First, a hat-tip to R.G. Ratcliffe at the Houston Chronicle who has the entire data set posted from which this post draws. Read the original post here. The poll was commissioned by the Texas Credit Union League, conducted Feb 11-13, with a MOE of +/- 4.9%.
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY (Latest IVR Poll 1/31)
Hillary Clinton: 49 (48)
Barack Obama: 41 (38)
Undecided: 8 (10)
John McCain: 45 (43)
Mike Huckabee: 41 (33)
Undecided: 5 (13)
And now for the interesting sub-groups and my analysis. It's here that we find something very surprising!
Even though Clinton leads by 8 points in polling statewide, based upon the following sub-samples, Obama would still come out with a delegate lead.
And that's just among delegates allocated by the primary, not our additional caucus process which Obama has proven deft at winning delegates through.
I'm not kidding, follow me below...
Clinton also enjoys majority support in the South (57%) and Western (61%) regions of the state, and edges ahead in the Eastern part of the state 46% to 40%. Obama is beating Clinton 53% to 32% in the Central region and leads 49% to 44% in the Houston area. The Dallas Fort-Worth region is tied within margin of error (Clinton 42%, Obama 41%).
This section is the most critical when talking about the allocation of national delegates. (For more background as to why, read our two part guide.) While the regions are not defined by Senate District, I'm going to do my best to match them and show what these margins might result in delegate allocation wise. Please refer to this district map and this delegate spreadsheet if you want to follow along.
Region (net delegate gain)
South (57% Clinton, +1 net Clinton)
In order for Clinton to break any 4 delegate border districts, she needs over 62.5% of the vote. Absent that, all three (or four) of these districts are a wash. Right now, all she'd pick up is the odd 3rd delegate in SD-27 (Lucio).
West (61% Clinton, +3 net Clinton)
Again, Clinton faces the same 62.5% issue but the districts are sparse out here. SD-31 only has 2 delegates which will split no matter what. SD-19 has 4 and won't break unless she gets higher and might have even been included in the 'southern' sample because of its anchor San Antonio which was worse for Clinton. That leaves El Paso and the Panhandle with the three 3 delegate districts which only require 51% to get the odd delegate. Racking up the vote in this region doesn't benefit Clinton much once she passes a simple majority, and in this poll, it's her best region.
Eastern (46% Clinton-40% Obama, +/- 0 net)
Now, while this isn't showing anyone over 50%, I believe the delegate match works based upon the split of the viable vote, I'll have to check. Regardless, it doesn't make a lick of difference in this case for East Texas. SD's 1, 2, 3, & 4 are ALL 4 delegate districts that require the 62.5% supermajority to break the tied allocation. Parts of SD-5 could be in this pool, but guess what- it's an even 4 delegate district, too. Hillary sending Bill Clinton through this region needs to ramp up her vote totals by about 15 points before she squeezes any juice out of east Texas. If not, all for nothing.
Central (53% Obama - 32% Clinton, +6 Obama)
The margins here are critical. Looking at these numbers, there is about 15% undecided floating around. If they split evenly along existing proportions, that would put Obama right on the 62.5% line to break 4 delegate districts into 3-1 advantages. Anchored by SD-14 in Austin, Obama can conservatively expect a 5-3 split if he gets over 56.25% and I have no doubt this poll undersamples Obama's college turnout which is highly concentrated here. He'll be able to pick up the odd 3rd delegates in SD-22 & SD-24 with even a simple majority lead. Williamson County north of Austin anchors SD-5 so it's possible Obama could force that 3-1, but I'll leave it tied for now. SD-18 goes east and south so I'm going to leave that 4 delegate district in the split category. SD-25 runs down to San Antonio and has 6 delegates, and the threshold is only 58.3% to break it to 4-2. Keep in mind that an effective college operation at Texas State could help ensure this breaks 4-2 for Obama.
Houston (49% Obama - 44% Clinton, +2 Obama)
Again, if the undecided vote is in the same proportion, Obama would take a 52% simply majority. This is hard to allocate simply because the Houston area is so diverse and the general number is certainly highly weighted by local variances. Four of the six districts here have odd amounts. Based on this, Obama would easily win 4-3 in SD-13 (Ellis who supports Obama) which is African American. He'd need 64% to make this 5-2 and with the support of the district's Senator actively working for him, likely will get there by election day. SD 17 has 5 delegates so as long as Obama leads, he wins the odd delegate. SD's 11 & 15 are both even 4 delegate districts so they are a wash either way if it's close. SD-6 (Gallegos) is a 3 delegate district but Hispanic, so we'll assume this is Clinton's support in the Houston sample and break it 2-1 for her. SD-7 (Patrick) is Anglo so it's 2-1 Obama if he has 1 more vote than Clinton.
Dallas/Ft. Worth (42% Clinton - 41% Obama, +2 Obama )
There are 26 delegates at stake here. Problem is, 18 of them are in even numbered districts, three of which are going to split 2-2. The one that is 6 delegates is SD-23 (West who supports Obama) which is the African American district. Obama needs only 58% to make that a 4-2 split and given the size of the metro area, I'm reasonably confident in asserting that portion of this area's sample includes enough support from SD-23 to do that. That leaves SD-10 (Brimer) and SD-9 (Harris) to whomever wins the simple majority. Obama could do well in SD-9 which include the mid-cities and home to lots of independents but I don't feel comfortable assigning either of these. So lets just assume they break 2-1 for either candidate an cancel each other out for now.
Total (49% Clinton - 41% Obama, +6 net Obama delegates!)
Whoa is right. Now for the rest of the numbers.
Clinton also enjoys a slight edge in the image ratings. Three-quarters (75%) of Democratic primary voters have a favorable opinion of her (48% strongly favorable), and 23% unfavorable; while 71% have a favorable image of Obama (41% strongly favorable), and 24% unfavorable.
It's good to see the vast majority of the primary electorate views both candidates so approvingly.
Those who plan on voting early are tilting towards Obama (46% to 42%) while Clinton leads 51% to 40% among voters who are waiting until Election Day to cast their vote.
This is really curious to me as I've never seen this type of split polled before. If I were to choose leading one group over the other, I'd take the early vote as once those votes are cast, they can't change. That's good for Obama, given the fact that it was the early vote in California and other Super Tuesday states that really killed his margins. About 40% of Texas' vote will likely be cast early if past patterns hold (though some urban metros like Austin have had as high as 60% vast early in recent elections). The challenge is then to get early voters to find their precinct polling locations on Election Day at 7:15 PM if they are going to come back to caucus.
Clinton's coalition is comprised of Hispanics, women, and strong Democrats, while Obama's support is coming primarily from African Americans, independents, men, and higher income households.
None of this is particularly surprising as we've seen this pattern develop in exit polling from many states in the last 2 weeks. There are far more detailed breakouts in RG's post so check them out.