POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Texas Primary: Latest News, Polls On Democratic Race

***UPDATED 3/4***

Read HuffPost's OffTheBus Superdelegate Investigation to find out more about the superdelegates who are likely to decide the Democratic nomination for president.

Latest Texas primary results (81% of precincts reporting):

Clinton 1,275,744 51%
Obama 1,191,488 48%

Latest Texas caucus results (13% of precincts reporting):

Obama 7,907 54%
Clinton 6,742 46%

12:45 -- Networks Call Texas For Clinton: CBS and NBC have declared Clinton the winner in Texas.

12:17 AM -- Does Bill Get The Credit? First Read: "If Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote in Texas, and especially if she doesn't hemorrhage caucus delegates to the extent that many expected her to, her husband can fairly be credited with much of that victory. By a quick rough count, the former president did at least 50 public events in Texas since Obama's sweep of the Potomac Primary states on Feb. 12th made the Lone Star State a must-win contest for the New York Senator."

10:08 -- Chaos At Texas Caucus: The Trail highlights the scene at a caucus in Laredo, Texas:

The scene here at precinct 345 continues to devolve, as our crowd of would-be caucusgoers still has not been allowed to enter the United High School cafeteria. One man, a volunteer organizer, has now brought a microphone and a portable Behringer speaker from home in an effort to address the crowd. He's been drowned out, though, by loud chants of "WE WANT TO VOTE!" and "WE'RE GETTING CHEATED!"

Hardly an endorsement here for the good ol' caucus process. ...

We're beginning to see here in Laredo why it's not always wise to combine beer and politics. The happy tailgaters we met an hour ago in the parking lot of United High School have become a disgruntled bunch loudly cursing everything from Laredo politics to the caucus system in general.

Obama Attorney Crashes Clinton Campaign Conference Call

Update: Politico has audio of the conference call.

Marc Ambinder:

On a Clinton campaign conference call to discuss reports of Obama-inspired voting irregularities in Texas, the second question belonged to Bob Bauer.

"Repeat that?" asked an incredulous -- and bemused -- Howard Wolfson, Clinton's communications director.

Bob Bauer, Barack Obama's chief counsel.

"How is this any different than the series of complaints registered against every caucus that you lose?"

Wolfson disputed that.

Read more here.

Caucus Problems In Texas

Marc Ambinder:

The Clinton campaign said tonight that Obama precinct workers illegally obtained caucus packets in the following Texas caucus precincts:

Precinct 2316 in Tarrant County
Precinct 1205 in Dallas County
Precinct 3127 in Bexar County
Precinct 3082 in Ft. Bend County
Precinct 18/224 in Harris County (Houston)
Precinct 3221 Dallas county
Precinct 87 in El Paso County
Precinct 458 in Travis County

Basically, whoever "gets the packet" controls the caucus. Technically, before the caucus begins at 7:15 CT, the packet is controlled by the precinct judge. But in reality, it might just be laying on a table somewhere. The Clinton campaign claims to have evidence that Obama supporters have, in eight instances, obtained in far in advance, which violates the rules set out by the state party.

Read more here.

On The Ground Coverage: HuffPost's On The Bus ground reporters have brought us incisive coverage of the Texas race, including:

Obama Bests Clinton Reaching Last Minute Voters Online

Watch: On The Ground Reports From Texas

Campaigns Claim Caucus Discrepancies: Both Obama and Clinton camps are crying foul over the behavior of the other sides supporters. As Ben Smith points out, "election day charges from both sides are, as you've probably come to realize, a staple."

Here's Hillary (pdf):

Supporters of a given campaign are requesting convention packets early. Election staff are correctly withholding the packet until 7:15PM or the last voter has cast a ballot. Supporters of a given campaign are prematurely removing packets from polling locations. Election staff have been directed to report these activities to law enforcement since they amount to criminal violations. Removing convention packets or disruption of a polling location while requesting convention packets will not be tolerated.

And Obama:

Election Judge is giving people who can't come back for the caucus a piece of paper with a signature line and write in candidate line. She is telling them that they can sign this and their votes will be entered later. When our precinct captain brought it to her attention and showed her the rules, she became irate.

