played out in South Texas, and across the state, with the Latino vote. Let's hope the pundits realize that sooner rather than later.
- Just this past week on Feb. 4 — the last day to register to vote for the primary cycle — 4,500 voters were registered in Austin, including 2,600 in the two University of Texas campus locations (thanks in large part to efforts of Karl-Thomas Musselman, our site's publisher, and numerous BOR readers). One single voter registration drive on the UT campus registered 1,850 new voters (at the UT Co-op). Austin actually has more delegates (8) than all of Bexar County (which contains San Antonio), even though Austin has a much smaller population. Why?
Record number of new voters in Austin, who show up to the polls at much higher numbers than any other area of the state….more specifically, showed up to the polls in the 2004 and 2006 general elections from which the national delegate allotments are derived. In 2004, the highest turnout precinct in all of Travis County was on campus where Precinct 148 had 99.58% turnout (2,366 of 2,376 voters in the 2004 general).
Now, here's an analysis of each of the regions — and the Senate Districts within each region. The numbers I use are all sourced. I welcome any additional input from any experts in these regions and/or Senate Districts:Houston-Galveston Region (Red Area of Map) – 26 Delegates
- Senate District 13 – 7 Delegates
This is one of the must-follow districts in Texas. Of the 53,034 Democrats that voted in the 2004 Primary Election in Harris County (where Houston is located), 31,082 voted in Senate District 13. That's over 58% of the entire Democratic Harris County electorate.
Senate District 13 in Houston is, after Austin's SD 14, the single largest Senate District in the state of Texas — it will send 7 delegates to the national convention.
href="http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/members/dist13/dist13.htm">Senator Rodney Ellis— a prominent African-American legislator — has over 325,000 African Americans in his district alone (which makes up about half of the total population of his county). There's a reason Senator Obama is opening one of his 10 Texas offices right in the heart of this Senate district.
**2/8 Update**: I neglected to mention that this Senate District is also home to the Montrose community, one of the largest and most politically active LGBT communities in the country. Yet another reason to expect an incredible turnout here on March 4.
- Senate District 17 – 5 Delegates
This Senate District is represented by Republican Senator Kyle Janek. This takes the remainder of West Houston (approximately 234,000) and loops around to pick up a little more than 1/2 of Galveston, TX (a proud Democratic area) and Port Arthur, which rests along the LA border. Approximately 1/2 of the 700,000+ residents of this district are minority, including one of Texas' largest Asian populations. A large portion of the Hispanic community that lives here — which was approximately 159,000 large at the 2000 census — is immigrant.
- Senate District 11 – 4 Delegates.
Represented by Republican Senator Mike Jackson, this Senate District fills in the space between the first two we discussed, which means it is largely suburban and rural. This is the eastern part of what was Congressman Tom Delay's (now Congressman Nick Lampson's) district, and it is trending Democrat. On first blush, I'd expect Senator Clinton to do well here — though it will be difficult to move beyond a 2-2 split of delegates.
**2/8 Update**: Some more specific information on this district, from a longtime party activist:
SD 17 also has all of mainland Galveston Co. and some of the island (about 150,000 people). In addition to suburban, that means multiracial (black and Hispanic and Anglo) and heavily labor communities like Texas City and LaMarque full of refinery workers (like Pt Arthur)
- Senate District 15 – 4 Delegates
Senate District 6 – 3 Delegates
These two Senate Districts are represented by Senator John Whitmire (eastern Harris County) and Senator Mario Gallegos (north eastern Harris County), respectively — both Democrats. Each district had over 11,000 votes in the 2004 Democratic primary election, and each is over 2/3 minority majority.
- Senate District 7 – 3 Delegates
Republican Senator Dan Patrick — Texas' version of Rush Limbaugh — represents this area. I'm so disgusted by Senator Patrick, I'm not going to link to him or any of his pages. His district is the outer, northwest suburbs of Harris County — two-thirds of his district is considered rural. God bless the Democrats that can remain Democrats out here.
North Texas Region (Yellow Area of Map) – 26 Delegates
- Senate District 23 – 6 Delegates
As I wrote above, SD 23 is home to Texas State Senator, Senator Royce West. His district contains inner-Dallas and has over 280,000 African-Americans and over 270,000 Hispanics, just in this single district. During the 2006 election cycle, Dallas County turned blue, as Democrats swept 41 of 42 contested seats that cycle. I would expect to see record levels of turnout in SD 23 — one of the four key districts to watch.
