I can wrap up the results of the 2nd Presidential debate between Governor Romney and President Obama without having seen the debate.
(Above–Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford debate in 1976. Both of these men are long gone from public office. Yet we are each here today and in need of our own efforts and of the efforts of our fellow citizens.)
I’m posting this on the blog an hour before the 2nd debate begins.
Rather than worrying about if Mr. Obama did well this evening, get active right now for the future you would like to see for our nation.
In the first 2012 Presidential debate President Obama did not take the time he needed to prepare.
Because President Obama lacked respect and care for the millions who support him, a race that seemed a likely Obama win has now become an even money deal.
The work of freedom is up to each us.
It is true that circumstance and luck count for a lot.
It is a core of liberal belief that we should help each other when times are hard for reasons beyond our control.
It is a core of liberal belief that we should be forgiving and that we must move ahead when somebody screws up.
At the same time—Every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.
We can also seek to impact society by consistently acting in a way that reflects our best values. Or by working on an artistic or creative effort that expands the range of thought and imagination we have in our society.
The work of freedom is up to each us.
This fact that the work of freedom is up to each of us is the bottom line of the debate this evening between Governor Romney and President Obama.
The integrity of the elections process is under attack in Harris County.
Far-right Tea Party groups are harassing voter registration drives in Harris County that are looking to increase the number of voters of all kinds in Harris County.
These Tea Party groups are being funded by billionaires who want to corrupt our democracy with huge amounts of money and extremist conservative ideology.
Republicans in control of the voting process in Harris County simply can’t be trusted to make sure all parts of the county get a fair share of voting machines for Election Day.
When the entire picture is considered, citizens of Harris County have every reason to be concerned that our elections will not be free and fair in 2010.
The Harris County Democratic Party, elected Democrats in the county, and all freedom loving citizens need to be active in making sure that all eligible voters are able to vote at the polls in 2010.
It may be the case that outside help is needed.
Folks in Harris County need to be aware of what is taking place and they need to fight back against Republican manipulation of our democracy.
American Politicians Who Have Won Nobel Peace Prize—Maybe Award For Mr. Obama Will Make World A Better Place
While it is easy enough to ask what Mr. Obama has done to merit the prize, maybe it will serve as a spur for the President to pursue a more peaceful course in world affairs than he otherwise would have.
Our right-wingers here in America will complain about the prize, but Mr. Obama could cure cancer and they would still complain.
Given the power of the President of the United States in the world, why not roll the dice and see if the Nobel Prize can be used to make the world a somewhat less barbarous place? Mr. Obama certainly seems more open to a peaceful world than did George W. Bush.
Mr. Obama is not the first U.S. President or the first American politician to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He is the first sitting President to win the award since 1919.
Here is a list of American politicians who have won the Nobel Peace Prize—
One-term Republican New York Senator Elihu Root won the prize in 1912. As Secretary of State under Teddy Roosevelt, and as Senator, Root help negotiate and arbitrate a number of international disputes.
Woodrow Wilson won the Peace Prize in 1919 for his part in creating the League of Nations.
It was bit more rocky , though with some successes, for the League after the Nobel. As for President Wilson, the fight over the League led to his suffering a stroke and to a bitter end to his Presidency.
Vice President Charles Dawes was a 1925 co-winner. Mr. Dawes had done work to ease tensions between Germany and France after WW I. While that clearly did not work out over the longer haul, it made an impression at the time. Mr. Dawes was Vice President under Calvin Coolidge.
Another one-term Republican Senator, Frank Kellogg of Minnesota, was the 1929 Peace Prize winner. (The photo above is of Mr. Kellogg.)
As Secretary of State under Calvin Coolidge, Kellogg was a force behind the Kellogg-Briand pact. Kellogg-Briand was signed by 64 countries and was about the renunciation of war as an instrument of policy by these nations. It did not have much effect at the time, but why not try?
Former President Jimmy Carter was the 2002 winner. President Carter has dedicated much of his efforts since leaving the White House in 1981 to conflict resolution, election monitoring and disease eradication
( Below—Al Gore.)
Taken as a general matter, since the current primary-heavy process of selecting nominees began in 1972, victorious Presidential nominees have not selected their nearest rival in contested nomination fights as the Vice Presidential nominee.
Only twice in contested nomination battles beginning with 1972 has the Vice Presidential nominee been the second place finisher in total primary votes. The Democratic ticket in 2004 and the Republican slate in 1980 are the two.
