TEXAS HOLD ‘EM: Showdown At The Ohio Corral


DAYTON BUSINESS JOURNAL: With a day to go before the primary election, a Zogby International poll for Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle that was taken between Feb. 29 and March 2 shows Obama with 47 percent compared with Clinton’s 45 percent. The previous poll from a few days earlier showed Clinton with a narrow 47 percent to 46 percent lead. The same poll showed the race inclintonlittleboy.jpg Texas, which also has its primary Tuesday along with Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont, narrowing. Obama had a four percentage-point lead several days ago, but that has shrunk slight to a three percentage-point lead at 47 percent to 44 percent. MORE

TOP OF THE TICKET: Perhaps as a sign of some shifting political sands spotted in the last 24 hours from internal polling by the Clinton and Obama campaigns, especially in Texas, an independent political group suddenly decided to pour about $650,000 in new advertising into supporting the New York senator today. The American Leadership Project, which is primarily funded by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, had appeared stalled in its pro-Clinton effort by the threat of an Obama lawsuit. But Roger Salazar, who oversees the independent group, confirmed to The Times’ Dan Morain this afternoon that the group had purchased $500,000 of last-minute advertising in Texas and another $150,000 in Ohio. MORE

texas-print-c10327517.jpgTHE DIZZYING CALCULUS OF THE ‘TEXAS TWO-STEP’: Barack Obama has a secret weapon in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Texas, pretty well-known in these parts: George W. Bush. Not that the current president is trying to help the man who criticizes him at every turn. But Bush’s electoral appeal among home-state Hispanics four years ago, combined with his failure to generate significant black support, complicates Hillary Rodham Clinton’s drive to put a significant dent in Obama’s lead in the race for delegates. Even if she wins the popular vote — polls show a close race — the former first lady faces additional obstacles, and could wind up with fewer Texas delegates than her rival. For one, there is the national Democratic Party’s aversion to winner-take-all contests. Then there is a unique same-day primary and caucus system known as the Texas Two-Step.

Bottom line, 126 delegates at stake in the primary on Tuesday, 67 more in caucuses that convene 15 minutes after the polls close, and more than enough complexity to go around. The primary is actually 31 separate contests, one in each of the state’s state Senate districts, with anywhere from two to eight delegates divided between winner andgreetingsfromtexas.jpg loser. That’s where Bush, blacks and Hispanics come in. The 126 primary delegates are distributed across the state based in part on the number of votes cast in the 2004 presidential and 2006 gubernatorial elections, rather than strictly on population. State senate districts that gave Sen. John Kerry or the 2006 gubernatorial candidate, Chris Bell, a majority or even a sizable minority in their votes in 2004 and 2006 are favored with more delegates under the formula. That generally means areas that are home to blacks and liberals, in areas around Houston, Dallas and Austin, for example — groups that have strongly favored Obama.

Election day polls in Texas from four years ago show blacks gave Kerry 83 percent of their votes in 2004, to 17 percent for Bush. Two years later, Bell claimed 63 percent black support in losing a four-way race to Republican aftanafta.jpgGov. Rick Perry. By contrast, Kerry split the Hispanic votes with Bush, 50-49. Bell got less than that, 41 percent. As a result, some state Senate districts with heavy Hispanic populations, including areas around Brownsville and Corpus Christi, have relatively few delegates at stake in this year’s presidential primary. That’s unwelcome news for Clinton, who has won strong support from Hispanic voters in other states. MORE

TOO LATE FOR NAFTA-GATE? The Clinton campaign this morning challenged Barack Obama to respond to a new report that suggests that the Democratic front-runner’s senior economic policy adviser, Austan Goolsbee, told Canadian consulate officials in Chicago to take Obama’s NAFTA criticism with a grain of salt because it was part of “political positioning” with voters in Ohio. Obama’sohio.jpg campaign has consistently denied it had any contact with the Canadian government about his NAFTA position. But an Associated Press report this morning cites a memo written by a consulate staffer about Goolsbee’s meeting with the Canadians in which the adviser is reported to have assured the officials that some of Obama’s Midwest protectionist rhetoric is politics, not policy. Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist, in a call this morning with reporters referred to the kerfuffle as the “developing NAFTA-gate story” and cited a litany of denials from the Obama camp that anyone from the campaign had contact with Canadian officials or that the senator was backing away from his trade position. [via US NEWS & WORLD REPORT]

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