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Everything You Need To Know About the Texas Delegate Process, Part 1


by: Phillip Martin

Fri Feb 08, 2008 at 09:36 AM CST


First and foremost, I want to thank the Lone Star Project for their incredible report and analysis. Without their numbers, we'd be starting from scratch. For those who may not be familiar with the Lone Star Project, they are one of the best research-based groups in the country. Their research on the Texas Congressional Redistricting fiasco, for example, informed every media story you ever read about Tom Delay's insane power grab into the Republican-run Texas Legislature. So hat's off to them -- and feel free to drop them some change if you'd like.

With that out of the way, here's how it all breaks down:

How Texas' 228 Delegates are Allocated

Texas has a mixed primary-caucus way of selecting delegates, in addition to "super delegates" -- but the process works well because it rewards the candidate that gets voters to the polls on election day.

  • 193 "pledged" delegates decided by the primary-caucus system
  • 35 "unpledged" or "super" delegates

The "super" delegates are self explanatory -- so let's see if we can't help you make sense of the primary-caucus mix of "pledged" delegates. Again, thanks to the Lone Star Project for doing a lot of our work for us.

How Texas' 193 "Pledged" Delegates Are Allocated -- Primary/Caucus Hybrid

  • 126 delegates are "primary-chosen" delegates, allocated based on the results of votes cast on March 4. The 126 delegates that are allocated by the "regular" primary system will be the only ones that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama can add to their tally after March 4. These 126 delegates are divided based on the voting strength of each candidate in the 31 State Senate Districts across Texas.

    Later today, I will have an exhaustively extensive post that looks at each of those 31 State Senate Districts to try and see where either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama may hope to play strongly.

  • 67 delegates are "caucus-chosen" delegates, allocated at the state convention.
Overall, the vast majority of delegates that can be won in Texas are based on the voting totals -- because the "caucus-chosen" delegates are only assigned based on who shows up to the local precinct conventions the day of the election. We explain below.

An Explanation of the 67 "Caucus-Chosen" Delegates

There is a four-page document provided by the Texas Democratic Party that explains how the 67 "caucus-chosen" delegates are picked and allocated. If you really, really want to know how this works, you can read it by clicking here. Here's the most important points, though:

  • This process rewards whichever candidate organizes its voters to attend the precinct conventions after the polls close.
  • Delegates that work their way through the precinct and county/district conventions are free to switch their candidate support at any time until the state convention -- but normally (and especially if the race is still undecided at the time of the state convention in June) -- delegates won't switch.
Here, now -- for those true political junkies out there -- is a summary of how the Texas caucus system works:
  • 42 at-Large delegates allocated by the "caucus" system. The allocation of these 42 delegates (by candidate preference) is based on the presidential preference expressed state convention delegates (who are chosen at their precinct and county conventions) when they sign in at the state convention June 6.

    Let's do an example: 100 people attend a precinct convention (which is held 15 minutes after the polls close). 80 of those attending the precinct convention support Obama, and 20 support Clinton.  Let's assume your precinct gets to select 5 delegates to the County Convention. 4 of those Delegates would be "pledged" to Obama, and 1 would be "pledged" to Clinton. Those 5 people go to the County Convention.

    At the County Convention, the same process is repeated. Let's say there are 100 people at the County Convention -- these are the 100 delegates that were chosen at all of the precinct conventions around the County. At the County Convention, let's say 75 are "Obama precinct convention" delegates and 25 are "Clinton precinct convention" delegates. Based on the county strength -- the percentage of statewide Democratic votes that came from your county -- let's say your County gets to send 4 delegates to the State Convention. 3 of those delegates would be "pledged" to Obama, and 1 would be "pledged" to Clinton.

    The identical process is followed at the State convention. Let's say 100 delegates go to the State Convention -- these are the 100 delegates that were chosen to represent their candidate at the County Convention. Of these 100 delegates at the State Convention, 66 (2/3) vote for Obama and 34 (1/3) vote for Clinton. The 42 at-large delegates are split along this percentage division -- so Obama would have an additional 28 delegates (2/3 of 42) attend the DNC Convention, while Clinton would have 14 delegates (1/3 of 42) attend the DNC Convention.