In 2008, Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York each won just over 48% of the popular vote in the primaries with Mr. Obama winning a few more votes than Mrs. Clinton. For Republicans, John McCain of Arizona took around 45% of the total with Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas each in the low 20’s.
In going with Joe Biden of Delaware, Senator Obama has made his call. Senator McCain will do the same next week.
Here is some history on this matter—
In 2000 Al Gore of Tennessee (76% of Democratic primary voters) did not pick Bill Bradley of New Jersey (20%). Nor did George W. Bush of Texas (63% of Republican primary voters) select Mr. McCain (30%).
In the fiercely fought Republican race in 1976 , President Gerald Ford of Michigan (53%) did not offer the Vice Presidency to Mr. Reagan (46%). Senator Dole was President Ford’s choice.
1972 was the last time the nominee was not the top vote getter in the primaries. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota won 26% of the vote against 25% for George McGovern of South Dakota and 24% for George Wallace. The nominee, Mr. McGovern did not offer the VP spot to either gentleman.
( Governor George Wallace stands in the schoolhouse door blocking integration in Alabama. Neither George McGovern or Jimmy Carter thought it best to run with Mr. Wallace in a Presidential election.)
Who have been the oldest candidates for President?
Senator John McCain will be 72 on Election Day 2008. This makes him the second oldest first-time major party nominee in Presidential election history. Here are first-time major party Presidential nominees nominated at age 65 or older. Listed after the name is the candidate’s age on Election Day and the year of the election. At the end of each listing is the lifespan of the candidate.
2. John McCain, 72, 2008—Republican running against man who would be one of our youngest Presidents. (1936-)
Staute of William Henry Harrison in Downtown Cincinnati
4. William Henry Harrison, 67, 1840–Harrison ran as regional nominee of Whigs as part of a failed plan to defeat Martin Van Buren in 1836. In 1840 Harrison was nominee of entire party. He was elected but died one month into his term. Beat Mr. Van Buren. (1773-1841)
Others have reached age 65 in the years between a first nomination and a subsequent nomination.
These men are—
Should Barack Obama contest Texas?
Senator Obama should strongly contest Texas only if he has a real chance to win Texas.
It takes a lot of money to mount even the appearance of an effort in a big place like Texas.
In 2004, George W. Bush won 61.1% of the Texas vote.
While Mr. Bush was a home state candidate, this number is consistent with Republican statewide majorities in Texas in recent years.
The last time a 60% or higher state flipped parties in one election cycle was Arkansas in 1980.
This had a lot to do with President Carter’s decision to place Cuban refugees in Arkansas and later rioting by these refugees. All that did not sit well with many Arkansans.
Georgia was 59.8% state for George H.W. Bush in 1988. Bill Clinton won Georgia with 43.5% in 1992 in a three-way race. (Though, contrary to myth, Governor Clinton would have won that race even if Ross Perot had not run.)
Many Southern states flipped from 60% for Richard Nixon in 1972 to wins for Jimmy Carter in 1976. But that involved a very weak Democratic ticket in 1972, and the unsual, for Democrats, Southern strength of Governor Carter.
It is hard to see how Mr. Obama wins Texas. Or, should he prove viable in Texas, it will likely mean he has easily won the election elsewhere and Texas is not essential.
As things stand today, Senator Obama might do best to focus his attentions outside of Texas.
Texas is likely a dry well for Barack Obama.
How will Alabama vote in the 2008 Presidential election?
The odds are good that this deeply misguided state will cast its nine electoral votes for the Republican candidate.
( Above you see a marker with the state motto of Alabama. Make of it what you will.)
It is not for me to give up on people. I don’t have any final call on who can be redeemed and who can not.
But I must say that Alabama is a place I have largely given up on.
This is because of a 2003 statewide referendum in Alabama.
In this vote, the people rejected a proposal by conservative Republican Governor Bob Riley to provide more funding for education, bring about a more equitable state tax scheme, and raise taxes on some people, though not all people, in Alabama. The initiative was also supported by Alabama Democratic Party.
Governor Riley cited a New Testament instruction to “take care of the least among us” as part of the reason he supported this measure.
The plan was rejected 67% -33%.
Do you imagine that Alabama has good educational results and a fair tax structure?
What can you do with such a place? The people made the call about how that want to live and what values they have.
There are many good people in Alabama I am sure. I am sure these folks are tying their best.
Still, Alabama it’s John McCain territory all the way.
