Monday, February 18, 2008

Don't mess with Texas's weird 'n' wacky delegate-selection system

By Michael J.W. Stickings

WaPo: "Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that convoluted delegate rules in Texas could water down the impact of strong support for her among Hispanic voters there, creating a new obstacle for her in the must-win presidential primary contest." (The complex delegate-selection plan is here (pdf). For more, see here and here.)

In brief, different districts are allocated different numbers of delegates based on the votes Kerry won in 2004. On top of this, additional delegates are selected through a parallel caucus system. Is the district-based plan fair? Maybe, maybe not -- but, either way, it isn't some new system designed to be an obstacle for Clinton or anyone else. Rather, it's been in place for two decades. Has the Clinton campaign not been paying attention? Is it that clueless?

-- Hilzoy at Sullivan's place: "When I read this, I dissolved in giggles after the first sentence. It was that part about the Texas delegate selection rules 'creating a new obstacle for her' that got me. In what sense are the Texas rules a 'new obstacle'? Were they only recently passed? Not as far as I can tell -- here, for instance, is a pdf about them from August 2007, which should have given the Clinton campaign ample time to get up to speed."

-- Publius at Obsidian Wings: "Good lord, let's see if I have this right. The Clinton campaign decides to cede every post-Super Tuesday state to Obama under the theory that Texas and Ohio will be strong firewalls. After – after – implementing this Rudy-esque strategy, they 'discovered' that the archaic Texas rules will almost certainly result in a split delegate count (at best). While they were busy 'discovering' the rules, however, the Obama campaign had people on the ground in Texas explaining the system, organizing precincts, and making Powerpoints... In this respect, Texas is simply a microcosm of the larger campaign dynamics."

Clinton may still do very well in Texas, and the Texas and Ohio contests may yet prove to be her firewall, but it is striking how the Clinton campaign continues to come up with excuses for everything that has gone wrong and could go wrong. It's all quite pathetic.

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