Turnout Strong, Counties Brace For Caucus Chaos: Anecdotes across the state have confirmed what early voting implied: Texans are out to vote. Meanwhile, the real excitement comes tonight, when the caucus begins:

A major point of concern for Democrats will be verifying who is allowed to participate in the caucus. The basic rule is that you can participate if you voted in the Democratic primary -- but there is no single list to confirm that.

Ideally, voters bring their proof of voting. The proof can be a stamped voter registration card or a special form handed out at the polling place. But during early voting, some polling places ran out of the form....

..."It may become essentially impossible to verify if people voted or not," Birnberg said. In that case, the county party's advice is to allow everyone to "sign in" and participate in the caucus. Over the next few days, party workers will verify that all the participants voted in the primary.

Clinton Texas Coordinator: '3 AM' Ad Too Late: "Garry Mauro, a longtime Clinton family friend and the Texas state coordinator for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., told ABC News that the Clinton campaign waited too long before challenging the national security credentials of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill."

"I find it fascinating that asking the question 'Who do you want to answer a telephone at 3 o'clock in the morning when there is a problem?' is a big problem," Mauro said about the controversial Clinton ad running in Texas that implies Obama would not effectively be able to keep the nation safe. "That is a question that should have been asked from day one."

Asked if he was faulting the campaign's senior advisers for waiting until the waning days of the Texas race before running that ad, Mauro said, "I am from Texas and we get to second-guess everybody. We get to second-guess our football coaches first and our politicians next. And yeah, I can second-guess their political decisions just like I second-guess the calls that are played on the football field, but that doesn't accomplish much."

Final Polls Show Clinton With Slight Lead:A handful of late polls have Clinton eking out a slight lead in Texas, albeit within the margins for error:

The Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle survey shows Sen. Hillary Clinton has retaken a narrow lead over rival Sen. Barack Obama in Texas, 47% to 44%, and has deadlocked the race in Ohio, 44% to 44%.

The American Research Group poll in Texas has Clinton leading Obama, 50% to 47%. In Ohio, Clinton leads 56% to 42%.

The Belo Texas Tracking Poll shows Clinton edging Obama, 46% to 45%.

An Insider Advantage poll in Texas finds Clinton leading Obama, 49% to 44%.

Pro-Hillary 527 On The Air In Texas (via TPM):

The American Leadership Project, the 527 group that was set up in order to run ads promoting Hillary Clinton in the upcoming primaries, has a new ad airing in Texas.

Watch the video here.

Clinton: I'm Just Getting Warmed Up (3/3):

"I am not a political pundit. I will leave that to all of you," she said. "I think I know what's happening, and I believe we are going to do well tomorrow, and I believe that's going to be a very significant message to the country. And then we move on to Pennsylvania and the states beyond. So, I'm just getting warmed up."

McCain Looking To Seal The Deal (3/3):

Mr. McCain's advisers had hoped that Mr. McCain would win enough delegates in Tuesday's races to put him over the top and secure the 1,191 delegates necessary for the Republican nomination. But even if Mr. McCain wins all of them -- there are 256 Republican delegates at stake in Tuesday's contests -- he will not have enough to claim the nomination, according to tallies by The New York Times.

Nonetheless, The Associated Press has conducted a survey of superdelegates, which would give McCain another 102 unpledged delegates. If those are included in Tuesday's count, Mr. McCain might have enough if he wins handily on Tuesday.

Survey USA: Texas Tied (3/3): SurveyUSA's final poll shows the candidates in a dead heat after Hillary gains back a few points lost last week:

36 hours till votes are counted in the Texas Democratic Primary, contest is a Jump Ball, with Obama's momentum now slowed, and possibly stalled, according to SurveyUSA's final pre-Primary poll conducted for KTRK-TV Houston, KTVT-TV Dallas, and KRLD-AM radio Dallas. Two weeks ago, Clinton led by 5 points. Last week, Obama led by 4 points. Now, Obama leads by 6/10ths of 1 point, effectively tied, and completely consistent with either candidate winning tomorrow by a narrow margin.

