Texas Democratic primary and caucuses, 2008

The 2008 Texas Democratic primary and caucuses were a series of events designed to determine the delegates that the Texas Democratic Party will send to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Delegates are selected using results from two sources: the Texas Presidential Primary held on March 4 by the Secretary of State of Texas's office, and a series of caucus events held between March 4 and June 7 by the Texas Democratic Party. The indecisive results of Super Tuesday, and the fact that Texas had the largest number of delegates among the states remaining on the Democratic primary calendar, resulted in the Texas primary receiving significant attention from both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns. [ [http://blog.texansforobama.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=751 Texans For Obama - Barack Obama in '08.:: There is No Such Thing as the Texas Primary Part II: Delegate Projections ] ] [ [http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/localnews/columnists/gjeffers/stories/021308dnmetjeffers.2743f21.html Clinton-Obama primary battle a Texas toss-up | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Columnist Gromer Jeffers Jr. | Dallas-Fort Worth News ] ] [ [http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/texas_84273___article.html/delegates_clinton.html Local: South Texas critical to Democratic presidential nomination | texas, delegates, clinton : Brownsville Herald ] ] [ [http://capitolannex.com/2008/02/11/texas-presidential-primary-round-up-february-11-2008/ Texas Presidential Primary Round-Up: February 11, 2008 — Capitol Annex ] ] [ [http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/02/17/0217texpres.html Clinton, Obama poised to pour attention into Texas ] ]

Of 12,752,417 registered voters, 22.49% turned out. [cite web |url=http://enr.sos.state.tx.us/enr/mar04_136_race0.htm?x=0&y=148&id=634 |title=2008 Democratic Party Primary Election |date=2008-03-04 |accessdate=2008-03-07 |publisher=Office of the Secretary of State]

Delegate breakdown

The Texas Democratic Party sends a total of 228 delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Of those delegates, 193 are pledged and 35 are unpledged. Most of the 193 pledged delegates are allocated (pledged) to vote for a particular candidate at the National Convention according to the results of the Texas Presidential Primary on March 4. The 35 unpledged delegates (popularly called "superdelegates" because their vote represents the decision of a single person rather than the regular delegate's vote representing the collective decision of many voters) are free to vote for any candidate at the National Convention and are selected by the Texas Democratic Party's officials.cite web |title=Texas Delegate Selection Plan For The 2008 Democratic National Convention |publisher=Texas Democratic Party |date=August 2007 |url=http://txdems.3cdn.net/11ae19646381305920_tom6bhhx8.pdf |format=PDF |accessdate=2008-03-02] cite web |last=Berg-Andersson |first=Richard |title=Texas Democrat Presidential Nominating Process |publisher=The Green Papers |date=2008-03-06 |url=http://www.thegreenpapers.com/P08/TX-D.phtml |accessdate=2008-03-08]

The 193 pledged delegates are further divided into 126 district delegates and 67 state-wide delegates. The 126 district delegates are divided among Texas's 31 Senatorial Districts and are allocated to the presidential candidates based on the primary results in each District. The 67 state-wide delegates are divided into 42 at-large delegates and 25 Party Leaders and Elected Officials (abbreviated PLEOs). They are allocated to the presidential candidates based on the preference of the delegates at the State Convention on June 6–7.

Of the 35 unpledged delegates, 32 were selected in advance and 3 are selected at the State Convention. The delegates selected in advance are 17 Democratic National Committee members, the 13 Democratic U.S. Representatives from Texas, and 2 Distinguished Party Leaders (former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright and former DNC chairman Robert Schwarz Strauss).

Delegate selection process

The Texas Democratic Party uses a combination of two processes to select delegates and determine how they will be allocated to each presidential candidate. First, the Party uses the results of the primary process to determine how 126 of its 193 pledged delegates will be allocated to each candidate. Second, the Party uses the caucus process to select its delegates and also to determine how many of the remaining 67 pledged delegates will be allocated to each candidate. Many states require that candidates receive at least 15% of the total votes to receive delegates. The Texas Democratic Party only applies this requirement to the primary process and the final step of the caucus process since those are the only two occasions in which the Party allocates delegates to candidates.

Primary

The Texas Presidential Primary was held on March 4. It was an open primary, permitting participants to vote for candidates in any one party, regardless of voters' party affiliations. Participants were then considered as restricted to that party for the purpose of calculations regarding primaries and runoff elections for the next two years. The Primary itself was funded by the Texas State Government and administered by the Secretary of the State of Texas's office. The Texas Democratic Party uses the results of the Primary to determine how its 126 district delegates will be apportioned to each presidential candidate.