- Senate District 10 – 5 Delegates
This district contains a lot of Tarrant County, where Texas Democrats recently won a landmark special election in the Texas House, putting Dan Barrett into a long-held Republican seat. This district is home to Senator Kim Brimer, who will face off in the general election against formidable Democratic challenger Wendy Davis. I mention these two races to illustrate to outsiders (1) how well-organized Tarrant County is, and (2) how strong the momentum is for Democrats in this area. I think this may be one of the “bellwether” districts for the state, based on the growing Democratic base and the demographics of the state.
- Senate District 8 – 4 Delegates
Home to Senator Florence Shapiro, SD 8 is most famous among Texans for the suburban Dallas community, Farmers Branch. Farmers Branch has recently tried to pass an ordinance to stop “illegal” immigrants from renting houses. I wouldn't be surprised to pick up the Dallas Morning News and read that Farmers Branch City Council traveled as a a lynch mob to the homes of suspected “illegal” immigrants around the city.
All this is by way of saying that immigration will undoubtedly, absolutely, play a major role in the Democratic primary for this Senate District — as it will through most of North Texas.
- Senate District 12 – 4 Delegates
This district contains northern Tarrant County, along with a lot of Denton County. For outsiders, think of this area as north suburban Dallas — a relatively wealthy, Anglo part of Texas. I guarantee you that Dolly Parton's song, “9 to 5″ is playing in at least 3 jukeboxes in this Senate District as you read this right now.
- Senate District 16 – 4 Delegates
The 2000 census showed over 186,000 Hispanics living in this district — as I said before, North Texas has more Hispanics than South Texas. However, the average house in the district is valued at over $197,000 in 2000 (almost twice the state average). I'd be shocked if this district didn't split 2-2 between Senators Clinton and Obama.
- Senate District 9 – 3 Delegates
Home to Grand Prairie, TX and another sizable Hispanic population (over 166,000), Grand Prairie is like most of the other suburban Dallas communities — largely conservative.
South Texas, Border Region (Lime Green Area of Map) – 22 Delegates
Latinos turned out in record numbers in California. Will the same happen in Texas? Texas Hispanics (of which I am one) have not been reliable for big-name races — they are much more likely to turn out in large numbers for local primary races, of which there are some in key areas of the Valley and in El Paso. South Texas, Laredo, and El Paso will all be — along with the Houston, Dallas, and Austin regions — key to the race for Texas.
- Senate District 19 – 4 Delegates
This Senate District mirrors, almost exactly, Congressman Ciro Rodriguez's congressional district. As I mentioned above, Congressman Rodriguez's former Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager, Adrian Saenz, is running the field program from Senator Obama. Will that be enough to cut into Senator Clinton's tremendous name ID in the Latino community?
- Senate District 20- – 4 Delegates
This district stretches from Corpus Christi — along the middle of the Texas coast, north of South Padre Island — back inland and then cuts straight down to the border. The South Texas towns of Edinburg and McAllen have very machine-driven politics. There are three Democratic State House Members from Corpus Christi — Democrats Rep. Abel Herrero (Clinton), Rep. Solomon Ortiz Jr. (Clinton I'd assume — his father, Congressman Ortiz, is one of Clinton's largest supporters), and Rep. Juan Garcia (a former classmate of Obama's). Congressman Ortiz is likely to have some big sway in the Corpus area. I'd suspect that Senator Clinton will perform very well in this district.
- Senate District 21 – 4 Delegates
This district contains the “middle” part of South Texas, including the largely populated town of Laredo (which is not in the Valley). Over 2/3 Hispanic (as is true for most of these South Texas districts), there are no hotly contested primaries in this area of the state, which makes me question if the Presidential race will be enough to drive voters to the polls — especially in an area of Texas where, other than Laredo, there are no big cities and is often “flown over” on the way through the valley by many statewide campaigns.
**2/8 Update**: A friend of mine who knows more than me about this race sent me an e-mail challenging my statement that there were no hotly contested primaries in this district. From his e-mail:
There are several hot primaries in Webb County which may drive turn-out. There is a white hot sheriff's race with about two million candidates (not an open seat, but apparently there is dissatisfaction with the incumbent), and a DA's race, both obviously county-wide. I think turn-out might be significant there.
- Senate District 26 – 4 Delegates
This district is wholly within San Antonio, and State Senator Leticia Van de Putte — who gave the Democrats' Spanish-language answer to the State of the Union — is a true and wonderful force to be reckoned with. However, she's co-chair of the Democratic National Convention, so I'd be surprised if she endorsed. One other note — over 1,000 Bexar County residents (where San Antonio is located) were so excited to vote, that on Feb. 5 (Super Tuesday) they were calling the county to see where to vote. So yes — turnout will be very, very high in this area of the state.