PPP Poll: Hillary Regains Lead In Texas (3/3): Hillary looks like she might be pulling away with the last-minute lead in Texas, according to a recent poll (pdf):

Clinton 50% (+2)
Obama 44% (-4)

Obama Airs Two-Minute Closing Argument (3/3): Obama has bought a spot on broadcast news programs the night before the vote:

Latino Voters May Help Obama (3/3): Comity between blacks and Latinos may help Obama in Texas, reports the Wall Street Journal:

Lately that has begun to change, in Texas and elsewhere. In many big cities, virtually all the population growth in traditionally African-American voting districts now comes from newly arrived immigrants, mainly from Latin America. And that isn't leading only to tension.

Blacks and Latinos are forming political coalitions to achieve mutual goals. Last year, blacks and Latinos in Texas bonded to defeat a Republican proposal for strict voter identification. In Texas, Latinos make up almost 36% of the population, blacks about 12%; nationally, Latinos are 15% and blacks are 12%.

Candidates Reaching Out To Evangelical Democrats (3/2): Both candidates are reaching out to religious voters, who have played a large role in some recent primaries:

A poll by the organization Faith in Public Life found that one in three white evangelical voters who participated in Super Tuesday primaries in Missouri and Tennessee voted Democratic. Texas is home to many evangelical voters, including Democrats in culturally conservative East Texas and churchgoing black voters in urban centers and Hispanics in South Texas.

MSNBC Poll: Dems Tied (3/2): Another poll shows a close race, with a health number of undecided voters:

The result: It's a Texas nail-biter on the eve of the Tuesday elections, according to a Star-Telegram/McClatchy/MSNBC poll of likely Democratic primary voters. It's 46 percent for Obama and 45 percent for Clinton with 8 percent undecided. In statistical terms, that means it's a dead-even contest in the largest state left to vote.

Clinton Supporter Slams "Exceedingly Unfair Texas Caucus System CNN reports:

Former HUD secretary and Hillary Clinton supporter Henry Cisneros excoriated Texas' arcane electoral process as "a great burden on voters" and said that losing the delegate count on Tuesday because of the state caucuses would be "exceedingly unfair."

Cisneros was speaking to a group of Clinton volunteers who had gathered on Saturday morning at Fox Tech High School to train for Tuesday evening's state caucuses, which follow a day of primary voting. One-third of the state's pledged delegates are allocated through the caucuses, while the rest are determined by the day's primary vote.

Clinton Aides Threatened Lawsuit Over Caucus Process (2/29): McClatchy is reporting that the Clinton officials suggested they would sue the Texas Democratic Party over the state's complicated caucus system:

Democratic sources said both campaigns have made it clear that they might consider legal options over the complicated delegate selection process, which includes both a popular vote and evening caucuses. But the sources made it clear that the Clinton campaign in particular had warned of an impending lawsuit.

"Both campaigns have made it clear that they would go there if they had to, but I think the imminent threat is coming from one campaign,'' said one top Democratic official, referring to the Clinton campaign. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another Democratic official who was privvy to the discussions confirmed that Clinton representatives made veiled threats in a telephone call this week.

Marc Ambinder has more, including a denial from Clinton's top Texas strategist.

I asked Guy Cecil, the national political director for the Clinton campaign, where he ""forcefully raise[d] the prospect of a courtroom battle?" as suggested by the Houston Chronicle.

"Absolutely not. There was no threat, 'direct or veiled' to engage in litigation. We asked that the results of the call be put in writing," he said.

Mo Elliethee, a Clinton campaign spokesman, elaborated for me.

"The campaigns have been discussing primary night procedures and we asked for those procedures to be put in writing before we agree to them. It is standard operating procedure for our campaign - and we presume any campaign - to see what we are agreeing to in writing before we agree to it."

InsiderAdvantage Poll: Hillary Has Momentum: "InsiderAdvantage's latest survey in Texas shows a shift, at least temporarily, in momentum in the Democratic race for president. An earlier InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion survey conducted Monday night for the Southern Political Report showed Sen. Barack Obama with a one-point lead in the contest."

