Today I am delighted to be a Texas Democrat! I have operated a three-precinct voting site at the current location half-a-block from my home since 2001, and I have never seen this kind of turnout. Something is changing - big time - in Texas politics, and it is for the better.
Yesterday I ran the Democratic primary vote for three precincts, then turned around tried to pull some degree of organization out of the chaos that was the caucuses for those three precincts. I had as many primary voters as I did general election voters in 2004.
Early voting gave us warning that the turnout for the Primary was going to be big. Normally Texas Democrats don't waste much time on politics until a few weeks before the general election, but this time the question of whether Clinton or Obama would be the Presidential nominee was still up in the air, and people wanted to have their say. So they turned out to vote in large numbers, and then, amazingly, they came back at 7:15PM for the caucuses to decided who the delegates to the county and state conventions were going to be.
The early vote provided a warning that the turnout for the primary was going to be larger than expected, and both the Democratic Party and the County elections administrator beefed up the personnel and machines. What amazed me was the caucuses.
In 2004 we held caucuses for the three precincts, and we had five people. We could have held them in a phone booth and Superman could still have changed his costume. Last night nearly 200 people showed up - all at once. I'd have been really happy with 50.
So I didn't have the room, and I didn't have time to figure out how to handle it on the fly. So I grabbed three people, one of whom I knew, handed them the packets I had only read through twice myself, opened two classrooms in the church we caucused in, got people qualified and signed in, and my three "volunteers", organized the delegations and elected delegates to the next convention prior to the state convention. It WAS disorganized, and we DIDN'T have enough room to do what we were doing, and I apologize to those people who came out to let us know they consider this Primary/caucus really important. But I think we pulled it off.
I think Texas is ready for a change. But I also think this was a result of the media interest. Without the contest between Clinton and Obama, the media would have ignored the Texas Primary/Caucus like it normally does, and I could have run my caucuses in a phone booth again. So don't tell me the media doesn't create the news. They sure did yesterday in Texas.
So in spite of all the doom-saying and whining I have read and heard today, I think the competition between Clinton and Obama is making this election season work. It will continue to do so, right up to the National Democratic Convention. Since McCain now has the Republican nomination locked up, the Democratic competition is going to suck the media attention out of McCain's sails,so that the Democrats will dominate the media.
Then, just before the Democratic Convention the Party is going to select the nominee in a way that acknowledges that we have two very qualified and ground-breaking candidates, so that whatever the agreement is will build a real Democratic groundswell in the campaign for the General election. What's that agreement going to be? If anyone could tell, they won't, because the uncertainty is what is sucking in the media.
A side effect of all that is that the Texas Democratic voters are going to turn out in November in record numbers, so that state-wide offices are going to go Democratic for the first time since George Bush defeated Ann Richards in 1994.
So, yeah. Yesterday was a really exciting day for Texas Democrats.