Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Texas Caucuses

Dr. S. patiently recorded Texas as an "open primary" state in his handy map. Except it's a little more complicated than that. Excluding the superdelegates, the Texas primary will only choose 2/3 of the pledged delegates. Yes, that's right, just two-thirds. The allocation is like California, where each district has a predetermined number of delegates based on prior elections. However, it is unlike every other state in that by "district" I don't mean congressional district, but Texas Senatorial District. The Republicans in Texas are using congressional districts for their apportionment, just to confuse matters. Unusually heavy turnout in rural Latino districts will not translate into additional delegates for those districts.

The other third of delegates are chosen by precinct caucuses on election night starting at 7:15pm after the polls close. Read that again. This is not a joke. The precinct caucuses choose delegates to county conventions, who then choose delegates to the state convention, which in turn meets in June and selects delegates on a proportional basis. So you kind of know on election night how the math will work out at the end... sort of.

Worse, the process of running these caucuses is, apparently, messy. According to the Washington post, the Democratic party is moribund in many precincts, so there may not be precinct chairs. According to the post: "If it is time for the caucus and there is no precinct chair, party officials decided, the task of overseeing the vote will fall to the first person who collects the packet of materials used to run the caucus.... The first person in the door picks it up and controls it. So the rules are designed to create a race to the packet. You can imagine what that might look like." Indeed, you can imagine. Hand it to Texas to add, to the indignities of party democracy, a footrace.

Who will this benefit? Electorally, perhaps Obama, in that caucus goers in this situation must show up twice and understand these bizarre rules, which favors a wealthier, more educated, and more-English-fluent voters. Otherwise, I don't think anyone benefits by such a godawful mess.

The only thing worse is the Washington democratic primary being held tomorrow, which chooses exactly zero delegates. Washington state law requires a primary, but doesn't require the parties to pay any attention to it. (Republicans allocate 1/2 of their delegates via primary, which sounds better, but means you can both vote and caucus. Voters are understandably confused about any system that asks them to vote twice).

I am beginning to understand what W.C. Fields meant when he said, "I don't belong to an organized political party - I'm a Democrat."

15 comments:

Frank D. Russo said...

Will Rogers, not W.C. Fields, said "I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a Democrat."

Dr. Strangelove said...

Texas has weird laws. Interesting--I did not know about using the state legislature districts instead of the federal districts. We'll see what happens in a couple of weeks! Thanks for the fascinating post!

The Law Talking Guy said...

Frank is right about Will Rogers. I should have checked. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Dr. Strangelove said...

"Hand it to Texas to add, to the indignities of party democracy, a footrace." Hilarious, LTG. Nice post.

Raised By Republicans said...

If I had to guess I'd say that the complexity of the process favors who ever has the most support from local party leadership.

I'd also guess that the areas with the weakest local Democratic party will likely see their votes messed up and perhaps be so screwed up that voters will get frustrated and go home.

USWest said...

My favorite quote about Texas from my Texas born friend. "If I were the devil and I owned Texas and I owed Hell, I'd rent out Texas and live in Hell."

It is a rare thing that anything decent comes out of Texas.

But that might be my California prejudice showing itself.

Dr. Strangelove said...

"It is a rare thing that anything decent comes out of Texas. But that might be my California prejudice showing itself."

Might be. Yep. Might be, at that :-)

Dr. Strangelove said...

David Brooks has some hilarious comments in an otherwise somewhat dull piece on the Democratic race. In his article, "When the Magic Fades" he describes how some Obama supporters view the Hillary camp, and even feel some sympathy for her:

"They see her campaign morosely traipsing from one depressed industrial area to another — The Sitting Shiva for America Tour. They see that her entire political strategy consists of waiting for primary states as boring as she is. They feel for her."

(Obama supporters beware, however: the rest of the article largely impugns Obama's claim to bring change--this is really the only funny part in the whole piece.)

The Law Talking Guy said...

I've read the piece. I watch David Brooks and Mark Shields every week on the NewsHour on PBS. Brooks is the Republican, and he's always down on Obama; Shields is almost giddy about him. Brooks still finds time to give grudging praise to Clinton. I think he knows who the greater threat is in the Fall.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Ignore the anti-Obama stuff. That's what I was trying to say. Just read the funny bit I quoted. It's funny because it kind of rings true... sadly...

Dr. Strangelove said...

Yes, yes, I know the story: anyone who praises Obama does so because he's such a good guy, anyone who praises Clinton does so because they have ulterior motives. That's what we get from the commentariat.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Any REPUBLICAN who praises a Democrat is to be suspected of ulterior motives. That's not a big surprise, now, is it?

Anonymous said...

Please don't bash Texas. We've created wonderful things too, like fajitas. I'm sure someone before has said
"nothing great has ever come from the capitalist countries" but that was before the iPhone and the Internet!

The Law Talking Guy said...

After giving us two Bushes and Johnson, Texas deserves a little bashing, don't you think?

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