But a survey of 591 registered voters who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary in Texas conducted last night (February 27) indicates that Sen. Hillary Clinton has regained the lead in a race that remains within the survey's margin of error. The results were:

Clinton: 47%
Obama: 43%
Undecided: 10%
The survey has been weighted for age, race, gender and political affiliation. Margin of error +/- 4%

InsiderAdvantage/Creator's Syndicate's Matt Towery:

"This is a classic sign that a race might be starting to turn. We see the undecided voters increasing and unsettled numbers in key age brackets. Moreover, Clinton has expanded her lead among Hispanic voters, while holding onto white votes. She has dropped slightly among women, but has gained among men.

"Let me stress that these polls are snapshots of the moment. I am not yet willing to say that there is a definitive trend, such as the one that our polling on Super Tuesday detected for Mike Huckabee in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

Rasmussen Poll: Obama Takes Lead: Obama has taken a 4-point lead in Texas, albeit with a large number of undecided voters:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows Obama attracting 48% of the vote while Clinton earns 44%. Eight percent (8%) remain undecided and another 12% say it's possible they could change their mind. That latter figure includes 3% who say there's a good chance they could change their mind.

Clinton Fans Form 527: A group of Clinton supporters have started a group to defend attacks on both Democratic candidates:

With about a week to go before the critical Democratic presidential primary in Texas, several supporters of Senator Clinton have formed a new political organization in the state promising to tackle explosive issues of race and gender in the campaign for the White House.

"We believe that America's progress is dependent on providing real solutions to the challenges facing America today and tomorrow regardless of our President's race or gender," the fledgling group, Americans for Progress, declares on its Web site, americansforprogress.org, which is under construction. "As a group of Multi-Cultural men we intend to ensure that gender and racial bias do not consume the hearts and minds of the American people. We stand on a platform that neutralizes the forces of gender and race bigotry so Americans can focus on the issues."

MoveOn Plans Phone Barrage: MoveOn is planning a massive phone-banking the weekend before Texas' primary:

Texans who've made up their minds between the two Democratic presidential contenders, who don't want to hear anything more about the campaign or who simply don't care to chat with strangers best head for the hills this Sunday.

That's because the political arm of MoveOn.org, the liberal online advocacy group that is nothing if not energetic, plans to swamp the state with telephone phone calls that day urging support for their candidate of choice, Barack Obama.

Houston Superdelegate Switches Endorsement: Another superdelegate has defected from Hillary Clinton:

Democratic superdelegate and state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, of Houston, defected from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign on Wednesday and joined a growing list of superdelegates to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president, his campaign said.

"I'm honored to have earned the support of Representative Thompson and am pleased that she'll play an important role in advancing our grassroots movement for change in Houston and across Texas," Obama said in a statement. "Throughout her three decades in the Legislature, she's been a tireless advocate for working families and when I'm president we'll work together to put the American dream within reach of every child in Texas and across our country."

Former Texas Governor Endorses Obama: One of only a few members of a Democratic establishment in Texas has made his decision:

Houston lawyer Mark White, one of the two surviving Democratic governors of Texas, says he's endorsing Barack Obama for president today because he's "essentially become America's candidate. You see people from all walks of life, rich and poor, every color reflected, every ethnicity. There's enthusiasm, hope. He will not only be nominated, he will be elected president. He will be America's president."

Chelsea Clinton Calls Texas Must-Win: Chelsea confirmed her father's opinion in Lubbock:

Speaking at Texas Tech in Lubbock tonight, Chelsea Clinton was asked if she agrees with her father's recent comments in Beaumont about Texas and Ohio being must win states.

"I think we do have to win in Texas," Chelsea said. "And I think we will win in Texas if we work hard."

Hillary's New Spanish Language Ad:

SUSA Poll: Obama Now Ahead: "In a Democratic Primary in Texas today, 02/25/08, 8 days till votes are counted, Barack Obama moves ever-so-slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton, though at the edge of the margin of sampling error... Today, it's Obama 49%, Clinton 45%. Compared to a SurveyUSA tracking poll released one week ago, Obama is up 4 points, Clinton is down 5 points.

