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RealClearPolitics HorseRaceBlog

By Jay Cost

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An Email from a Smart Reader (And an Update to Today's Column)

Earlier today - I made the following point:

The Obama campaign is proclaiming they won the Texas caucus by double digits. Indeed, that seems to be the case. Nevertheless, they need to be careful not to proclaim this too loudly. How will it look if Clinton wins a majority of the more than 2.5 million Texans who voted in the primary, but Obama wins the caucus in which about 100,000 people participated? That might help Clinton because it is evidence that the caucuses are not a good gauge of voter preferences. Obama needs to talk up his pledged delegate lead, without reminding people of how it is heavily dependent upon the caucuses. The Clinton camp is going to start attacking these caucuses.

In response to this, a perceptive reader of mine wrote me to correct the "100,000 people" estimate, which I derived (reasonably, I thought) by extrapolating from the results as they appeared at the time I wrote the original essay. He notes that 100,000 is actually the number of precinct delegates going to the Senatorial Conventions. My Texas reader elaborates:

For example, my precinct had about 150 show up for the Precinct Convention, but our precinct was allocated only 13 delegates, which were divided 8 for Obama and 5 for Hillary. These 13 are part of the 100,000 total. Roughly 8,000 precincts in TX, with avg of 12-13 delegates = 100,000. If my precinct were "average" (it may not be) that means over 1 MILLION participated in the TX Primary Conventions.

This is why it pays to publicize your email address. Rob in Houston, I thank you.

This reduces the severity of Obama's caucus "problem" in Texas, but it does not eliminate it. Obama wins a caucus that has a turnout of less-than-half of the primary vote (caucus participation seems likely to me to be less than 1 million - Houston precincts probably "over-performed" - which would be about 36% of the primary vote) - and so walks away from the state with more delegates than the primary vote winner. There is an argument there for Clinton to exploit. Obama needs to have a good rebuttal prepared.

-Jay Cost