For many years Alabama voted Democratic as part of the “Solid South” of former Confederate states.
Alabama switched to supporting Republicans in seeming response to the Civil Rights movement.
In 2004, whites in Alabama voted 80% 19% for George W. Bush while blacks voted 91%-6% for John Kerry.
It’s a clear and unfair simplification to say all whites who voted for Mr. Bush in Alabama are racist.
Yet the history of this state is there for all to consider.
Here are some basic facts about Alabama in Presidential elections—
2006 Population Of Alabama—4.599 Million, 23rd in population, 70% white, 26% black, 2% Hispanic, 1% Asian.
Last Democrat To Carry State—Jimmy Carter 1976.
Last Non-Southern Democrat To Win State-—John Kennedy 1960. This was at the end of the days of the Democratic Solid South.
Presidents From Alabama—None.
Vice Presidents From Alabama—William King. (Above) Served only in 1853 as he died the year he was inaugurated. Vice President King was the running mate of Franklin Pierce. Mr. King’s profile on the U.S. Senate web page shows a long career in the Senate. He was not a major player, but he saw a lot of history. The profile also hints at what I’ve read elsewhere. That Vice President King was gay and that he was involved with his one-time roommate and future President James Buchanan.
Candidates For President From Alabama Winning At Least 3% Of The Popular Vote In A General Election—George Wallace,1968. Governor Wallace won 13% of the vote and carried five Southern states. His third-party states rights campaign is seen by some as a bridge for white Southerners from longtime allegiance to Democrats to the current Republican status quo.
The house below is part of the de Tonti Historic District in Mobile.
I was at first very open to Pastor Jeremiah Wright.
I felt some of the clips playing over and over on TV made sense.
I felt in some respects Pastor Wright was mirroring Martin Luther King in asking if America was in many ways a wicked nation that possibly merited judgement.
Beyond the public issues, Pastor Wright also reached me on a personal level.
At least according to family lore, I’m descended from people who were on the Mayflower.
People on the Mayflower were not at home with the society they were born into.
In my late teens and and early 20’s, I was a 1980’s Midwestern hardcore punk rocker.
Without exaggerating the bent of people who—for the most part—lived as others do, this was a crowd that had little affection for the tone and temper of American society.
There was definitely a Puritan tendency among punk rockers—A rejection of what was taking place around them.
I have a measure of sympathy for homeschoolers and Black Muslims.
They look around and are repulsed. Why wouldn’t they be?
So I welcomed Pastor Wright. I thought he might be a new voice. I thought he might have the discipline and personal austerity to reject the culture and add a new and needed dimension to the public discussion.
Jeremiah Wright is just another Andy Warhol ( photo below) 15 minutes-of-fame media hog. He says he hates the culture, but really he loves it. He found himself in the glare of lights cast by the bigots and idiotic cable channels, and he could not resist the starring role.
Not only that, he acted out of anger at Barack Obama instead of simply making his case for good or ill in a calm and disciplined way.
Pastor Wright has no obligation to help Barack Obama. But it is hard to see how he is serving his God or anybody else with his current conduct.
Please see the picture of Pastor Wright at the top of this post with another man who lacks discipline and self-respect.
Below is Jeremiah Wright’s secular idol along with Jimmy Carter. After a rough Presidency and rejection at the polls, Jimmy Carter made a patient step-by-step case that he was in fact a man of decency and vision.
Pastor Wright could still follow that better course–final judgement is not up to me–but he sure does not seem like a prophet or a leader of any kind at this point.
The Pennsylvania presidential primary has a history that goes back to the Progressive Era origins of presidential nominating primaries.
In 2008, the Pennsylvania primary will be held April 22. Here is a selected history of the Pennsylvania primary, and, at the end of the post, some basic facts about Pennsylvania.
( Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008. Please click here for other political history posts.)
1912—The Republican fight between President William Howard Taft of Ohio and former President Theodore Roosevelt of New York, was a test between the more conservative wing of the party, represented by Mr. Taft, and Mr. Roosevelt’s progressives. Mr. Roosevelt won 60%-40%.
Pennsylvania was at the time the second largest state in the nation and an anchor of Republican support in general elections. But primaries were not as important as they are today, and Mr. Taft won the Republican nomination despite a string of losses to Mr. Roosevelt. Mr. Roosevelt on the Bull Moose ticket won Pennsylvania in November of 1912.