Among Hispanic voters, Clinton led by 33 points last week, leads by 13 points today. Among women, Clinton had led by 27, now by 11. Among voters younger than Barack Obama, Obama had led by 6, now by 22. In North Texas (which includes Dallas and Fort Worth), Clinton had led by 2, now trails by 19. In East Texas (which includes Houston), Obama had led by 5, now leads by 18. Among registered Democrats, Clinton had led by 14, now by 2. Among voters focused on the Economy, Clinton had led by 5, now trails by 11. Among those who attend religious services regularly, Clinton had led by 7, now trails by 15. Among Pro-Life voters, Clinton had led by 1, now trails by 14. Among seniors, Liberals, voters in Central Texas, South Texas and West Texas, Clinton's support is holding.

Latest CNN Poll In Texas: Obama has a four-point lead, 50% to 46%:

In the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday, 50 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said Obama is their choice for the party's nominee, while 46 percent backed Clinton.

But taking into account the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for Democratic respondents, the race is a virtual tie.

Latest Rasmussen Poll In Texas: Clinton clings to a one-point lead over Obama, 46% to 45%:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in Texas finds Senator Hillary Clinton clinging to a one-point lead over Senator Barack Obama. With just over a week to go, it's Clinton 46% Obama 45%. Nine percent (9%) of voters remain undecided and another 14% say it's possible they could still change their mind.

Last week, Clinton led Obama by three percentage points. The week before, she had a sixteen-point advantage.

Texas Dems Outvoting GOP 3-1: After three days of early voting, Texas Dems are outvoting Republicans in 14 of the state's 15 largest counties:

What is different about this election -- and the early vote reflects it -- is the intensity of the interest. The overwhelming unpopularity of George W. Bush and everything his presidency represented is driving the turnout nationally and in Texas, and here you can add contempt for the Perry-Dewhurst-Craddick leadership. Whether voters actually absorbed the knowledge that this is the first election with no heir-apparent or just sensed it as part of the zeitgeist, they are driven to make a clean break with the past and have a personal stake in rejecting Bush. I don't think it matters what these new voters' history was -- whether they were non-voters or just general election voters or onetime Reagan Democrats coming home. They are voters now. Even if they are Republicans, they are most likely the moderates who didn't vote in primaries. And they will make the Republican primary more moderate.

University Of Texas Student Paper Backs Clinton: The Daily Texan:

As voters, we're often torn between our hearts and our minds when making crucial decisions concerning the welfare of the country. This endorsement is no different.

In the past year, we have been entranced by the powerful timbre of Barack Obama's voice. We have felt our hearts soar with each progressive idea he has put forth, especially his call for youth action and enrollment in public service programs. But we do not think he is the wisest choice for president. George W. Bush has made a mess of America, and we believe Hillary Clinton is the best person to clean it up. She is prepared and willing to be a leader who is "a lot less hat and a lot more cattle," as she stated during Thursday night's debate.

New Clinton Ad:

Obama Security Lapse (2/22): Dallas police officers are complaining about the decision to stop weapons screening at an Obama rally of 17,000 people:

Security details at Barack Obama's rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena. The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department's homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order -- apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service -- was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant seats before Obama came on.

Viva Obama! A video by Obama supporters:

Poll: Clinton Leads By One Point (2/21): A new poll from NBC's KXAN affiliate in Texas:

The War in Iraq has dropped from the number one determing factor for voters. The economy is at the top of the list for supporters of Clinton, McCain and Paul. Immigration tops the list for supporters of Huckabee and Affecting Change in Washington is the top reason voters support Obama.

The race for the Democratic nomination is too close to call. The large percentage of "undecided" voters give even more weight to the CNN debates Thursday evening. As Senators Clinton and Obama both tour Texas, they will be reaching out to the undecideds to close the gap.

If the election were held today, who would you vote for? Democrats:

Clinton 46%

Obama 45%

Undecided 9%

Margin of error: +/- 4%

Early Voting Up 1000 Percent (2/21): Democrats are turning out in large numbers to cast their votes early in this year's primary:

Turnout on the first day of early voting was up all across Texas, according to initial numbers from the Secretary of State's office. But Houston and Dallas were off the charts -- the numbers show a 10-fold increase over 2004. In Harris County four years ago, only 728 people showed up for the Democratic primary on the first day of early voting. Yesterday it was 9,243.