    I grossly under-represented the numbers at every convention level for illustrative purposes; if you can follow this logic (and I've tried as best I could to help you), you'll understand the main point: this process awards whichever campaign has the best grassroots effort to get their voters to stay after the polls close and attend the precinct convention. This is truly a process where the numbers build up -- and yes, it's crazy. But we're Texas -- what would we be if we weren't at least a little crazy.

  • Also, 25 pledged "super delegates" allocated by the caucus system. The 25 pledged "party delegates" are party leaders, Democratic Mayors and Legislators. They are all allocated along the same lines as the delegates attending the State convention. Using the 2/3 to 1/3 split I described above, 17 of the 25 delegates (2/3) would be for Obama, and 8 delegates (1/3) would be for Clinton. As a note, only a candidate receiving a 15 percent threshold may receive votes.

A Look Back: An Overview of Where Those 228 Delegates Come From

  • 126 "primary-chosen" delegates, allocated based on the results of votes cast on March 4.
  • 42 at-large, "caucus-chosen" delegates that come up through the primary and county convention.
  • 25 pledged "party delegates" allocated by the presidential preference of delegates attending the State convention.
  • 35 unpledged "super delegates"

I love Texas. If you enjoyed that, be sure to read my detailed analysis of how the 128 Senate District delegates could vote later today.

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great job phillip (0.00 / 0)
numbers make my head spin, so thank you for breaking it down.  i added a link to this in my post over at dkos:
http://www.burntorangereport.c...

Fudd's first law of opposition: Push something hard enough and it will fall over.

Thanky you Phillip (0.00 / 0)
We need all the information we can get.

Here's a link to a new wiki web site for Super Delegates.  It's a list of all the super delegates across the country.

www.superdelegates.org

It even has a google earth map showing where the delegates are from.  


well done (0.00 / 0)
Great analysis

Great job (0.00 / 0)
I especially had gotten confused earlier on my blog and elsewhere and didn't remember from four years ago how the Senate District delegates were allocated at the convention.  

In Top 5 on Google for Liberal News

Easter Lemming Liberal News


None Statewide On March 4th? (0.00 / 0)
     Just so I'm clear on this, none of the delegates are awarded to the statewide winner of the primary? They're all allocated either by the primary results by State Senate district or as a result of the caucuses by the state convention in June?

Correct (0.00 / 0)
We don't have any delegates "set aside" for a statewide win.  

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (0.00 / 0)
     I appreciate your reply.
    This site is a great resource. I wish everyone who's bloviating on television about the possibility of a big Clinton win in Texas delegates would read your work.

[ Parent ]
We try... (0.00 / 0)
KT has done a great analysis, today, of some newest poll numbers. Be sure to check it out, too!

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Math trouble (0.00 / 0)
Looking at the summary section and the paragraph immediately above.  In the paragraph above, you say, "25 pledged 'super delegates'".  I think you meant "25 pledged 'party delegates'".  That would be consistent with the following section.

But then I'm left wondering where the 35 super delegates come from.


There are 35 superdelegates... (0.00 / 0)
...that are traditional party leaders, Congress members, etc. There's a list I've made here.

The 25 "pledged party delegates" are nominated at the State Convention. These delegates have to vote on the same division as those delegates at the convention, but they don't have to come up through the precinct caucuses. Many times, these are State Reps. and other party leaders that are not an "official super delegate" but are recognized -- through the nomination process -- to be an official delegate. It's another honorary way to recognize devoted party members, while ensuring they vote the way those who went through the process want them to vote.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.


[ Parent ]
how to call Texas (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for your work. Having read this and other posts, I'm wondering what we should be looking for as the news orgs start to report TX results on the night of Mar 4. For the sake of argument, let's say the primary vote is close. From what you've written here, that doesn't tell us much about how the precinct convention/caucus will turn out. Is that right? Should we be skeptical of reports that try to extrapolate how many "caucus-chosen" delegates will go to each candidate based on the primary vote? Should we expect TX to be called that night?  