1916—Henry Ford of Ford Motor fame won 7.5% of the Republican vote as a write-in. Mr. Ford had already won his home state of Michigan and finished strong in Nebraska. Though in the end his campaign stalled.
1920-–The terrible Mitchell Palmer won the Democratic primary. Mr. Palmer had been a Congressman from Pennsylvania and Attorney General under Woodrow Wilson. As AG, he rounded up American Communists and others on the left during a World War I “Red Scare.” He did this with a frequent disregard for the basic rights of Americans. Mr. Palmer did not win the 1920 nomination.
(Photo is of former steel plant in Bethleham, Pennsylvania that has closed and has been replaced with a casino in the same location.)
1932—Governor Franklin Roosevelt of New York scored an important 57%-43% win over 1928 Democratic nominee former Governor Al Smith of New York. Mr. Smith had been the first Catholic to win the nomination of a major political party.
On the same day in 1932, April 26, Mr. Smith beat Mr. Roosevelt in Massachusetts. Irish-Catholic Democrats in Boston carried the day for Mr. Smith in Massachusetts. Mr. Roosevelt was the winner just about everywhere else in 1932.
1948—Governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota was the 32%-30% winner over Governor Thomas Dewey of New York in the Republican primary. Many know of Mr. Stassen as a perennial candidate who would announce a White House bid every four years until the 1990’s. He was at one time a serious candidate. Not serious enough though. Mr. Dewey was the 1948 Republican nominee.
( Below is a photo of Mr. Stassen from his service in WW II.)
1964—Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton was the 52%-20% winner over Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. This was part of a fight within the Republican party, as seen in 1912 and to some degree in 2008, between more moderate conservatives and the red meat types. After Senator Goldwater’s 1964 win, the red meat types would hold an edge they’ve yet to give up.
1972—Senator and former Vice President Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota won 35% against 21% for Governor George Wallace of Alabama and 20% Senator George McGovern of South Dakota. Senator McGovern’s anti-war liberalism was not a good match for Pennsylvania Democrats. 1972 was a long time ago, but you get a sense of the challanges faced by Senator Barack Obama of Illinois as he competes in Pennsylvania.
1976–-Former Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia took 37% against 25% for Senator Scoop Jackson of Washington and 19% for Congressman Morris Udall of Arizona. This win was a big step in Mr. Carter’s nomination fight. While the late entries of Governor Jerry Brown and Senator Frank Church of Idaho gave Mr. Carter a bit more trouble down the road, Pennsylvania turned out in retrospect to have ended the process.
1980—Both the Republican and Democratic primaries produced interesting results. For Republicans, the more moderate George H.W. Bush of Texas beat former Governor Ronald Reagan of California 51%-43%. This in a year that Mr. Reagan won 61% of all Republican primary votes against 23% for Mr. Bush. Pennsylvania was a late arrival to the Reagan Revolution.
Among Democrats, Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts beat President Carter by the small margin of 45.7% to 45.4%. Any time an incumbent President loses a primary, he has trouble. Mr. Kennedy , like Senator McGovern in 1972, was the more liberal candidate. And as was Mr. Smith in 1932, he was Catholic. Yet unlike those two men, he won the Pennsylvania primary. This reflected a changing Democratic electorate, a tough economy in 1980, and the political weakness of President Carter.
The victories by Mr. Bush and Mr. Kennedy in 1980 were the last time Pennsylvania primary voters did not support the eventual nominee for either party. The Pennsylvania primary has taken place late in the process after the nominations have been wrapped up and not been important since 1976 and 1980.
Jesse Jackson won 18 % in 1984 and 27% in 1988 in Pennsylvania. These were showings consistent with his national showings in Democratic primaries.
12.4 million people live in Pennsylvania. It has the 6th largest population. Just under 10% of its people are black and just over 3% are Hispanic. John Kerry won Pennsylvania 51%-48% in 2004. Here is some more basic information about Pennsylvania.
Here is some information about presidential politics in Pennsylvania from the 2008 Almanac of American Politics—
For the last 70 years Pennsylvania has been a swing state in every close presidential election and even in some that were not close. Yet it is not typical of the country. With its older, deeply-rooted population, it tends to be culturally more conservative than the rest of the country; with its long-dying blue-collar communities, it tends to be economically more liberal—though both tendencies have been muted with time. But it does present a problem for political strategists of both parties: Combinations of issue positions which work for Democrats on the East and West Coasts or for Republicans in the South and the Heartland do not work well here.