In Dallas, the first-day turnout jumped from 913 in 2004 to 8,615 yesterday. That would seem good news for Obama. Other urban counties such as Travis (Austin) and Bexar (San Antonio) showed six-fold increases. In El Paso, it tripled.

Turnout was up too in the Rio Grande Valley, an expected Clinton stronghold, but the increase wasn't as dramatic. In Hidalgo County, the number of voters rose from 3,858 (2004) to 5,793 (2008).

David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager, told Texas reporters this afternoon on a conference call that the campaign has emphasized ushering supporters to the polls early and was very encouraged by the early voting numbers so far. Early voting ends Feb. 29.

Clinton Has Trouble Packing The House: "Hillary Clinton arrived to a much smaller crowd at rally at Dodge Arena this evening, compared to just one week ago at a rally in El Paso where Clinton drew over 10,000 people to the University of Texas. But in Hidalgo, where the arena seats 6,800 in a concert setting, the attendance was much less than that and made painfully obvious by the several hundred seats that were empty."

Candidates Wooing Hispanics: The Austin American-Statesman reports that Texas' Hispanic community is still largely up for grabs, and Hillary Clinton pushed hard for their vote during a rally Thursday in Laredo.

Politico reports that Hispanics are "playing hard to get."

The problem for Obama -- and for Clinton as well, to some degree -- is that the Latino community in Texas is so complex and diverse that it makes a targeted appeal (or pander) a very tricky business.

In other words, reaching these voters is not as simple as tossing around a few words in Spanish.

"If you are not Hispanic, my advice to candidates would be, 'Don't do it. It's not you,'" said Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), who represents a San Antonio congressional district previously held by his father. "Hispanics appreciate some Spanish, but not necessarily so."

For the Obama campaign, there are generational distinctions to make among Hispanic voters, stylistic differences to account for and even ideological and racial divides to be bridged. On top of all that, there is the matter of keeping Hispanic voters involved in the critical but convoluted weeks-long state delegate selection process.

Setting The Stakes (2/21): Bill Clinton has painted Texas as a crucial win for his wife's campaign, as she courts small towns across Texas. Obama, on the other hand, is focusing on larger venues like Dallas and Houston:

Clinton is hugging the border so far in her Texas campaign in the hopes of securing the bulk of Hispanic votes, which make up to half the Democratic voting population in Texas. But in doing so in small cities, she's drawing smaller crowds than Obama, who's drawing tens of thousands of people at sports arena rallies in Dallas and Houston.

Former President Bill Clinton put the stakes of the March 4 votes at an appearance in Beaumont earlier Wednesday.

"If she wins in Texas and Ohio, I think she'll be the nominee," he told a crowd. "If you don't deliver for her, I don't think she can be."

Texas's delegate-awarding system gives more delegates in areas with good voter turnout records. The Rio Grande Valley's turnout lags behind more urban areas in the north, so Clinton could win the primary vote but still not win a proportional share of the delegates from Hispanic areas.

Obama and Clinton debate Thursday in Austin then Obama makes his first visit to the Valley with a stop in Edinburg Friday.

U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy campaigned for him there Wednesday and Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa and Edinburg Mayor Pro-Tem Gus Garcia endorsed Obama. Obama rallied in Dallas earlier Wednesday, after stops in Houston and San Antonio Tuesday.

Hillary's "Vote Early" Ad (2/21): Hillary's ad targeting Latinos in Texas is encouraging them to vote early in the primary:

Hillary Clinton has this new ad running in Texas, aimed at the Latino community and asking people to vote early for "our friend." The ad is running in both English and Spanish.

Interestingly, the ad doesn't talk about issues or tell the viewers anything compelling about Hillary -- it's entirely about the logistical process of how to go vote for her. And on top of that it stars Henry Cisneros, who in 1999 pled guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI, and was then pardoned by Bill Clinton in January 2001.

Texas Congressman Backs Obama (2/20): "Congressman Lloyd Doggett announced Wednesday that he endorses Senator Barack Obama for president. Doggett is a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention."

"When he stands up, all the world will know that America really has changed, that the disastrous policies of the last eight years have ended," Doggett said in a media release.