- Senate District 27 – 3 Delegates
The true “Valley” Senate District, there is contested Democratic primary in the Texas House race that will help drive local turnout. I would expect there to be huge turnout in this area of the state — though with only 3 delegates to split, there's not too much ground to gain for either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama here.
- Senate District 29 – 3 Delegates
El Paso, TX. There are several colleges in the area — including the University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College — that could likely help drive young voters for Obama. I'd bet that Obama could fill the Sun Bowl if he visited there, in fact. Well over 2/3 of residents are Hispanics.
**2/8 Update**: I have learned a lot more about endorsements since this initial post. State Senator Eliot Shapleigh and Congressman Silvestre Reyes endorsed Clinton, and she is supposed to be well favored there. There is also an 11-person Democratic primary for Sheriff that will help drive turnout.
East Texas Region (Light Purple Area of Map) – 16 Delegates
This area of the state is 100% good old-fashioned retail politics. I think we'll learn a lot about what to expect in these four Senate Districts after Louisiana votes tomorrow (Feb. 9). Both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama have something going their way, though:
Geography will help Senator Clinton. These districts are basically extensions of Western Louisiana and Arkansas, and we know how well Senator Clinton did in Arkansas already. Having spent my first two years at the State Capitol working for a State Representative from these parts, I can also tell you that a lot of East Texas women are going to want to cast their ballots for Senator Clinton.
That being said, there is a sizable African-American population in each of these districts, and African-Americans normally turn out very, very well in East Texas. Senator Obama could benefit from that just like he benefited in Alabama. He also showed he did well with white males in very rural areas, of which there are certainly plenty out there in East Texas. But there aren't any colleges in these districts, so not a very sustainable young vote for their movement.
Anything can happen in a month, but if Senator Clinton were to pick up 3-1 in any of the 4-delegate Senate Districts in Texas, I actually think she has her best chance in this region — even more so than in South Texas.
- Senate District 1 – 4 Delegates
The northeastern corner of the state, includes Texarkana, Longview, and most of Tyler. Right along the border with southern Arkansas. Vince Leibowitz — one of our writers and the owner of Capitol Annex — sent an e-mail to me once I'd put this up to add:
This senate district also includes Marshall and some very red counties, including Wood County, where Democratic primary voter turnout is historically low. Harrison County (Marshall), on the Louisiana border, will be another place where Obama has a chance to score big due to the large minority population. However, look for Clinton to take counties like Wood and Titus. Tyler also includes a large minority population, but that is in SD 2, so look for Clinton to do well in the Smith County portions of the district. Lamar County will likely go narrowly for Clinton, but if voter turnout is high among Paris' African American populations, the county could be narrow or go for Obama. Look for Gregg County to also go for Obama, but the majority of the rural counties in the district will likely be Clinton counties, unless heavy minority GOTV efforts are made on Obama's behalf. Even then, it could be difficult to overcome Clinton's likely lead.
- Senate District 2 – 4 Delegates
This Senate District actually pulls the eastern suburbs of the city of Dallas, and is approximately 30% minority. Largely rural, I wouldn't be surprised if Senator Obama performed well in East Dallas (where most of the Democratic votes are) and exceeded the vote totals for Senator Clinton in this district.
Again, Vince — who lives in East Texas — adds:
Look for Clinton to do better in Rural counties like Van Zandt, but Kaufman, with a large minority population in Terrell, will run close between Clinton and Obama, but Obama has the advantage here. SD 2 includes North Tyler (Smith County), which is a Democratic stronghold and minority area and will probably go large for Obama. Hunt County, also in this district, will probably be a tough call and split near 50-50, as it has a large college population with Texas A&M University-Commerce, but also features large minority populations in Greenville, Neylandville, and Commerce. Rockwall County, the next most populous county in the district (and one of the fastest growing regions of the nation) will likely go for Clinton. Expect Hopkins County to be a close call between Clinton and Obama.
- Senate District 3 – 4 Delegates
This large, sprawling, rural East Texas district runs along the Louisiana border inland, north of Houston and far Southeast of Dallas. Texas Democrats in this region are well-organized due to a number of moderate Texas Democrats that have been elected to the Texas House, but most of those elected officials were strongly behind Senator John Edwards. Since Edwards is still on the ballot, I actually wouldn't be surprised if he got still got 5-10% of the vote in this area of the state.
- Senate District 4 – 4 Delegates
This district runs from the southeast corner of the state (Beaumont) inland towards the eastern border of Harris County (where Houston is). Lots of oil and refineries in this region — huge numbers of working class people.