A recent New York Times story about the Rhode Island primary started off this way–
“For the first time anyone can remember, this small state is relishing its role in the presidential primary cycle.”
I’m not certain how many people reporter Abby Goodnough interviewed to reach this conclusion, but the Rhode Island primary was a big deal in relatively recent memory.
(Photo is of Senator Church.)
Coming into Rhode Island, Governor Carter had the clear lead in the nomination fight. Governor Brown and Senator Church entered the race late to see if they could catch up with Mr. Carter.
The 1976 Rhode Island primary was held on June 1.
While winning after starting late not seem likely in today’s nominating process, Hubert Humphrey had won the 1968 Democratic nomination despite ignoring most primaries. A victory after a late entry seemed possible in 1976.
Rhode Island was one of the first primary involving Carter, Brown and Church.
All three candidates came to Rhode Island. I shook hands with all three and had brief conversations with Mr. Brown and Mr. Church. I was 8. I remember meeting the candidates as if it were last week. I recall Walter Cronkite discussing how little Rhode Island was playing such a large role in the process.
Governor Brown won Rhode Island in 1976. It was not enough. Governor Carter had a lead that could not be overcome.
Ms. Goodnough could not find anybody in Rhode Island who recalls the 1976 Democratic primary? No political science professor or Democratic party official? It was a big deal at the time.
Or maybe it’s true that nobody does remember.
No matter–The past has relevance.
The past is context for the present. It gives our lives meaning to know that something came before and that we are part of something larger than just the present moment.
The past is alive. It is always open to new interpretations and it is with us when we consider why things are as they are in our lives.
I read Ms. Goodnough’s article and for just a moment I wondered if my own memories were correct.
The past exists if even people can’t be bothered to recall it, or even if they won’t do the work required to remind us that more exists than just the story of the day.
( Here are some basic facts and a brief history of Ohio. The population of Ohio is approximately 11.5 million. George Bush carried the state 51%-49% in 2004.)
Here is a history of some notable results from Ohio since the first primary in 1912.
The first Ohio primary featured something modern political observers can grasp—An ideological fight among Republicans.
Progressive challenger, former President Theodore Roosevelt, defeated incumbent President William Howard Taft, a more conservative figure, by a 55%-40% margin. President Taft was from Cincinnati. This outcome shows the bent of the Ohio Republican electorate at the time and offers a clue why the progressive reform of the primary was embraced early in Ohio.
Judson had defeated Warren Harding in 1910 to become Governor.
(In November of 1912 in Ohio it was Wilson 41%, Roosevelt 27% and Taft 22%.)
In 1920, Ohioans had the chance to vote for locals in both primaries. The Republican winner was Senator Warren Harding who beat General Leonard Wood by an unimpressive 47%-41%. ( Maybe Ohio voters knew from experience that Senator Harding would be a bad President. He was in fact terrible President.)
Democrats in 1920 supported Ohio Governor James Cox with 98%.
However, despite the lack of unity in the primary, Harding beat Cox 59% -39% in November.
Hoover was easily renominated despite winning only 33% of all primary votes in 1932. It would not be until the 1970’s that primaries would begin consistently influential in the nominating process.
Coxey had been involved in politics since leading poor people’s protests in Washington in the 1890’s. He is interesting to read about.
President Taft’s son, Senator Robert Taft, was the 99% winner of the 1940 Ohio Republican primary. This was the beginning of a series of Taft efforts to reach the White House. Seen as a father of modern conservatism, and an author of the terrible Taft-Hartley Act, Taft was the choice of an “unpledged” slate of delegates that won the 1948 Republican primary. Taft also won the 1952 primary.
The 1964 and ’68 Republican favorite son choice in Ohio was Governor James A. Rhodes. An outspoken so-called “law-and-order” politician, it was Governor Rhodes who ordered the troops in at the killing of anti-war protesters at Kent State in 1970.
The 2008 Clinton–Obama fight seems an echo of the ’72 race to some degree.
While conservatives Taft and Rhodes had found favor with Ohio Republicans in the World War II and post-war era, a more moderate wing of the party prevailed in 1976. In ’76, incumbent President Gerald Ford beat Ronald Reagan 55%-45%. Not strong for an incumbent, but better than W.H Taft or Hoover had done in the Ohio primary.
The 1980 Democratic primary, contested in June when the race had already been decided, gave President Jimmy Carter a 51% 44% over Ted Kennedy. Another weak showing for an incumbent who would go on to lose.
