February 15, 2008

4 Things to consider about the Texas Primary

The Texas primary is not tomorrow!
Between now and March 4, eight states (Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, and Wisconsin) one territory (U.S. Virgin Islands), and Washington, D.C. will all vote in Democratic primaries or have Democratic caucuses. The total delegate amount including pledged and unpledged delegates for those races is 599. Four of the states have caucuses, contests in which Obama has performed very well. Virginia, Washington, and Maryland are decent-sized prizes. There hasn't been any recent polling in any of those states, so there are still a great many unknowns to be illuminated between now and March 4.

Turnout has been enormous everywhere
And because of this anyone who tells you they know what's going to happen should be avoided, professionally and socially. With an increased number of participants the predictor value for the science behind polling is highly inaccurate. When the universe you are dealing with expands greatly, what you knew about it before that expansion may no longer apply.

An election season where Texas matters is trouble for both campaigns
Imagine spending all your waking moments preparing for what will be a whirlwind of 24 states voting in primaries on the same day. Your time, effort, and volunteers have marched around these states for upwards of a year to solidify your base. And BAM!, reality hits you in the face when Super Tuesday fails to yield a frontrunner.

Now you have to travel to Texas, which is big enough to be its own free standing continent and has 16 million media markets, and you need to make buys in most of them. You organized Iowa for two years and 227,000 people came out to vote, in 2004 the Texas primary turnout was 839,000, and this year that number could reach 1.5 million people. And you only have a month to prepare and mobilize the ground game.

Obama must do well with Hispanics to take Texas
Hillary has pulled in 6-10 Hispanic voters through this election cycle (7-10 in Ca where she polls very similar to Texas). Obama has taken in 8 of 10 black votes. So truly the headlines about racial voting are playing out, but that doesn't negate a shift.

An overwhelming win in some Senate districts could tip the lead to Obama, but the same is true for Clinton. And the post primary precinct caucuses could hold the key to who walks the victor in the state. Philip Martin breaks down the delegate caucus system and how it works.

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