Part of TX will be called that nigth (0.00 / 0)
The 126 delegates can be called that night. The Secretary of State will be reporting results based on Senate Districts, so we should be able to figure out the "primary-chosen" delegates relatively quickly.

Honestly, there is no way to figure out the "caucus-chosen" delegates until the primary convention / caucuses are complete, and numbers can be reported as to how many delegates etc. come out of that process. I'm sure we won't know that number on election night...but it is, as I've argued elsewhere, very likely that Senator Obama benefits well from the "caucus-chosen" portion.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.


[ Parent ]
They'll call Texas... (0.00 / 0)
on the basis of the primary.  The whole "Winning a state" concept hasn't meant much in most of the other states either when asking about delegates.  Look at the disconnect between popular vote (if you can call it that in a caucus) and delegate count in Nevada.  Or New Hampshire or Iowa.

Also, the fact that you have to vote in the primary to be able to vote in the caucus means that we will know the "popular vote" based on the primary results.  The caucusers will not add to the number of people who voted.


[ Parent ]
How long do caucuses last? (0.00 / 0)
That is, if I'm trying to get friends and/or neighbors to attend the precinct caucuses to vote again for their presidential candidate, how long would they have to stay (if they're not interested in hanging around to vote on resolutions and such)?  Can they just register their preference and leave or do they have to wait until the delegates are elected?

Good question (0.00 / 0)
I'd contact the State Party, or perhaps your County Party, for that. I'd imagine it would take some time.

I went two years ago, and it lasted maybe 45 minutes or so. I'd imagine it would last longer now, but it all depends on how well organized your precinct is -- which is part of why Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are training precinct captains across the state.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.


[ Parent ]
Excellent post! Great Info! (5.00 / 1)
This is the best description of our kooky process I've seen.  Thanks for putting it together.

The cascading percentages sounds like it could have some interesting effects.  It looks like the math is designed to filter out heavy but closely concentrated support.  For example, if there is a hypothetical candidate (let's call him Mr. O) that has strong support on college campuses and another hypothetical candidate (let's call her Ms. C) that has strong support in more working class and family-neighborhood areas of town.  If Mr. O's support is concentrated in a zone around the campus then it could easily be overwhelmed by other precincts around town even if they don't have as high a turnout or as decisive a victory.  

Taking it out of the hypothetical: If Obama's support in Austin is very heavy around the campus, but less so in East Austin, South Austin, and North Austin precincts, then that very heavy support will get compressed into a smaller number of precinct delegates than if it was spread out around the town.  A thousand people in one precinct could be represented by 4 delegates while a hundred people in another precinct might be represented by 3 delegates.  At the next level, a delegate is a delegate, regardless of how many voters it represented.

Obama has had great success in caucuses, but very poor success in primaries in larger states and in polling places with larger numbers of voters.  Hillary has done better where there were more voters overall and where the voter-to-delegate ratio has been higher (whether primary or caucus).  All of that is true in Texas.

There are so many variables at play that I don't think anyone will even be able to figure out what the count is afterward, much less guess how it will go beforehand.  But we won't stop making predictions that our candidate will win...that's what makes it exciting and keeps us interested.


Outstanding (0.00 / 0)
I'm sorry i have just discovered your site. But happy that I finally have too.

anyway I wanted to thank you. I look forward to reading your analysis of the SD conventions.

Mrmusicpublihser


forklift (0.00 / 0)
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manufacturer and exporter of quality & friendly priced forklift manufacturer from China as.
Tong Li Forklift Truck Co., Ltd n owned land of 60, 000 square meters, Tong Li uses advanced production tools, which

include laser cutting machine, CNC plasma cutting machine, CNC bending machine, welding machine, large hydraulic

press, automated painting line, vehicle assembly line and key components production line. The annual production

capacity is 15,000 sets.


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