You might have heard that we have a primary election here in Texas tomorrow. If you haven’t heard, then you need to get your hearing checked, as well as your vision, your Internet connection, and your TV reception. This primary is a bona fide Big Deal. It could put John McCain over the top in the Republican primary, and decide between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. It’s a dogfight. A battleground. And everyone is watching us — well, us and a few other minor states like Ohio.
Here’s a few notes and observations from the front line:
- This is my sixth presidential primary since moving to Texas. I cannot recall any of the previous five in which the candidates were not already decided by the time our primary came around. Everybody I ask agrees with that recollection. This time, Texas matters, and it’s a nice change. However, I tried to find some numbers on the Internet to validate my memory, but could not find a site with the relevant statistics.
- Every other commercial on TV seems to be a political ad. We have seen Hillary’s “3 AM phone call” ad. We have seen Obama’s response. We have seen lots of ads for Mike Huckabee, and a surprising number of ads for pseudo-Libertarian and local wacko Ron Paul. I don’t remember seeing any for McCain; that may be because the GOP primary is nearly his. I can tell you this with certainty: I’m sick and tired of hearing “…and I approve this message.” Really? Would you do the voice-over for or appear in an ad that you didn’t approve?
- The only ad I have seen that does not feature a candidate is an ad for Obama by the Service Employees International Union.
- We have early voting in Texas, and last Friday I went to vote. In previous early voting, even in presidential elections, you can expect to see two or three of the voting booths in use. On Friday, every booth was busy, there was a line of 7 people at the Democratic party desk, but no waiting at the Republican desk. I had expected an even longer line, but was afraid that Tuesday would be a zoo. Early voting was the right thing to do.
- I voted for Barack Obama. I like the man, and I’m afraid that Hillary would be business as usual. I’m not convinced that I’ll vote for him in the fall, though; I could still find myself voting for McCain in the general election.
- I talked to a number of Republican supporters voting in the Democratic primary. They were all voting for Hillary, on the theory that she was more beatable in the fall than Obama would be. That’s a dangerous strategy, though. I remember Dad voting for Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primary in 1976, for the very same reason. We all know what happened in the general election that year.
- The Democratic party in Texas has a weird way of selecting delegates, called the Texas two-step. 75% of the delegates are chosen in the primary election, and 25% by a multi-stage caucus. The first level of caucuses are held at 7:15 PM on election day, with county and state caucuses held in the following weeks to ultimately choose the final 25% of the state’s delegates. I’m curious about what this process is like, and want to provide as much support for Obama as I can, so I am planning to attend the caucus at my polling place tomorrow evening.
- Dwight Silverman at the Houston Chronicle was looking for people to live-Twitter the goings on at their local caucuses, and I volunteered. I have already set up Wendy’s Treo to work with Twitter, and I’ll be sending updates as events proceed. The Chronicle will be catching my updates and posting them to their blogwatch blog. You can follow my updates on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jimthompson, or at chron.com’s Blogwatch.
- We have had an invasion of rats in the garage here at Pine Gulch, and I have been catching a lot of them in traps — both glue traps and spring traps. For a while, I wondered whether this invasion might be in some way caused by the invasion of politicos to our state. Since then, I’ve decided that it’s just an unusual coincidence, because I catch more rats when I bait the traps with peanut butter than when I bait them with double martinis.