Politics

Clinton Could Win Texas but Lose the Delegate Count

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They say everything is bigger down here in Texas. Everything is also more complicated. The byzantine rules for the state’s upcoming primary must have been developed after a wild night of margaritas and cervezas on 6th Street. When all is said and done, the winner of the popular vote could very easily come out with fewer delegates.

By now you probably know Texas combines a primary with precinct caucuses. Sixty-seven of the 193 delegates up for grabs next Tuesday come from these caucuses. That’s good news for Barack Obama who does well at such events. But there’s even better news for Obama and that’s the way the state will apportion the remaining 126 delegates.

Delegates selected in the primary will be divided up by state senate district (31 in all) but they won’t all receive the same number of delegates. The apportionment will be based on turnout numbers in the two most recent Democratic primaries. In 2006 and 2004, turnout was highest in the historically African American districts of Houston and Dallas as well as in such rich liberal areas as Travis County, where Austin is located. Turnout was lowest (as it always is) down along the border counties where Hispanic populations are very high. Anyone who knows anything about the makeup of Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s base supporters knows this situation strongly favors Obama.

Even if Clinton manages to inspire record turnout and huge support from the Rio Grande Valley, those districts will not send as many delegates to the convention as will the more urban districts. Conceivably, Clinton could win the popular vote by several percentage points but lose the delegate count. Texas has been called a firewall state for the New York senator. It might just be a Waterloo.