Democrats in 1984 though went for the challenger to the party establishment. Senator Gary Hart defeated Walter Mondale42%-40%. The wonkish high-tech Hart’s win over a lunch-bucket union regular like Mondale in a state like Ohio showed the weakness of the Mondale campaign.
In 1988, ’92 and ’96, the Ohio primary took place late in the process. Voters in each party primary voted for the eventual nominee of the party.
For 2000, Ohio moved it’s primary up to Super Tuesday March 7. ( Please click here for a history of Super Tuesday.)The George W. Bush/John McCain battle was still alive at that point. The more conservative Bush won a 58%-37% victory. This confirmed again the dominance of the right in Ohio Republican politics.
(Post card is of Youngstown in 1910’s. Please click here for a history of Youngstown. )
Over the last weekend, Governor Huckabee was the winner of the Kansas caucus and the Louisiana primary. Senator McCain was declared the winner in the Washington caucus, but this outcome is being disputed by Mr. Huckabee.
The Republican race is presumed to be over, yet people keep voting for Mr. Huckabee.
Governor Huckabee’s support among some Republicans is reflective of an ideological split within that party. Many Evangelical Christians see Mr. Huckabee was one of their own. On the other hand, Mr. McCain has never been a favorite of that substantial wing of the Republican Party.
Republicans are not fully ready to hand the nomination to Mr. McCain.
Senator Kennedy was leading a liberal insurgency against President Carter. While Governor Huckabee’s campaign is not so-much directed at Senator McCain, he has become the final voice of more conservative Republicans.
Through mid-March of 1980 President Carter had won 7 of 8 primaries, losing only in Mr. Kennedy’s Massachusetts, and had a large delegate lead.
After President Carter seemed secure in the nomination, Senator Kennedy won primaries in the big states of New York, Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey. Mr. Carter won a number of primaries as well. In fact, just as Senator McCain remains formidable, Carter won 17 of the 27 primaries after mid-March.
But President Carter could not nail down a significant segment of his party.
Just as President Carter did, Senator McCain will likely end up with the nomination. Yet even as Democrats fight amongst themselves, Senator McCain can look back to Jimmy Carter’s troubles in 1980 to get a sense of the fight ahead.
The Texas Presidential Primary, to be held March 4, is a big deal.
( Photo above is of Galveston at sunset. If you live near the Texas coast, this might be your concept of Texas.)
32 of the Democratic delegates will be superdelegates. (Please click here for a Texas Liberal history of the superdelegate idea. )
I maintain that the superdelegate idea is undemocratic and goes against the idea of an open and fair Democratic Party.
( The process by which Texas delegates are selected is mind-numbing and not the province of this post. Here’s a link to part one and part two of an explanation of this system by the Texas political blog Burnt Orange Report.)
Not surprisingly, given the lack of enthusiasm for democracy found historically among the Texas political class—-and from many of the Anglo voters who have dominated Texas politics—the Texas Presidential primary does not have a long history.
The first Texas presidential primary was held in 1980.
( Here is a concept of Texas some might have—An oil rig in the middle of town. I’ve never seen this in my nine years in Texas. Though I have seen oil rigs within the city limits of Houston.)
Texas was for many years part of the one-party “Solid South” that anchored Jim Crow segregation in America.
This system had multiple parts.
The two-thirds rule at the Democratic National Convention assured that the South would have a veto over any presidential candidate who threatened progress on Civil Rights. It took two-thirds of all delegates to ratify a nominee. That rule is now gone.
On Election Day in November, the South, including Texas, would almost always vote for the Democratic nominee. A Texas exception to this was in 1928 when Republican Herbert Hoover defeated Catholic Al Smith. (Some Texans must have sat around the dinner table deciding if they disliked Catholics or black people the most.)
( Here is Al Smith with Babe Ruth. You can likely figure out who is Smith and who is Ruth. )
This Southern unity prevented the Democratic nominee from pushing Civil Rights during the campaign (If he had any inclination to do so to start with.) since he could not alienate such a large block of states.
In Congress, Southern Democratic Senators and Representatives, often reelected without opposition, built seniority and gained control of important committees. This also stopped any progress on Civil Rights.
Here is a link to a history of the “Whites Only” Democratic primary used in Texas for many years to determine nominees–and certain November winners in a one party state–for the great majority of Texas offices.
In the U.S. Senate, the filibuster rule allowed Southern Senators to block Civil Rights legislation. This may all seem a bit off the topic of the Texas Primary, but it gets at the political climate in Texas for many years and how it was that the Progressive-era reform of the presidential primary did not reach Texas until 1980.
