Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Texas Primary

In years past, by the time Texas holds its primary, both parties have anointed their chosen standard bearer. Tonight's elections were anybody's guess. And since attendance was up almost tenfold, who's to say that's a bad thing?

Unlike my dear wife, who almost always votes early, I showed up this evening at 6:20, ready to vote and caucus. A word of explanation here: while some states hold a primary, and others have caucuses, my native land has both.

Two-thirds of Texas' delegates are awarded based strictly on the primary vote outcome. The other third are awarded based on the outcome of the caucuses.

Confusing? Yes. But that's how we roll here in the Lone Star state.

After voting, I hung out out until after the polls closed, then gathered with others from my precinct in the gymnasium of a nearby grade school (a heart-warmingly Norman Rockwell scene).

Perhaps the longest part of the whole caucus process was signing in with our candidate preferences. Our precinct was allowed 11 delegates for the next event: the state senatorial convention at the end of the month. How those were divvied up was based on how many people signed in for each candidate.

I signed in for Hillary (there, I've said it). Like many, I think the dream ticket would be either a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket. This year I actually saw political advertising on TV! I can't remember the last time I've seen that during primary season.

Our precinct is fairly mixed, so we had a good mix of Hispanic and Anglo caucusers with a somewhat smaller percentage of African Americans. Clinton supporters tended to be older and/or Hispanic. Obama supporters were more likely to be younger and either Anglo or African American. This trend pretty much matches national trends.

The numbers after people finished signing in (based on my faulty recollection): 68 for Barak Obama, 57 for Hillary Clinton. We split into our separate caususes and elected delegates and alternates. Based on the sign in tallies, this meant 5 Clinton-pledged delegates and 6 Obama delegates.

Unlike other times I've done this, people were pretty focused on the task at hand, which was seen, in a nutshell, as getting the Republicans out of the White House. I finally left around 9 o'clock, leaving the Obama side of the precinct to make the final determination of the permanent precinct chair and any resolutions.

It may sound sappy, but seeing the process of our (occasionally flawed) democracy at work is one of the things that fills me with flag-waving patriotic fervor. Even when my side loses.

Because it's not so much about the outcome as the spirit of the process.

1 comment:

Dan Brekke said...

Goodonya, Doctor. Wonderful to read a firsthand account of the goings on from a participant rather than from the usual paid gawker.