Unlike other states, and even the Republican Party of Texas, the Texas Democratic Party does not allocate its delegates to Congressional Districts. Instead, it allocates its delegates to the state's 31 Senatorial Districts. The number of delegates that the Party allocates to each District depends on the votes cast in each for the Democratic candidates during two past "general" elections: Chris Bell in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial election and John Kerry in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. One effect of this allocation scheme is that districts with a high population of African-American residents are awarded a higher number of delegates, [ [http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/politics/state/stories/022508dnpolblackvote.4071505.html In Texas, black voters could be difference for Obama | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas Politics | The Dallas Morning News ] ] while districts with a high population of Hispanic residents are awarded a lower number. [ [http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2008/02/25/2008-02-25_why_obamas_lone_star_may_shine.html Why Obama's lone star may shine ] ] [ [http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-02-23-voa3.cfm VOA News - US Democratic Candidates Battle for Hispanic Votes in Texas ] ]

Primary polling places were open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. [cite web |title=Frequently Asked Questions |publisher=Texas Secretary of State |url=http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/pamphlets/faqs.shtml |accessdate=2008-03-04] In accordance with the law, any voter in line by 7:00 p.m. was permitted to vote.fact|date=March 2008 The Texas Secretary of State had a web site that provides the location of polling places. [cite web |title=Finding My Polling Place |publisher=Texas Secretary of State |url=https://voterinfo.sos.state.tx.us/voterws/viw/faces/SearchSelectionPolling.jsp |accessdate=2008-03-04] The site also offered a list of contact numbers for local county clerks and elections administrators where voters may obtain polling place location information. [cite web |title=Election Duties |publisher=Texas Secretary of State |url=http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/county.shtml |accessdate=2008-03-04] The Texas Democratic Party's official web site also included information about the locations of polling places. [cite web |title=Primary Election Polling Locations |publisher=Texas Democratic Party |url=http://www.txdemocrats.org/grassroots/primary_election_polling_locations |accessdate=2008-03-04]

Caucuses

The Texas Democratic Party holds three tiers of caucus events to select its delegates: precinct conventions, County and Senatorial District conventions, and a State Convention. The precinct conventions immediately followed the primary, a process in 2008 that was advertised as the "Texas Two-Step". [ [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/politics/5583761.html A guide to Texas' electoral two-step | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle] ] Senator Royce West is chair of the Advisory Committee on the Texas Democratic Party Convention/Caucus System, which is charged with investigating the caucus system, including whether to retain the Texas Two Step. [ [http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/politics/state/stories/070808dntexdelegates.3221c189.html Democratic advisory group reviews 'Texas Two-Step' voting system | dallaswnews.com - Dallas Morning News] ]

Precinct conventions

The precinct conventions were held beginning March 4 at 7:15 p.m. (15 minutes after the Primary polls close) or after the last person in line at 7:00 p.m. had voted. At each precinct convention, participants choose Precinct Delegates that will go to the County or Senate District conventions. The Texas Democratic Party allocated one Precinct Delegate to each precinct for every 15 votes cast for Chris Bell (the party's gubernatorial candidate) in the 2006 Texas general election.

Participation was open to anyone who voted in the Primary, whether they voted early, as an absentee, or on the day of the Primary. Participants sign in and provide proof that they voted in the Primary. Such proof may be provided in one of several ways: showing a registration card that was stamped at the Primary, producing an early voting receipt, providing an official photo identification that can be checked against against a roll of early voters, or signing an affidavit (oath). The precinct conventions are governed by Robert's Rules of Order and Texas Democratic Party Rules. [ [http://bexardemocrats.org/2008PrecinctConventionTraining.html Precinct Convention Procedures ] ] Participants who arrive late to the convention may still participate but can't affect any voting that has already taken place.

When the time came to select the Precinct Delegates, participants declared their candidate preference, or that they are uncommitted, which is an option not available on the primary ballot. [cite web |url=http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/interim/int80-3.pdf |title=March presidential primaries in Texas set stage for selection of national party convention delegates |work=Interim News |id=No 80-2 |date=January 24, 2008 |publisher=House Research Organization, Texas House of Representatives] The participants in each presidential candidate preference group then choose the delegates that will represent them at the County and Senate District conventions.

A total of 8,247 precinct conventions [cite web |url=http://enr.sos.state.tx.us/enr/mar04_136_race0.htm?x=0&y=148&id=634 |title=2008 Democratic Party Primary Election |date=2008-03-04 |accessdate=2008-03-06 |publisher=Office of the Secretary of State] [ [http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/historical/jan08.shtml January 2008 Voter Registration Figures ] ] take place throughout the 254 counties in Texas, most of which were held at each precinct's Primary polling place.

