Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Clinton, Obama hope to gain upper hand through early Texas voting

Clinton, Obama hope to gain upper hand through early Texas voting

Early voting in urban areas being targeted by Barack Obama has swelled to record numbers in Texas, outpacing the otherwise high turnout in areas of the state viewed as more favorable to Hillary Rodham Clinton's candidacy.
But a large percentage of Democrats in Clinton's targeted areas have cast early ballots, especially the heavily Hispanic areas along the Rio Grande in South Texas _ indicating her strategy of wooing early voters also may be bearing fruit.
The early voting patterns are one just measure of what to expect in the state's pivotal March 4 contest. After losing 11 straight primaries and caucuses to Obama since Feb. 5, Clinton has pinned the future of her struggling candidacy on wins in Ohio and in Texas, delegate-rich, diverse states. Clinton is ahead in Ohio, but the contest in Texas is much tighter, polls indicate.
The latest early voting numbers suggest Obama is seeing great success in the big cities in Texas, which have large but limited delegate totals. Clinton's strategy is to accrue smaller delegate numbers over broader areas of the state, with the hope of topping Obama overall.
Both campaigns' efforts to have supporters vote early have produced startling images in a state that has not seen a competitive Democratic primary since 1988.
Voters have flooded early balloting locations, including grocery stores, overwhelming county election officials unaccustomed to handling such turnout. Some 512,000 people in the state's 15 largest counties have already cast votes in the Democratic contest, more than four times the level of turnout seen in 2004.
At rallies, Obama and Clinton always urge supporters to cast ballots early.
"Texas is on the leading edge of early voting in this country _ they have a lot more locations available and are more creative about putting them in places where people actually go," said Paul Gronke, a political scientist at Oregon's Reed College who studies early voting.
"Most other states make you go to county buildings and libraries. I am not familiar with any other state that makes locations as available as Texas does," Gronke said.
Indeed, the state's complicated electoral system has led both campaigns to push for early voting. The state holds both a primary next Tuesday and precinct caucuses later that evening, placing a burden on millions of voters who may not have time to show up twice in the same day to a voting location.
By contrast, early balloting has allowed people a 10-day window, Feb. 19 through Feb. 29, to vote in locations throughout their county. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., even on Saturday and Sunday.
Early voting is also a great organizing tool, giving the campaigns a ready-made list of people who have already voted. They can then contact those voters directly and encourage them to attend the caucuses.
State election officials predict that one-third to one-half of the total Democratic primary vote will be cast early.
"Texas is in play for the first time in many years, and it's encouraging a lot of people to participate. The campaigns are also really well-organized and are paying a lot of attention to them," said Scott Haywood, a spokesman for the Texas Secretary of State's office.
Officials are collecting data on early voting each day from the state's biggest counties, offering a snapshot of turnout as it happens. They've begun seeing some distinct patterns.
The state's two largest counties _ Dallas and Harris, where Houston is located _ are home to educated, affluent Democrats and blacks, groups that typically favor Obama. Officials estimate that early voting turnout in those places is as much as eight to 10 times higher than it was in 2004.
"We're pleased to see a strong turnout in those counties," Obama Texas spokesman Josh Earnest said. "Our supporters are very enthusiastic and eager to get out and vote for him."
But Clinton's campaign officials warn not to make too many assumptions, noting that the majority of voters in both counties were women, many over the age of 50. Older women are among Clinton's only remaining demographic strongholds.
Meanwhile, Clinton's other stronghold, Hispanic voters, are casting early ballots at a rapid clip in South Texas and are projected to wait until primary day to vote in other parts of the state.
"If you factor it all in, overwhelmingly more women than men will vote early in this state," Clinton field organizer Nick Clemons said. "In terms of delegate math, we're going to hold our own."
But even that prediction is risky, based on the complicated way the state apportions its 228 delegates.
Under the turnout formula, Houston gets seven delegates and Dallas gets six while the poorer Hispanic counties that tend to favor Clinton get only three. Clinton hopes to build up delegates in these smaller counties and isolate Obama to the heavily black urban areas.


Updated : 2021-07-26 02:58 GMT+08:00