Many Texas Dems oppose caucus system in survey
Gardner Selby reports in the Austin American Statesman that “Nearly half of respondents to a nonscientific survey by the Texas Democratic Party say the party should break from 20 years of selecting presidential delegates starting with primary-night caucuses.” Here is a link to the document from the Texas Democratic Party reporting the survey results. The Party is continuing to collect survey submissions. If you would like to fill out the survey, you can go to the form on the TDP website here. At the state convention in June, a group of Texas Democrats collected enough signatures to bring a resolution ending the Texas Two Step to the floor of the convention for a discussion and a vote, but the resolution was tabled so that a committee chaired by Senator Royce West could study the issue. The resolution at the state convention did not seek an end to precinct conventions, just a change to the system so that all pledged delegates in 2012 would be allocated based on the primary results while specific delegates would still be chosen through Texas’ three-tiered convention process.
“Delegates should be elected according to the popular vote” at the polls on primary day, one respondent wrote, “not some chaotic second voting meeting.”
Last week, a party-appointed task force fielded the results, which include responses from delegates to the party’s state convention last month in Austin.
Asked what fraction of delegates should be awarded through the caucuses, 49 percent of respondents (1,367 of 2,784) said none. About 27 percent favored continuing to choose one third of pledged delegates at caucuses, with 9 percent saying half the state’s pledged delegates should be selected beginning with caucuses.
To another question, 43 percent said caucuses, now held on primary night, should be held the Saturday after Tuesday primaries. Fifteen percent favored another time.
The tallies could change as more people fill out the questionnaire online at the Texas Democrats’ Web site, www.txdemocrats.org/page/s/primsurv.
Some delegates have been picked starting with caucuses since 1988, a feature adopted by party chiefs to stir grass-roots involvement.
The so-called Texas two-step — voting in the primary, followed by participation in caucuses open only to primary voters — came under scrutiny this year, partly because some caucuses proved chaotic in the face of record turnout and because the drawn-out approach left in question which candidate won the most delegates until the state convention.
Scott Cobb of Austin championed a resolution at the convention that would have ended the selection of delegates in caucuses; it was laid aside after the task force chairman, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, asked that members be given time to study the idea.
Cobb said Friday that the survey results showcase strong sentiments for not choosing delegates in caucuses, though he hopes the party conducts a scientific poll of Democratic voters as well.
Party leaders “should pay attention to it,” Cobb said.
U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the primary, gaining a majority of 126 pledged delegates linked to primary results.
But Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive nominee, will take a majority of Texas’ delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver next month. His support proved stronger at the caucuses, which accounted for 67 delegates.
West called the survey a useful tool, though he said it might have reliability weaknesses because one person could fill out multiple copies.
“We don’t know if that’s reflective of everyone in the state,” West said. He said he wants to hear from the public at upcoming hearings.
The task force could recommend abolition of the caucuses, he said, rather than reducing the share of delegates driven by them.
“I’m not going to diddle and daddle,” West said. “If we have a majority of people (on the task force) who want to go one way, that’s the recommendation I’ll put out there.”