Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No Move is Good Move: Texas Won't Change 2012 Primary Dates in 2009

Yesterday was the final day of the Texas legislature's 2009 session, and with the adjournment came the death knell for one of the handful of frontloading bills (HB 246) proposed in state capitals during the year. The legislation would have moved the state's presidential primaries as well as those for statewide and local offices from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February in 2012 and beyond.

Unlike the case in Oklahoma (and several other states, for that matter), though, bills cannot be carried over from one session to the next. So, while the potential is there for the Oklahoma bill regarding parties paying for presidential primaries to have new life breathed into it in 2010, the frontloading bill in Texas will have to be reintroduced altogether. And it could be that since 201o is a reelection year for Texas legislators, they may opt to deal with issues other than the presidential primary; pushing that one on the backburner for another year until the issue is more salient in 2011. As we've mentioned here several times, Texas is still a Republican-dominated state politically and it would be hard to imagine a scenario where the Lone Star state allows the next GOP nominee to be chosen with out sharing its opinion first. HB 246 was a Democratic-sponsored piece of legislation, but it is certainly a measure that could very easily find Republican support down the road.

For the moment, though, we can go ahead and mark Texas off the list of prospective frontloading states for this year.

Recent Posts:
New Jersey Gubernatorial Primary Today

FHQ Hangin' Out in FL-08

Oklahoma Bill to Have Parties Pay for Presidential Primaries is Done for 2009


Robert said...

I know this is not directly relevant to the post on Texas, but I have been doing some thinking on the Gingrich/ Limbaugh statements on the racist nature of Sonia Sotomayor. I would like to pose three questions:

1. Is 2004 going to be the last Presidential election in which the majority of white males will vote for the winner?

2. Are the "race-baiting" tactics like the Gingrich statement, the anti-immigrant campaign of the Republicans in 2008, and the Clintons in the South Carolina primary going to be increasingly counterproductive?

3. If the answers to 1 and 2 are "yes", then is the era of white-male domination of American politics over?

The race-baiting suggestion was in the Port Huron Times Herald

Josh Putnam said...

Good questions. I'll leave it open for discussion before commenting. Here's that link.

Jack said...

1) In any election that the Republicans win, the majority of white males will vote for the winner, as white males are more Republican than the population as a whole. I'm not one of those people that believes the Republicans will never win again.

2) I'm a pessimist by nature, and I refuse to believe politics are somehow post-racial. However, it's better than it used to be. Race-baiting tactics will still work when used subtly and judiciously, but can easily backfire both in the short term and especially over the long term, as we're probably seeing with the Republicans paying the price among minorities - and some whites - for the southern strategy, though this is hardly the only reason the party is struggling.

3) White males are less dominant than they used to be, but when the vice president, 83 or so senators, the vast majority of the House and 39 governors are white males, well, you get the picture.

Robert said...


Good points all, but is the Sotomayor discussion a watershed? Why have so many white-male Senators run from the Gingrich/ Limbaugh statements? Why have Gingrich and even Limbaugh backed away from something that would have resonated strongly within the party faithful only one or two years ago? When we consider that we now have 4 majority-minority states (HI, NM, CA & TX) and a growing number of majority-minority districts (another thing to think about as you travel from one district to another is whether it is a traditional district or a majority-minority district). I believe it was the Black brothers who pointed out that Jesse Helms was only able to win elections by getting a supermajority of white votes (>75%).

I agree that the Republicans are not dead, but I do think that it is going to be increasingly difficult for any candidate to use white males as a base to win an election without a significant portion of another group. GWB did it with a significant percentage of Hispanic vote. What blocks are those who appeal to the white-male vote going to capture to bring it to victory? I agree that the Republicans are not dead, but to be a credible force in American politics, it will probably need to expand beyond a shrinking white-male base.

As far as the white-male domination in Congress etc., it may be that we just assumed that our leaders had to be white males. I remember in the political-discussion group Josh and I were in during 2007-2008, some of the discussants had difficulty wrapping their mind around either an African-American or a woman being a credible candidate much less becoming President. White-male Democrats have been getting elected from the South for years without capturing a majority of the white-male vote, but the "wise Latina" comment is a dagger aimed directly at the good-old white-boy network and any institution (including party) that ignores the warning signs.

I think the Sotomayor nomination and hearings will give a boost to the Palin and Hutchinson candidacies, and a blow to Gingrich. BTW, Josh, have you considered Gary Sinese as your tenth candidate?

Jack said...

I think most Republicans have realized that certain forms of race-baiting, like calling Sotomayor a racist, do little but further alienate minorities. In SOME elections with a minority candidate, such tactics might be more effective. It will be interesting how they handle Artur Davis in the Alabama gubernatorial race — my guess is that the Republicans will be extremely careful as the eyes of the nation (read: the media) will be upon them to see how they handle running against a legitimate African American gubernatorial candidate in the Deep South.

I was looking at the exit polls form 2008 and manipulating the numbers a bit; others have done so far better than I have so I won't post my numbers, but it seems to me that any reasonable winning coalition for Republicans, even with somewhat increased Hispanic turnout, would require a greater share of the white vote than McCain got, though I agree it's important for Republicans to reach out to minorities as well. Keep in mind that the Republican base is not merely white males; they also win among white females, and whites made up three-quarters of the 2008 electorate.

