With a couple of weeks between contests, the next round of primaries and caucuses are receiving the kind of scrutiny not seen since the pre-Iowa days (Remember those days...when we were still singing Christmas carols? This campaign has already been long and we aren't even out of February yet.). The rules in Texas and the playing field in Ohio have been examined within this space over the last several weeks. However, the broader political science community is starting to weigh in with some actual data from Texas. Now, while NPR will simply state, as they did this morning, that early voting had commenced in both the prized states of March 4, some have gone beyond that to look into what the early information (from the fifteen largest counties) released by the Texas secretary of state's office actually mean.
The folks at both Election Updates and The Monkey Cage have some interesting analysis and commentary on what is coming out of Texas. Former UT graduate student and current John Jay College professor, Brian Arbor has found that early voting turnout is up versus four years ago, and that the increase is in areas that have demographic characteristics similar to voters that have gone with Obama in other states. There are caveats to these findings, to be sure, but some of this information is backed up by Paul Gronke over at Election Updates, who has done a lot of research on the impact of early voting. He cites the Wall Street Journal article that discusses Hidalgo County having the highest proportion of early voting. However, it is also one of the counties in a state senate district that has the fewest delegates at stake; just two. So while Hidalgo is full of the Hispanic voters that Clinton has targeted and proportionally is voting early, it may not in the end help Clinton all that much.
Both points give Obama an edge and must be ominous signs to the Clinton camp in Texas.
In other news, NPR has been discussing the presidential race with noted conservatives this week. Grover Norquist's interview came up in the comments yesterday. This series of interviews has been fertile ground for one-liners. Norquist maintained that McCain played dead last summer (through no fault of his own) and ultimately benefited from the scrutiny his opponents underwent. Today, the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy chief, Richard Land, had a great comment about the Democratic race. He said that Clinton was "on a job interview" while Obama was "on a date." And that really is an interesting way to frame and a testament to the Obama momentum/movement within the Democratic party (and outside of it with independents).
John Lewis made it official yesterday: he's switching over to Obama in a nod to the voices of the constituents within his Georgia congressional district. Now I'll have to see if that change has been reflected in the running tally at Superdelegates.org and on their GEarth layer. This story has already played its way out because of the New York Times story recently, but it still isn't a welcome sign with the Clinton campaign.
Finally, New York mayor (I bet you think I'm going to say Rudy Giuliani. Nope, but I have written that phrase a lot during this cycle, though a lot less lately.), Michael Bloomberg, ended the speculation that he would enter the presidential race as an independent today. And that officially brings to a close the discussions of an all New York race. Yes, it was as recently as late last summer that that was a talking point within the live discussion group here at UGA. And at the time it seemed conceivable that it could happen with Clinton the frontrunner on the Democratic side and Guiliani leading in the polls amongst the Republican candidates. C'est la vie, all New York presidential race.