History of the “Texas Two-Step”


In 1976, Texas held a primary caucus hybrid for the first time, with 98 delegates allocated by the primary and 32 allocated through the caucus. 1976 was also the first year that Texas ever held a presidential primary at all. Prior to 1976, Texas held caucuses. The process for 1976 was set up in an attempt to benefit favorite son Lloyd Bentsen. Party insiders felt like he needed a boost and that holding a primary for the first time would provide him that boost. As it turned out Bentsen lost the primary soundly to Jimmy Carter.

Jimmy Carter …………………………………………736,161
Lloyd Bentsen ………………………………………..343,032
George Wallace ………………………………………270,798
Fred Harris ……………………………………………..31,379
Sargent Shriver ………………………………………..28,520
Ellen McCormack ………………………………………..5,700
Uncommitted …………………………………………129,478
Total Vote ………………………………………….1,545,068

In 1980, there was a non-binding primary “beauty contest” , but all the delegates were chosen through the caucuses. The non-binding primary had been added at the last minute by the SDEC.

Texas Democrats held no primary in 1984, but voted in precinct caucuses for 169 delegates. With the addition of party leaders, the 200-member delegation to the national convention was divided:

Walter Mondale ……………………………………………. 119
Gary Hart ……………………………………………………..41
Jesse L. Jackson ……………………………………………. 35
Uncommitted …………………………………………………..5

In 1988, Texas Democrats went back to the system first tried in 1976 in which 2/3rds of the delegates were chosen through the primary and 1/3 though the caucuses. Michael Dukakis won the most votes in the primary, but Jesse Jackson had the most of the 100,000 caucus attendees.

Democratic
Michael S. Dukakis …………………………………….579,713
Jesse L. Jackson ………………………………………433,335
Al Gore …………………………………………………357,764
Dick Gephardt …………………………………………240,158
Gary Hart ……………………………………………….82,199
Paul Simon ……………………………………………..34,499
Bruce Babbitt ………………………………………….11,618
Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. ……………………………….9,013
David E. Duke …………………………………………..8,808
W.A. Williams ……………………………………………6,238
Norbert G. Dennerll Jr. …………………………………3,700
Total Vote ………………………………………….1,767,045