Rocket Science
Thu February 21, 2008 10:09 am

Few people understand the convoluted method Democrats use for delegate selection. Other Web sites have already posted much of this information. Burnt Orange Report is particularly good. I have decided to go straight to the source and quote from the Rules of Texas Democratic Party, Article VII “National Delegate Selection Rules.” I am sure this will clarify everything.

…[D]elegates shall be apportioned among the 31 senatorial districts by a formula giving equal weight to (a) the Democratic vote in the last gubernatorial election and (b) the Democratic vote in the last presidential election. The formula may be stated mathematically as follows:

Let P equal a given district’s percentage of the statewide Democratic vote in the last gubernatorial election, and let V equal that district’s percentage of the total statewide vote for the Democratic nominee in the last presidential election (district vote/state vote). ( P + V) divided by 2 = that district’s percentage of the total number of Delegates to be elected by the senatorial districts, as opposed to the number to be elected at-large.

To apply the apportionment formula, multiply the resulting percentage times the total number of Delegates to be elected from all Senatorial District Caucuses. Assign each Senatorial District Caucus the whole number of Delegates resulting from this product. Assign remaining Delegates to Senatorial District Caucuses in descending order of fractional remainder, until all allocated Delegates have been assigned.

Now I am sure it is perfectly clear, right?

OK, let’s start over, in plain English.

The Democrats choose their delegates from the 31 state senatorial districts. However, all senatorial districts are not created equal. To determine how many delegates each district is entitled to, party mathemeticians must first calculate the percentage of the statewide Democratic vote cast in each senatorial district for the party’s 2006 candidate for governor (Chris Bell) and the party’s 2004 nominee for president (John Kerry).

Here is how it would work for Senate District 29 (El Paso), the population of which is some 640,000.

1. Statewide vote for Bell 2006: 1,310,337
2. District 29 (El Paso County) vote for Bell: 31,528
3. Percentage of statewide vote cast in District 29: 2.4%
4. Statewide vote for Kerry: 2,832,704
5. District 29 vote for Kerry: 95,142
6. Percentage of statewide vote cast in District 29: 3.3%
7. Add the two percentages = 5.7%
8. Divide by 2 = 2.85%
9. District 29 El Paso should get 2.85% of 126 delegates, or 3.7 delegates. El Paso does indeed get three delegates.

The number of delegates, therefore, is based upon the strength – or weakness – of the Democratic turnout in each senatorial district. The Texas Democratic party’s Web site has a chart that has appeared, or been written about, on numerous Web sites, indicating how many delegates each district is entitled to. The following list includes the name, party, and home town of the state senator who represents the district, with the number of Democratic delegates, which range from 2 to 8, in parentheses:

1. Eltife, R, Tyler (4)
2. Duell, R, Greenville (4)
3. Nichols, R, Jacksonville (4)
4. Williams, R, The Woodlands (4)
5. Ogden, R, Bryan (4)
6. Gallegos, D, Houston (3)
7. Patrick, R, Houston (3)
8. Shapiro, R, Plano (4)
9. Harris, R, Arlington (3)
10.Brimer, R, Fort Worth (5)
11.Jackson, R, La Porte (4)
12. Nelson, R, Lewisville (4)
13. Ellis, D, Houston (7)
14. Watson, D, Austin (8)
15. Whitmire, D, Houston (4)
16. Carona, R, Dallas (4)
17. Janek, R, Houston (5)
18. Hegar, R, Katy (4)
19. Uresti, D, San Antonio (4)
20. Hinojosa, D, McAllen (4)
21. Zaffirini, D, Laredo (4)
22. Averitt, R, Waco (3)
23. West, D, Dallas (6)
24. Fraser, R, Horseshoe Bay (3)
25. Wentworth, R, San Antonio (6)
26. Van de Putte, D, San Antonio (4)
27. Lucio, D, Brownsville (3)
28. Duncan, R, Lubbock (3)
29. Shapleigh, D, El Paso (3)
30. Estes, R, Wichita Falls (3)
31. Seliger, R, Amarillo (2)

The consequence of the Democrats’ methodology is that Hispanics are underrepresented in delegates compared to their representation in the Senate. As a result, a candidate (let’s call her Hillary Clinton) who is strongly supported in the six districts with Hispanic senators, might not gain any ground on another candidate (let’s call him Barack Obama) who is strongly supported in the two delegate-rich black districts.

Rick Casey had a good piece about this in the Houston Chronicle last week. Casey writes:

Consider this: The two districts represented by black senators plus Austin will send a total of 21 delegates to Denver. The six Democratic districts with Hispanic senators will send 22.

Even if you add the heavily Hispanic El Paso district represented by Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, the total is only 25.

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