Texas Democratic Primary not "winner-take-all," delegates sliced among candidates

The second week of early voting got under Monday. Bob Cahn and Jan Rooker were among those casting a ballot. The two Democrats had an easier time deciding who to vote for than agreeing on how the party should distribute delegates to each candidate.

"If you get a proportional vote, then at least it is somewhat representative,” said Cahn.

Rooker was quick with a differing response. “And I disagree, I like Winner take all," Rooker said.

It’s a political conundrum not just for voters, but also the candidates, according to political analyst Brian Smith. 

"So Texas is going to be a hugely important state with more than 200 delegates in play, the problem for the candidates is understanding how you get at those delegates,” said Smith.


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In the Texas Democratic Party, delegates are not winner-take-all. It goes beyond an apples and oranges analogy. It's more like apples, oranges, and bananas.

"In an ideal world, a simple world, you'd use the Democratic 15 percent threshold, count up all the votes and divvy them out by that, but we don’t live in an ideal world,” said Smith.

There are 228 Texas Democratic Party delegates, and they're sliced up into three bundles. 149 are in the 31 State Senate districts. Some of those districts only have two delegates to fight for; like District 31 in the Panhandle. Urban centers have more. District 14, which includes Travis County, has the most with 10 delegates. 

"Yeah you look here, (pointing to a section of west Texas) with the exception of El Paso, I draw this line here and say I don’t spend a minute there,” said Smith.

That strategy brought Bernie Sanders to Austin this past weekend and also Mike Bloomberg last month.

"For this, what you are going to do is, where can I win a lot of delegates, spend my time there, understanding that if I win a lot of delegates in those districts it will also help by popular vote,” said Smith.

A total of 79 delegates are divided up by the outcome of the statewide primary vote. 49 are classified as at large and 30 are held by party leaders. However, there's a mathematical risk.

"Because it could very well be somebody wins the Statewide vote by two or three percent, but because they did poorly in key districts, actually get a smaller number of delegates,” said Smith.  

This is a potential Texas twist similar to the 2016 election night loss for Hillary Clinton. She won the popular vote nationally but lost the White House because Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote.

There are also 33 additional delegates that are held in reserve during the Party Convention. They were once known as Superdelegates but were renamed and scaled back in power. They only come into play if there is no nominee after the first ballot.