A Vote-Delegate Texas Mismatch? Mixed Blessing for Obama

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.

Tags: 2008 elections, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (all tags)

Comments

6 Comments

Re: A Vote-Delegate Texas Mismatch?

I agree that with a win in Texas, Obama would end the Clinton campaign.

by bigdcdem 2008-02-14 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: A Vote-Delegate Texas Mismatch? Mixed Blessing

I think the ethnic split plays to Obama's favor.  Hispanics and Blacks each represent about 25% of the vote.  Even if Hillary manages to do as well as she did in California, something she hasn't replicated in the other states, that still gets her only about 65% of that 25%.  If they split the white vote and Obama's showings in Colorado, Idaho, Eastern Washington, and New Mexico show he can, then a 80% win among blacks could comfortably put him over the top.  Also the proportion of delegates in the largely Hispanic areas Clinton has been concentrating on, is less than other parts of the State.  This could be a rough State for Clinton to win and perhaps near impossible for her to win substantially.

by Piuma 2008-02-14 09:08AM | 0 recs
I think you're wrong...

Here's why:  

You can call the Democratic primary process convoluted, undemocratic, whatever you like, but Obama's doing a pretty good job of winning under the metrics that were set out by the DNC at the start of the campaign.  The popular vote doesn't enter into these metrics.  

While not as convoluted, the general election is also not a popular vote system.  And unlike the primaries, there's no super-delegates which can give you a "fudge factor" if things aren't going your way by the official count.

So, simply put, the candidate who's best at securing pledged delegates seems the most likely candidate to squeeze out electoral votes as well.  

by telephasic 2008-02-14 09:42AM | 0 recs
Re: I think you're wrong...

The general election is nothing like the allocation of delegates in the primaries. The GE is winner take all per state. You cannot make any inference about the GE from the wacky semi-proportional allocation of delegates during the primaries.

by LakersFan 2008-02-14 10:38AM | 0 recs
Pledged delegates matter most because that will

determine whether Hillary's "victories" in Michigan and Florida count.

At this point, it looks like Obama has a lock on the pledged delegates, so hopefully that will settle the issue of FL and MI, and it will only come down to him winning enough superdelegates to hold her back.

My hope is that the superdelegates from all of the red and/or small states that Obama has been winning will fall in line behind him.

by verasoie 2008-02-14 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: A Vote-Delegate Texas Mismatch? Mixed Blessing

does anyone know how much of the hispanic population in texas is illegal?

that could seriously sway the results

by Lazeriath 2008-02-14 02:22PM | 0 recs

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