Today Texas, along with Hawaii, California and New Mexico, is a state where the majority of people are not white. That’s amazing when you think of the John Wayne/roughneck image of Texas.
Many of these non-white folks are immigrants.
(The Port of Houston is immense and it connects Houston and Texas to the world. Many immigrants come to Texas today and they are–for the most part so far–accepted.)
Most of these immigrants are accepted. Even undocumented immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere have not been disturbed much as of yet. If this has to do with the role these immigrants play in the Texas economy, or the possible–mostly unrealized– political clout of Hispanic voters in Texas, I could not fully say.
Roughly one-third of Texans are Hispanic. Though many are not legally here. And of those that are here legally, many do not vote. Texas is just over 11% black. Almost 24 million people live in Texas. Here is a link to some basic facts about Texas.
(Below is the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Hard to see any distinctions between people from this perspective.)
George W. Bush won Texas with 61% of the vote in 2004. Republicans are in firm control of Texas politically.
Mr. Reagan had mostly wrapped up the nomination by that point, but it still shows the strength conservative in the Texas Republican party against a strong home-state candidate.
Texas was a Super Tuesday battleground for Democrats in 1988. Mike Dukakis rook first place with 33% against 25% for Jesse Jackson and 20% for Southerner Al Gore. This win helped confirm Mr. Dukakis as the front-runner, though it would take another round of primaries to make it more certain. (Please click here for a Texas Liberal history of Super Tuesday.)
Vice President Bush was an easy home state winner in 1988.
Though as an incumbent President, Mr Bush’s 69% against 24% for Pat Buchanan in 1992 was not so impressive.
The son, George W. Bush, beat John McCain 88% to 7% in 2000. Not a close call. Mr. McCain may do better this time.
In 2004, while Bush was unopposed among Republicans, John Kerry won two-thirds of the vote on his way to the nomination.
2008 promises to be the most interesting and most relevant Texas presidential primary yet held.
The Louisiana primary will be held for both parties this upcoming Saturday, February 9.
Democrats will award 56 delegates and Republicans will have 20 delegates at stake. (Though some of these Republican delegates have already been spoken for in an earlier caucus.)
For Democrats in the South in 2008, Senator Barack Obama has so far won the Deep South states of South Carolina,( Here is a Texas Liberal history of the South Carolina primary.) Alabama and Georgia. Hillary Clinton has won Arkansas, where she lived for many years, and the border state of Tennessee.
Mrs. Clinton was the winner of the Florida poll, but due to a dispute over the date of the primary, a full campaign was not fought in Florida. ( Here is a Texas Liberal history of the Florida primary.)
Senator Obama does well in states where much of the primary electorate is black.
( Satellite image of New Orleans.)
In November, Louisiana has gone Republican in the past two elections. Going back a bit further, after many years as a “Solid South” one-party Democratic state, Louisiana has mostly voted for Republicans for President beginning with Barry Goldwater in 1964. Southern Democrats Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 were able to carry the state.
Louisiana has not played a large role in the recent history of the presidential nominating process with one positive exception. In 1996 the forces of the far right-wing Texas Senator Phil Gramm arranged for early caucuses in Louisiana to help the Gramm campaign. That was a bad move. Turnout was low and Pat Buchanan won the most delegates.
Indicative of the strength of black voters within the Democratic Party there, Jesse Jackson was the Louisiana Democratic primary winner in both 1984 and 1988.
The Obama campaign must be aware of that fact.
( Photo below of Bald Cypress Swamp in Louisiana.)
Here is an excerpt from the Louisiana entry in the 2008 Almanac of American Politics—-
Louisiana often seems to America’s banana republic, with its charm and inefficiency, its communities interfaced by family ties and its public sector sometimes laced with corruption, with its own indigenous culture and its traditions of fine distinctions of class and caste. It is a state with an economy uncomfortably like that of an underdeveloped country, based on pumping minerals out of soggy ground and shipping grain produced in the vast hinterland drained by its great river, an economy increasingly dependent on businesses typical of picturesque Third World countries—tourism…. and gambling…..Louisiana has a hereditary rich class and a large low-wage working class. It has conservative cultural attitudes….but Louisiana also has a lazy tolerance of rule-breaking.
Louisiana has a lower population today than it did in 2000. This is because, of course, of Hurricane Katrina. The 2000 population was 4.468 million. The 2007 estimate was 4.293 million.