He represents the 25th District of Texas. It includes Hays, Caldwell and Bastrop counties and part of Travis County, including Austin.

"My decision is not based on what is wrong with another candidate, but what is right with him," Doggett said.

Hillary's Ground Team (2/19): Aides to the Hillary Clinton announced that the campaign has 4,000 precinct captains:

The campaign has 20 offices open with 4,000 precinct captains recruited.

Clinton's Texas state director, Ace Smith, said that the campaign "intends to beat Obama" among young voters in the state, just as they did in California.

Smith predicted the campaign would win both the "primary" portion of the Texas vote and the "caucus" portion because all caucus goers are required to have voted in the primaries.

Clinton Highlights Support For Expanded Oil Drilling (2/19): MyDD blogger Texas Nate notes, "In a bright contrast to the tough talk about reigning in the oil companies she did in New Hampshire, Clinton is now making nice with the oil companies."

Clinton said her White House agenda would include environmentally friendly policies that would create millions of jobs. But she said the plan "also recognizes the continuing vital role of the oil and gas industry," another huge Houston-area employer.

She said she voted for legislation to expand oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico because she backs such projects that have local support and are environmentally sound. Obama voted against, she added.

"I think on that issue alone, I should be able to make a strong case to the energy community" for support, the New York senator said.

Clinton added that energy companies have to be part of a national push for conservation and cleaner energy sources.

Hillary Holds Five-Point Lead (2/19): Survey USA's poll, released today, has Hillary Clinton holding a five-point lead over rival Barack Obama:

Hillary Clinton: 50%
Barack Obama: 45%

Dems Tied In CNN Poll (2/18): A poll released today finds Hillary Clinton's lead nearly erased in Texas, one of the two states where she is staking her campaign's viability:

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll suggests the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination between Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois is a statistical dead heat in Texas, which holds primaries March 4.

In the survey, out Monday, 50 percent of likely Democratic primary voters support Clinton as their choice for the party's nominee, with 48 percent backing Obama.

But taking into account the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 4½ percentage points for Democratic respondents, the race is a virtual tie.

Two recent polls by other organizations also show the race statistically even.

Texas Attorney General Endorses Clinton (2/18): Not to be outdone, Hillary announced her endorsement from former Congressman and Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox (D-TX):

"In Texas we have a phrase, 'she's earned her spurs.' Hillary has spent more than 35 years earning her spurs and she is the best leader for our country," said General Mattox. "Whether working for universal health care or passing legislation to protect our nation's veterans, Hillary has spent a lifetime fighting for the American people. Hillary does more than just deliver beautiful speeches, she delivers results."

Texas Rep. Endorses Obama (2/18): Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) -- whose district is the most Republican district in the nation that is represented by a Democrat -- has endorsed Barack Obama:

Edwards is chairman of the House subcommittee on military construction and veterans affairs. He said he has "spent most of my adult life fighting for veterans and for military troops and their families," and is convinced Obama will champion them as well.

The day Texas holds its primary, Edwards is scheduled to receive a Veterans of Foreign Wars award given annually to one member of Congress.

Texas System Worries Clinton Camp (2/18): "Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that convoluted delegate rules in Texas could water down the impact of strong support for her among Hispanic voters there, creating a new obstacle for her in the must-win presidential primary contest," the Washington Post reports.

Several top Clinton strategists and fundraisers became alarmed after learning of the state's unusual provisions during a closed-door strategy meeting this month, according to one person who attended.

What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa's heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston -- where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support -- could yield three or four times as many delegates.

"What it means is, she could win the popular vote and still lose the race for delegates," Hinojosa said yesterday. "This system does not necessarily represent the opinions of the population, and that is a serious problem."

The disparity in delegate distribution is just one of the unusual aspects of Texas's complex system for apportioning delegates. The scheme has been in use for two decades but is coming under increased scrutiny because the March 4 presidential contest is the first in years that gives the state a potentially decisive voice in choosing the party's nominee.

