The Texas Primary: A 2020 Guide

Learn more about the Texas primary and how Texas voters play a large role in determining presidential nominees.
A “vote here” sign in Texas, 2016. (Jay Phagan from Taft, Texas/Creative Commons)

A “vote here” sign in Texas, 2016. (Jay Phagan from Taft, Texas/Creative Commons)

When is the Texas primary?

Technically, Texas has primaries on Super Tuesday (March 3, 2020), but early voting means voters can cast their ballots several weeks earlier, even before the Nevada or South Carolina primaries. Early voting begins at the end of February and lasts ten days (until February 28th). If voters miss that window, they can still cast their votes for the primary at the ballot box on Super Tuesday.

Early voting is a popular choice in Texas and state officials estimate nearly half of voters cast their ballots early. This can lead to some confusion however since the early voting window means some votes will be cast for candidates that could drop out of the race by Super Tuesday. Texas is one of 14 states that hold their Democratic primaries on March 3rd. Polls are open throughout the state of Texas from 7 am to 7 pm local time.

How many winnable delegates does Texas offer?

Texas has a delegate system that requires candidates to receive at least 15 percent of the statewide vote of state senatorial districts to be eligible to earn delegates. Texas sends 261 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, (228 designated delegates), one of the biggest delegations in the United States. The Texas delegates also represent one of the largest populations of Hispanic voters in the country.

Who won in 2016?

Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Texas Democratic primary with 65.2% of the vote, beating out her nearest challenger, Bernie Sanders, by double digits. Texas senator Ted Cruz likewise won the Texas Republican primary by a large margin, 43.8%, over Donald Trump who mustered only 26.7% of Texas GOP voters.

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How does the Texas primary work?

Texas kicks off its primary season with early voting in late February, followed by the primary on Super Tuesday (March 3, 2020). If no candidate receives a clear majority of the vote, the top two contenders will compete in a primary runoff which occurs on May 26th, 2020.

Texas Democrats allow an open primary, meaning that you don’t have to a Democrat affiliated voter to participate in voting for a Democratic nominee. However, if a runoff is required to determine a winner, Texas requires that you can only vote in one party’s runoff.

Texas’s primary system used to be referred to as the “Texas two-step,” because it required voters to participate in a primary, then used a party caucus process to select delegates. The Democratic Party, however, no longer participates in selecting state delegates through a caucus.

Republicans, however, have a winner takes all primary provision if the candidate secures 50% of the statewide vote and in each of Texas’s 36 congressional districts. If no candidate secures a 50% majority, the Republican caucus awards delegates through a pro-rata system that roughly corresponds to votes received.

How much impact does winning Texas have on the election?

Because of the state’s large Hispanic population and the number of delegates they send to conventions, Texas plays a significant role in determining the party nominee and the outcome of a general election.

It’s important to note that Texas’s booming urban centers are driving unprecedented influence for the state. Today, Texas has an unprecedented and historic 16.1 million eligible voters on its rolls. That’s up nearly 2 million from the voter count in the 2016 general election.

Past winners of the Texas primary.

Democratic

  • 2016: Hillary Clinton
  • 2012: Barack Obama
  • 2008: Barack Obama
  • 2004: John Kerry
  • 2000: Al Gore
  • 1996: Bill Clinton
  • 1992: Bill Clinton
  • 1988: Michael Dukakis
  • 1984: Walter Mondale
  • 1980: Jimmy Carter
  • 1976: Jimmy Carter
  • 1972: George McGovern
  • 1968: Hubert Humphrey
  • 1964: Lyndon Johnson
  • 1960: John Kennedy

Republican

  • 2016: Donald Trump
  • 2012: Mitt Romney
  • 2008: John McCain
  • 2004: George W. Bush
  • 2000: George W. Bush
  • 1996: Bob Dole
  • 1992: George H. W. Bush
  • 1988: George H. W. Bush
  • 1984: Ronald Reagan
  • 1980: Ronald Reagan
  • 1976: Gerald Ford
  • 1972: Richard Nixon
  • 1968: Richard Nixon
  • 1964: Barry Goldwater
  • 1960: Richard Nixon

The Rantt Rundown

Texas is a pivotal part of the Super Tuesday sweepstakes and wields influence in both Republican and Democratic primaries. With a huge number of delegates, a diverse population, and booming urban centers, expect Texas to take the lead in determining future party nominees both in the primaries and the general elections for decades to come.

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Rantt 101 // 2020 / Democratic Party / Democratic Primary / Elections / Republican Party / Republican Primary / Texas