Hill Country – Central Region (Orange Area of Map) – 12 Delegates
This is the beginning of Texas' farm country — not quite as flat as deep West Texas, but still sprawled out, where there's a town square in every county. In not all of the small towns in this area, but in a lot, there is a traditional Main Street that has an antique shopping district. Normally if you go on the other side of the inevitable train tracks in town, you can find some excellent BBQ. Its an independent-minded area, largely Anglo, that loves state parks, clean air, and education.
- Senate District 25 – 6 Delegates
As I wrote atop this post, this district contains southwest Austin, north San Antonio, and the rural country in-between (Guadalupe, Hays, Comal and Kendall). The only district with more than 6 delegates that has a Republican Senator, I'd imagine Senator Clinton will perform well in the southwest Austin portion, where a number of incredible local Democratic women's groups are likely to work hard for her on the ground.
**2/8 Update**: After the precincts around the UT campus in Austin, this district is home to the highest voting precincts — Zilker, Bouldin St., and Travis Heights — in Travis County. My fellow Austinites that live their are very independent-minded and vote in strong numbers.
- Senate District 22 – 3 Delegates
Large numbers of people in this district have been organized over the past few years in Texas around two key issues: transportation and clean air. Specifically, these rural farmers and residents have protested the construction of the Trans-Texas Corridor (a massive toll road project that would put roads through millions of acres of Texas farmland), and the potential construction of new coal-fired power plants. Democratic Congressman Chet Edwards represents Waco, Texas A&M, and Crawford,TX in this part of the world — and that's exactly the type of Democrat that lives in these areas: practical and independent. Party doesn't matter so long as you get the work done, and get it done right.
- Senate District 24 – 3 Delegates
The largest “farming” Senate District in the region, this is a very, very rural group of counties that best fits the opening description I made in this region. Abilene, TX — which is in the northwest corner of the district — is a largely old-fashioned town, and I can imagine Senator Clinton performing well there. But there are lots of very progressive community activists in the small towns throughout these counties, and they are the ones likely to vote, remind each and every one of their friends to vote, and stick around for precinct conventions after its all done. Whichever campaign can connect with those local activists will carry this district.
West Texas Region (Blue Area of Map) – 8 Delegates
It is very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. Huge, wide open spaces broken up only by small roads dividing the farmland. A very conservative area of the state with not a lot of big towns, I can't imagine either of the candidates spending too much time in this area of the state — especially considering the small number of delegates. There are a handful of counties that may not even have a Democratic County Chair, in fact. Since I don't have any particularly good insights about this region, I'm going to provide links so those who wish may look up more on their own:
- Senate District 28 – 3 Delegates. District Map. Minority Population Analysis. Population and Household Profile.
- Senate District 30 – 3 Delegates. District Map. Minority Population Analysis. Population and Household Profile.
- Senate District 31 – 2 Delegates. District Map. Minority Population Analysis. Population and Household Profile.
East-Central Region (Brown Area of Map) – 8 Delegates
- Senate District 5 – 4 Delegates
Senator Obama and Senator Clinton both could perform strongly in this district. This district stretches from the northern parts of the Greater Austin area up and to the east, all the way to College Station and Texas A&M University. The northern-Austin portion is a healthy mix of families for whom universal health care is more than likely their top issue — the Round Rock and Georgetown communities, both, are filled with suburban subdivisions where the “soccer mom” vote reigns supreme. Though the Aggies are inferior to the Longhorns in most every way, there is a good student-based group at A&M. It'll be interesting to see how well they organize in that rather conservative part of Texas.
- Senate District 18 – 4 Delegates.
This district covers the area between Austin and Houston and sweeps down towards Corpus Christi. It has a very large Hispanic population — over 180,000 total — based largely in the Fort Bend area (Tom Delay's old district). Very working class, mixed with lots of farm and ranch land, and then (in the Fort Bend area) a more traditional suburban community.
Austin Region (Light Blue Area of Map) – 8 Delegates
- Senate District 14 – 8 Delegates.
I wrote most of what I wanted to write about Austin at the top of this post. Austin and the majority of Travis County is at the center of Texas politics, and Senator Obama hosted a 20,000 person rally on Auditorium Shores in Austin over a year ago. He has a very, very fervent base of supporters in Austin — my hometown — especially when you consider the large quantities of new voters that have recently registered around campus. Additionally, a Democratic Primary race in East Austin that is trying to oust the only African-American Democrat in the Texas House from Central Texas is underway — and Senator Obama (and Rep. Dukes) both stand to gain well from each other's presence on the ballot.
I appreciate the help I received writing this post, and I encourage everyone to check back over the coming weeks, add more notes in the comments, and please feel free to ask questions.