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Pandemonium in Texas?

March 4th, 2008 · No Comments · Politics

According to CNN (and others), the Texas caucuses have been something just shy of totally chaotic. It’s hard to say for sure how much of it is legitimate and how much is the sort of desperate nonsense we get from the poor saps who do the all-night coverage of primaries, but if it’s true, I have a weird feeling that it helps Clinton.

Obama’s youth voters are going to have a hard time wresting control of caucuses from Clinton’s older, more belligerent supporters. The young kids almost certainly have no idea how to caucus, whereas the older voters will have spent all of their non-Matlock-watching hours over the past month memorizing crazy party rules. Those young voters don’t stand a chance.

I speak from experience here.

When I worked heavily on campaigns in 1996 and 1998, the number one problem we faced on election days was Grumpy Old People. They’d show up with tape measures and chalk to mark the exact boundary that we weren’t allowed to cross without violating obscure local election laws. In 1996, I was sent to a polling location in Baltimore where that line fell two feet into the road in front of the facility and a crazy old man stood outside all morning to make sure we stayed on the other side of the road lest we cross his precious line.

Now imagine that kind of Old Man Stubbornness, but with the added force of the old man ALSO being from Texas.

Barring some sort of miracle, Clinton’s geezer brigade is going to control those caucuses. Obama’s done surprisingly poorly with voters who decided who to support today and Clinton is only behind by a few thousand votes in the Texas primary voting at the moment. Those two things combine to make me suspect that Clinton is going to manage to carry Texas by at least a few points.

A week ago, the idea of Hillary winning three of the four contests today seemed impossible. Now it’s looking more and more likely.

[UPDATE] Wow. During the ten minutes it took for me to write this, Clinton has taken the lead by a few thousand votes.

[UPDATE TWO] It’s 1:00 AM and Hillary has won the primary by 3-ish percent. With 5% of caucuses reporting, Obama is up by around 13%. It’ll be curious to see how much difference there will be between the two final numbers. If there’s more than a 10% difference (which is about the amount I can see being lost to people not bothering to caucus after voting) in the end, I think it’s pretty damning in terms of the democratic validity of caucuses.

[UPDATE THREE] Scott’s back from caucusing. It sounds about as wacky as we’ve heard in reports, but without much by way of Pro-Clinton Old Man shenanigans.


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