Concerns had been raised in the media about the logistics in place for the precinct conventions in light of the unprecedented massive participation. [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080229/ap_on_el_pr/texas_primary_and_caucus] For example, in Harris County —of which Houston is the seat, and in which 874 conventions are scheduled— the highest primary turn-out in the past two decades was 78,000 in 2004, whereas 170,032 have already voted early in this year's Primary. [ [http://www.hcdp.org/ Harris County Democratic Party - Welcome! ] ] Typically about 5,000 people attend the precinct conventions held throughout Harris County; up to 100,000 were expected to participate this year. [ [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/politics/5583761.html A guide to Texas' electoral two-step | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle ] ] In the event, there was an estimated turnout of one million throughout the state, and as of March 11 the final result of the caucuses in Harris County was unknown. [ [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/5611253.html Harris County Dems have yet to start caucus tally | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle ] ] , as party volunteers were still collecting packets from that county's 874 precincts. The Dallas Morning News reported a projected turnout of 1.1 million. [cite web |url=http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/politics/national/stories/DN-conventions_06pol.ART0.State.Edition2.460528c.html |title=Unexpected turnout seen as big factor in Texas Democratic caucus complaints |date=2008-03-06 |work=The Dallas Morning News] Overall, less than half of the precincts statewide had reported to the state Democratic party by mid-March. [ [http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/847/story/209554.html Victoria Advocate - Democrats still counting caucus results ] ]

County and Senatorial District conventions

County and Senatorial District Conventions are held on March 29. At each convention, Precinct Delegates choose the County Delegates (7,315 in total among all the conventions) that will go to the State Convention. The Texas Democratic Party allocates one County Delegate to each convention for every 180 votes cast for Chris Bell in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial election.

State Convention

The State Convention is held on June 6–7. At the Convention, the 7,315 County Delegates plus 351 state superdelegates choose 67 delegates to go to the Democratic National Convention: 42 At-large Delegates and 25 Pledged Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) delegates. These 67 delegates along with the 126 district delegates bring the total for pledged delegates to 193. [cite web |url=http://www.txdemocrats.org/page/-/howto08.pdf |format=PDF |title=How To Be a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention |publisher=Texas Democrats] The delegates at the State Convention also choose 3 "add-on" unpledged delegates to attend the Democratic National Convention.

Polls

The latest poll of likely Democratic primary voters on March 2 showed Sen. Hillary Clinton with a statistically-insignificant 50% to 49% lead, with 1% Not Sure. [cite web |url=http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/texas/texas_democratic_presidential_primary |title=Texas Democratic Presidential Primary |date=2008-03-02 |accessdate=2008-03-03 |work=Rasmussenreports.com]

Results

Primary results

Primary date: March 4, 2008

National pledged delegates determined: 126 (of 193)

Challenged results

On March 14, the Clinton campaign issued a letter to the Texas Democratic Party challenging the results of its precinct conventions. The letter proposed that the Party delay the County and Senatorial District conventions until it can provide the campaign with "presidential preference counts [that] can be made based on a review of each and every sign in sheet to determine eligibility of participants and delegates".cite web |last=Musselman |first=Karl-Thomas |title=Clinton's Letter to the TDP Seeking to Delay County Conventions |publisher=Burnt Orange Report |date=2008-03-16 |url=http://www.burntorangereport.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=5381 |accessdate=2008-03-17] Texas Democratic Chairman Boyd Richie issued a statement on March 17 rejecting the proposal, stating that the Texas Democratic Party "will not set up an unnecessary, ad hoc 'verification' process that could effectively disqualify delegates selected at their precinct conventions after the fact."cite web |title=Texas Democratic Party Will Not Grant Clinton Request |publisher=KXAN-TV |date=2008-03-17 |url=http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=8029533 |accessdate=2008-03-17]

County and Senatorial District convention results

Convention date: March 29, 2008

National pledged delegates determined: 0 (of 193)

State Convention results

Convention date: June 6–7 2008

National pledged delegates determined: 67 (of 193)

See also

* Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2008
* Texas Republican primary, 2008

References

External links

* [http://www.sos.state.tx.us/index.html Texas Secretary of State] information about the Texas Presidential Primary
* [http://txdemocrats.org/index_election Texas Democratic Party] information about Texas Democratic caucus events
* [http://www.txdemocrats.org/the_party/national_convention_delegates_alternates] List of National Delegates, Alternates and Standing Committee members elected 6/7/08 at Texas State Dem. Convention
* [http://www.changethecaucus.org Group of Texas Democrats Seeking to End the Texas Two Step


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