A Vote-Delegate Texas Mismatch? Mixed Blessing for Obama
by markjay, Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 08:40:35 AM EST
I've seen a number of informative postings on MyDD and elsewhere about the complicated delegate allocation system in Texas. No delegates are allocates through the statewide primary results. Rather, 35% of pledged delegates are allocated by a caucus system and 65% of pledged delegates are allocated based on primary vote obtained in Texas's 31 State Senate Districts. What's more, the number of delegates allocated per senate district for both the primaries and the caucuses are dependent on how many people voted Democratic in that district in 2004, a formula that heavily favors African-American communities and will likely severely restrict the impact of the rapidly expanding Latino vote.
Does this system favor Obama or Clinton? Perhaps the answer is not as obvious as it seems.
Of course at one level, it heavily favors Obama. There seems little doubt that he will win pledged delegates in Texas that are disproportionate to his share of the primary vote. This will help him maintain his current lead in pledged delegates.
However, the Obama campaign is making a major push to argue that whoever wins the pledged delegates should win the nomination. If the super delegates vote counter to the pledged delegates, that would be going against the "will of the people," so the argument goes.
A major potential flaw in this argument is that the pledged delegate totals do not always reflect the will of the people. There is some evidence of discrepancies from earlier states, such as Nevada, but those received comparatively minor attention. In contrast, Texas is one of the largest states in the nation and the media will be paying very close attention to what takes place there on the crucial March 4 mini-Super Tuesday. Any substantial discrepancy between the primary results and the pledged delegate allocation will undoubtedly receive important media attention. Larger numbers of people will start to realize that the number of pledged delegates does not always reflect the will of the people.
Later, if and when super delegates tilt toward Clinton, and the Obama campaign accuses them of going against the will of the people as reflected by pledged delegates, they, and the Clinton campaign, will have an easy answer: what about Texas?
In other words, while Obama will be glad to get any kind of delegate advantage he can out of Texas, there are also political costs involved with winning delegates out or proportion to the primary vote. The 10-20 extra pledged delegates that Obama could squeeze out of Texas might weaken Obama's argument for winning over the 400+ super delegates who have not yet taken a stand.
For Obama to maintain his national momentum out of March 4, he needs to outright win the primary vote total in either Ohio or Texas. Similarly, if Clinton wins solid victories among the primary voters in both Ohio and Texas (and later Pennsylvania), that will strengthen her efforts at getting super delegates, no matter how the pledged delegates in Texas are divvied up.