As ABC's Jake Tapper notes, Texas bloggers are mocking the Clinton campaign for only just realizing these rules, which have been in place for some time. Here's TX blogger Publius:

Good lord, let's see if I have this right. The Clinton campaign decides to cede every post-Super Tuesday state to Obama under the theory that Texas and Ohio will be strong firewalls. After - after - implementing this Rudy-esque strategy, they 'discovered' that the archaic Texas rules will almost certainly result in a split delegate count (at best).

While they were busy 'discovering' the rules, however, the Obama campaign had people on the ground in Texas explaining the system, organizing precincts, and making Powerpoints. I know because I went to one of these meetings a week ago. I should have invited Mark Penn I suppose. (ed. Maybe foresight is an obsolete macrotrend.)

Clinton's Texas Roots: "When the Texas primary campaign begins in earnest after Tuesday's vote in Wisconsin, Obama will find stories such as this [local Texas officials siding with Clinton] all over the Lone Star State. From her incidental connections...described from the 1992 campaign, to deep friendships formed working in Texas during the 1972 presidential campaign of George McGovern, to acquaintances gained from multiple visits over the past decades, Clinton is rooted in Texas as she is in few other states."

Miscellaneous News (2/18): "Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera stumps for Hillary in Texas. Dallas' delegate rich district could decide the Texas race, and here's why.

Obama Could Lose Popular Vote But Win Most Delegates: The Dallas Morning News notes that, because the number of delegates per district are decided by the turnout in the last election, when African American turnout was high, Obama could lose the popular vote in Texas but win the most delegates:

As it happens, the state Senate districts with the most delegates - Austin, Houston and Dallas - are all seen as prime Obama territory.

As a result of that and other quirks in the process, it is possible that even if Mrs. Clinton wins the popular vote on March 4 - and declares victory that evening - Mr. Obama could actually come away with more delegates.

Can Texas Latinos Save Hillary? Newsweek investigates.

Volunteers Turn Out For Hillary: Over 1100 volunteers dropped by the Hillary Clinton headquarters in Austin on Saturday, according to a Clinton campaign Texas director.

Houston Chronicle Endorses Obama: The paper argues that policy-wise, there is little difference between the candidates. However, on the issue of leadership:

He offers a historic opportunity to elevate national political dialogue to a higher ground. Those who insist on vitriol and obstructionism would be marginalized.

Obama Lands Endorsement Of Austin Mayor: Mayor Will Wynn mentioned the candidates' energy policy as a major factor in his endorsement:

"For too long, we've allowed old divisions to hold us back," Wynn said. "Recently I've had conversations about energy policy with presidential candidates from both parties, and I believe Senator Obama is the only person who can move us forward on this critical issue.

"Barack Obama gets it. He offers a commitment to confront our energy challenges in ways that will unite our country, help our economy flourish and protect our planet and national security for the next generation and beyond."

Record Turnout Expected: The Texas Democratic Party is expecting a voter turnout somewhere around 2 million people:

State party chairman Boyd Richie predicted Democratic turnout would exceed the modern record of 1.8 million voters in the 1988 presidential primary. The past two Texas presidential primaries have drawn around 800,000 Democrats each.

"I will be shocked and stunned if it isn't a new record for Texas," said Richie, who also expects unprecedented participation in precinct caucuses after the polls close. "We're seeing excitement like we've never seen before."

Obama's Texas Test: The Washington Post's Dan Balz argues that Texas represents Obama big chance to prove that he can win over Latino voters, a block that will be important in a general election:

The Latino community is a critical piece of any Democratic candidate's general election calculations. Against John McCain, who has championed comprehensive immigration reform to his detriment in the Republican primaries, the Democratic nominee will face an opponent who begins the general election with a credible chance of holding a solid minority of the Hispanic vote.

President Bush made significant inroads in the Latino community in his reelection campaign four years ago, and while there is evidence that the immigration debate has hurt Republicans with Latino voters, McCain may be able to escape the fallout from some of the angriest anti-illegal immigration rhetoric and compete for those voters.

Ground forces: Obama will open ten new state offices in Texas on February 16th.

Polls for 2/15: Hillary Clinton is leading in three of four polls released today, with a margin of victory ranging from 7-16%.

Understanding Texas: Texas combines both a primary and a caucus, where delegates are awarded according to results in each contest. Marc Ambinder explains how it will work on primacaucus day.