Thursday, February 14, 2008

Clinton’s Reliance On Strong Hispanic Support in Texas Has A Flaw

I noted this in the New York Times, and now see that a Daily Kos blogger has noted it as well. Texas has just about the most arcane system of delegate selection as you will ever imagine. We actually have to hold seminars on how the process works, and most attendees leave them shaking their heads.

The Texas system of convention delegate selection is not the pro rata system you see in other states. In Texas, delegates are apportioned to our 31 State Senate Districts, and the number of delegates each district is allotted depends on the voter turnout in the previous election cycle, in this case, the midyear election in 2006.

What the New York Times article contends is that in 2006, Hispanic-dominated areas experienced low voter turnouts, whereas African-American dominated areas had unusually large turnouts. That being the case, more delegates will be allotted to the latter districts than to the former. If Hillary Clinton is depending on a huge Hispanic voter turnout, and it may well happen based on turnout in California, the campaign had better plan on a reduced effect, delegate-wise, because Hispanic dominated areas will have fewer delegates allocated to them.

Or at least that’s what they say in the article.

Personally, I don’t know. I recall a fairly low voter turnout in Fort Bend County’s Precinct 2 – an area of eastern Fort Bend County that has a very strong African-American presence. However, voter turnout in Hispanic-dominated portions of western Fort Bend was also disappointingly low. But that’s my local take.

We all know that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is heavily courting the El Paso area as well as Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley; all three are high density centers of Hispanic voters. So how many delegates have been allotted to those areas? All totaled up, these areas comprise Senate Districts 29, 19, 21, 20, and 27. These 5 Senate Districts have been allocated a total of 18 delegates. OK, add to that SD 26, a heavily Hispanic district in and around San Antonio, and you have a total of 22 delegates.

If these districts all go in a big way to Clinton, and there is no reason right now to assume any differently, then she will garner the lion’s share of those delegates. That’s 22 out of 126 up for grabs on March 4th.

I once met a woman who counseled me on the importance of keeping my options open and my nets cast wide. My area of concern was fairly well-defined and narrow, and she wisely advised me to increase the diversity of my clientele. This is also a good piece of advice for Clinton’s handlers, especially here in wild and wooly Texas, where a prize plum in one state is a mediocre Valley orange in another. Barring that, she said, if I wanted to keep all my eggs on one basket, she told me to not to take my eyes off that basket.

And that’s not a bad advice for Clinton’s people, either.

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