And even though I supported Obama throughout the primary season, I had some early skepticism as to whether he could win the general election. However, even if I was far less politically literate in early 2007 than I was in 2008, I wasn't about to support a candidate who couldn't win the general, and there was one thing that made me believe he could. Despite Obama's message of hope, I originally supported Obama out of cynicism. Four years ago, I had read, but not watched, Obama's 2004 convention speech, deemed it vacuous (I have since changed my mind), and thought, "If anyone can give such a mediocre keynote and have everyone think it was the greatest speech ever made, he must be a great politician!"

Robert said...


More good points. I highly recommend the book Divided America by Earl and Merle Black. It talks about the demographics of voting in five regions of the country. It is based on the 2006 election data. The 2008 election will be the last one with whites making up 75% of the electorate. By 2020 the white vote will probably be under 60%. It would seem to me that the greatest opportunity for Democrats is to increase the gender gap among whites. Likewise the greatest opportunity for the Republicans is to increase the minority gap between black and brown minority groups. The reason I think the Sotomayor nomination is so important is that it enhances the Democratic opportunity while decreasing the Republican opportunity. For a post-partisan President this seems to me to be a brilliant partisan move. I think it will be a long time, if ever, that we will see a ticket with two white males win the Presidency. I do think this is a watershed.

Apparently E.J. Dione doesn't agree with me. See

Jack said...

I'm not sure if the growth in the percentage of nonwhite voters will increase as rapidly as some projections. I know that some immigration projections have been revised downward lately.

Basically, Republicans need to do better with everyone, both white and nonwhite, than they did in 2008. They should pursue strategies that will allow them to appeal to more minorities without completely alienating their base. Republicans will inevitably be behind the Democrats with minorities for a long time to come simply because their policies aren't what minorities want, with the exception of some social issues, so catching up to the Democrats with minorities is probably impossible. Instead of shifting left on issues like immigration, it is probably more important for Republicans to come up with an appealing message (which may or may not involve some policy compromises), and, more importantly, appealing candidates. A rising tide lifts most racial boats.

Sotomayor's nomination is certainly a good political move; it should help Obama with Hispanics without hurting him among anyone. The people who consider Sotomayor a racist aren't the type that would vote for Obama — and probably think Obama is a racist too. And as for those who object to her because they think she's a liberal, well, Obama wasn't going to nominate Eugene Scalia.

Robert said...

Looks like Mark Sanford was the big winner today. He resisted the stimulus money and was overturned. Now South Carolina gets the stimulus money to help the state, and he gets credit for standing up to Obama. Talk about Win/ Win!

Jack said...

How would the stimulus money help South Carolina? Socialism's never done anyone any good.

Robert said...

Well, you are right about socialism. SC is my home state as well as a neighboring state to my current location so I try to follow it a little more than most. Although it does not get the press that other states, it is a basket case, a little less worse than MI but worse than CA. Just to be hypothetical let's say that the state with the second worst economy recovers more slowly than the rest of the country, the ambitious governor of the state would have a difficult time making a case for his party's presidential nomination. However, by standing on principle against socialism, being forced against his will to accept the federal money, and seeing as big or bigger bounce from the stimulus money than neighboring states; he could claim credit for the economic recovery and standing firm for principles (what a wretched sentence!).

BTW, Jack and Josh, I am headed for sunny CA to cavort in districts 40 and 47. I can't believe that I am actually googooling for Congressional Districts! I think you may have ruined me for life.

Jack said...

Robert, I was being a bit sarcastic; I most certainly think it's in South Carolina's interest to take the stimulus money.

Ah, the 40th, the smallest district in the country represented by a Republican. And the erratic 47th, which Bush won by 1.4 points in 2004 but Obama won by 22.3(!) in 2008. So most certainly a fun and interesting pair of districts you picked. Is that why you're going there?

Robert said...


I figured you were being sarcastic, but I never pass up an opportunity to spout off! I am actually going to an annual meeting in Anaheim and will be staying very close to Disneyland. Until you led me astray, I never even thought about which Congressional District I was in. I live in GA-3 and pass through GA-8 to get to work in GA-9. Tomorrow I will need to pass through GA-8 and GA-13 to get to the airport in GA-5. I'll think about you in the morning!

Robert said...


Sorry I have a correction. As Josh could tell you, I actually work in GA-12, passing through GA-8 and GA-9 to get to work. I am so embarrassed!

Jack said...

What's it like living in a district represented by a Democrat? I haven't lived in one since I was 4, when Robert Mrazek represented New York's 3rd, and naturally I wasn't politically active at the time.

Robert said...

Jim Marshall is not your typical Democrat. He did vote for the stimulus, but he was a much stronger supporter of the Iraq War than people like Lieberman. I had a student who was an ardent Democrat who did an internship with Marshall. He was disappointed with his conservative voting record. The only credible argument the Republicans had against Marshall in 2006 & 2008 was that he would vote for Pelosi & and the stimulus bill of course.

Jack said...

Wait a sec, you said you live in the 3rd, which is represented by Lynn Westmoreland. He's not a Democrat; Democrats don't call the Obama's "uppity" like he did. I had googled the 12th, where you said you worked. That's Barrow.

People like Lynn Westmoreland (and to a lesser extent, my congressman) surely make even confirmed liberals long for a conservative Democrat like Marshall.

I was just wondering if living in a Democrat-represented district is some sort of life-altering experience which fundamentally changes one's outlook on the world or one's inner spirit or something.

Jack said...

Then again, you said once you lived in Forsyth, right? (I spent a night there in January.) That's squarely within Marshall's 8th. Never mind.