Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Upcoming Texas County/District Conventions

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

This Saturday Texas will perform its second level of delegate selection - its county and Senate District Conventions. Unlike most states, Texas does not apportion precinct delegates from its primary and caucuses according to its US Congressional Districts, but rather from its State Senate Districts.

A lot of confusion has reigned about how the first level delegates were determined on March 4th. Most folks are now familiar with the famous "Texas 2-Step", where first a primary was held, then caucuses immediately afterward.

Texas has a total of 228 delegates attending the national convention. 126 are allocated according to the results of the primary, and another 67 from the caucuses (the remainder are superdelegates and add-ons). However, the delegates from the caucuses most go through several levels - first precinct level delegates were elected to attend Senate District conventions (the ones occurring this Saturday). From there, state convention delegates will be elected, who will determine the final remaining national convention delegates.

Based on the results from the dual primary/caucus event on March 4th, the district delegates will meet and determine the delegates to the Texas Democratic State Convention on Friday, June 6. At the State Convention the final 67 pledged national delegates will be selected (along with 3 elected "unpledged add-on" delegates). The 32 Texas superdelegates are obviously already determined.

So what will the upcoming district conventions tell us? Mainly they'll provide insight into just what the heck happened in the precinct caucuses on March 9th. Due to how the caucus results were reported back to the state office, there was never a final set of results reported to the media. Michell Tsai at Slate has a good explanation as to what happened: The state party never anticipated the demand for results (most races have had a clear nominee by now), and had no system in place for reporting. Precinct chairs were only required to mail in their results within three days. There was an optional reporting mechanism to phone in final delegate totals, but its usage was optional and so there was no clear picture. The party finally decided to just stop worrying about reporting the precinct results and just focused on making sure they had the information out to the district conventions in time for their start this Saturday. Therefore, the last update only had 41% of precinct results, and there won't be any further updates. From the Texas Democrats website:

The Texas Democratic Party is no longer updating the unofficial results from the precinct conventions. We are now shifting our efforts to collecting the official results from the precinct conventions to make sure they are available at Senatorial District/County Conventions on March 29, where delegates will be elected to the State Convention. Ultimately, those state conventions delegates will determine the allocation of 67 national delegates.
But with the next round of conventions coming up, why hasn't the Texas Democratic Party updated the statewide precinct caucus results? There's no clear answer; if I had to hazard a guess I'd say politics in Texas are pretty low-key, local affairs, and all this is handled at a level lower than the statewide party headquarters. A quick read through the Texas Democratic Party Rules provides the most likely explanation (emphasis in italics are mine):
Rule IV-B-7:
7. Submission of Records. The record and a copy shall be signed officially by the Permanent Convention Chair, sealed, and transmitted safely in person, no later than the third day after the convention, or by certified mail, return receipt requested, no later than the second day after the Convention, by the Permanent Chair to the County Chair or County Executive Committee Secretary, who shall send a copy of
the delegate and alternate list to State Party headquarters. Copies shall be retained on file at both the county and state office until the end of the primary election year. (Texas Election Code §174.027)

Rule IV-C-4:
4. Temporary Roll. The County or Senatorial District Chair shall deliver the lists of all such Delegates and Alternates to the Convention, and these lists shall constitute the Temporary Roll. Only those Delegates listed thereon, or their alternates who assume Delegate status, may vote on the temporary organization of the Convention. Proxy voting shall not be permitted. (Texas Election Code §174.068)
So, we see that the precinct results were submitted to the County Chairs, who then forwarded that information on to the state party headquarters. Furthermore, the County Chairs are the ones responsible for determining the roll of eligible delegates to the County/District Conventions. Therefore I think that the County Chairs are the ones with the list of precinct caucus results, and the total list of statewide precinct delegate results is sitting in a filing cabinet in the Texas state Democratic office somewhere since no one has ever been asked to pull that information together before.

Currently the projected results are as follows:
  • Clinton - 50.9% - 65 delegates
  • Obama - 47.4% - 61 delegates
Caucuses (incomplete - based on 41% reporting)
  • Clinton - 29 delegates
  • Obama - 38 delegates

Therefore, look for potential movement in the delegate allocations for Texas based on the results of the district/county conventions this Saturday. (One last shameless plug: If you'd like insight into the different types of delegates (add-ons, PLEOs, etc.) I broke down the Washington state delegation last month).


FlyOnTneWall said...

Just a small clarification.
The district/county level conventions in Texas are bound, by rule, to reflect the results of the precinct level caucuses. That is to say that the conventions must apportion their delegates to the state level convention in a manner that reflects the overall split at the precinct-level caucuses in that district.

So all we'll get out of this stage is a formal clarification of what happened back when Texans caucused. The only real chance for movement comes at the state level convention, when delegates aren't bound to vote in a manner that reflects their earlier pledges. On the other hand, because you're talking about a much smaller (and hence far more manageable) number of delegates, don't expect to see too much switching. The main reason for suspense here is that we don't know whether the 41% of the results is actually reflective of the full number of caucuses.

MKSinSA said...

Hi Charlie,

Just wanted to drop by and say Welcome! Also a shout out to Yousri as well. Great work over here!

billreef said...

You have caucus results transposed with results from from the 41 per cent misstated

2009 Journal Writer said...

Billreef -
Can you please clarify your comment? I'm not sure what you're saying I have transposed.

mksinsa - Thanks for the welcome!