In a few hours the polls will open in Wisconsin, Hawaii and Texas for the next round in the Democratic nomination battle between Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama.
Yep. Election day may officially be March 4, but my home state allows early voting starting two weeks before the actual election date. So for the first time since 1988, candidates are gonna have to come to the Lone Star State and do more than just use Texas as a political ATM machine.
Since I'm the native Texan on the Project and it's been a while since my home state mattered in a presidential primary, I thought I'd give y'all some insight on what to expect as the battle for Texas unfolds.
First, the basics. Texas contains three of the top ten largest US cities in population, Houston (4th) San Antonio (7th) and Dallas (9th). When you add the top 25 cities in population, Austin is 16th, Fort Worth is 18th and El Paso is 23rd.
There are sizable concentrations of African-Americans and Latinos in my home state in addition to large chunks of GLBT people concentrated in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.
Contrary to what you've heard about Texas being a 'red state', Republican control of it is only a recent phenomenon. Texas historically is a progressive state. After 20 years of GOP mismanagement and chicanery, even loyal Republicans are sick of it.
So what to expect once the returns start getting counted on March 4?
Texas is an open primary state, which means you can be registered to one party and crossover to vote in the other's primary.
Turnout will be heavy in the Latino and African-American communities. Latinos have an historic opportunity to give Rick Noriega a chance to secure the Democratic nomination for US Senate and take on John Cornyn in the fall. African-American Texans see a historic chance to help Sen. Barack Obama get one step closer to our people's long term dream of an African-American president.
Focus on the Houston/Harris County area. Houston's not only the largest city in the state, but it and Harris County provide 16% of any votes cast in a statewide race. Dallas/Fort Worth is next in importance returns wise.
Out of the 228 total delegates Texas is allocated by the Democratic party, 35 of them are superdelegates. 193 will be up for grabs on March 4. The popular vote will only determine 75% (126) of those delegates and those are the ones Senators Obama and Clinton will do battle to add to their totals that night.
42 delegates get allocated during the caucus phase at the primary and county convention level, and 25 at the state convention level June 6-8. Delegates are dispersed based on voting strength in the 31 state senate districts, not congressional districts as other states do it.
Oh yeah, bad news for you Hillary lovers. Latest AP poll shows Sen. Obama and her in a virtual tie, so sit back, relax and enjoy the fun as the focus on Election 2008 shifts to the Lone Star State.