The population of Louisiana is around 30% black. The Hispanic population is much smaller. If it has gone up since Katrina, it is unlikely that many of the Hispanics involved in rebuilding New Orleans are registered to vote. Hispanic voters have been supporting Hillary Clinton so far in the Democratic race.
It was not just New Orleans proper that lost population after Katrina. Strongly Republican Jefferson Parrish in the New Orleans suburbs has also lost people and this fact may offset at least some of the black population decline.
(Does this unique Louisiana cuisine make up for years of poverty and racism?)
The California Presidential nominating primary, which will be held for 2008 on February 5, has a history that goes back to the Progressive Era. The first California primary was held in 1912.
The Presidential nominating primary, however regressive it may seem at times today, was a Progressive reform. It was step away from the smoke-filled rooms.
California was a big part of the Progressive Era. Progressive Bull Moose candidate Teddy Roosevelt carried California in the 1912 general election and the great Progressive Hiram Johnson was Governor of California from 1911 until 1917 and Senator from 1917 until his death in 1945. Johnson was Teddy Roosevelt’s running mate in 1912.
Over 36 million people live in California. John Kerry won California 54%-44% in 2004.
In that first 1912 primary, Roosevelt defeated incumbent President William Howard Taft of Ohio among Republicans by a 2-1 margin. That gives you a sense of where the Republican electorate of California stood at that point in time.
1912 was long before primaries had the decisive role they do today. It would be 1972 and the years after 1972 that primaries took on the role they play today.
In 1920, California Senator Johnson took the Republican primary over Herbert Hoover. Hoover also has California connections as a Stanford graduate. Senator Johnson objected to Hoover’s position in favor of U.S. entry into the League of Nations and worked hard to deny Hoover the nomination.
Senator Johnson was asked to be Harding’s running mate. He said no. Harding died in 1923 and Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts became President.
Incumbent President Coolidge beat Senator Johnson in the California republican primary of 1924.
The Democratic primary of 1932 was of some note. Reflecting the Southern origins of many California Democrats, House Speaker John Nance Garner of Texas won the primary over New Yorker’s Al Smith, the 1928 Democratic nominee and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Very different from the results you would get today.
Roosevelt selected Garner as his first of his three Vice Presidents.
Mr. Sinclair is most famous for writing The Jungle.
(San Diego is closely contested between the two parties.)
In 1936, 1948 and 1952, Earl Warren was the winner of the California Republican primary.
Try to imagine Mr. Warren as a Republican today!
The future liberal Chief Justice was Governor of California from 1943 until 1953, He was also the running mate of Thomas E. Dewey of New York in 1948.
Warren never won the Republican nomination. Though arguably he got the only job better than President.
For all this time and beyond—from 1912 until 1992— the California primary was held late in the process. Often favorite son candidates, such as Mr. Warren, were the winners.
A favorite son candidate is a statewide figure who runs in the primary and then passes on his delegates at the convention in exchange for an office or for influence.
The 1964 Republican primary brought a clear test of ideological strength within the party. Much like in 1912.
This time though, the right-wing won.
Conservative Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona defeated Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York. Rockefeller was a liberal Republican and the party was badly split in the early 60’s between these competing wings of the party.
The future was with the conservatives as the 1966 election of Ronald Reagan as Governor of California established.
It was on the night of his California 1968 Democratic primary win that Senator Robert Kennedy of New York was assassinated.
The 1972 California democratic primary was significant. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota defeated former Vice President Humbert Humphrey by 44%-39%. Mr. McGovern’s win gained him delegates and momentum that made a difference in taking the nomination.
(The Sacramento area is inclined towards Democrats.)
In 1976, home state candidate Ronald Reagan won a big victory over President Gerald Ford. But the 65%-35% win was not enough for Reagan to win the nomination.
California Democrats in 1980 voted for a slate of delegates committed to liberal Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts over incumbent President Jimmy Carter of Georgia. This provided a sense of what ideological tint held sway among California Democrats.
In 1992, California was the only one of 7 states voting on June 2 that came close to rejecting Bill Clinton of Arkansas. Former California Governor Jerry Brown, fighting to the end, lost 45%–40%. Mr Clinton had pretty much wrapped up the nomination before California.
In 1996, California finally moved its’ primary up to March. ( Please click here for a Texas Liberal history of Super Tuesday Primary Day.) Though all voters did was ratify the foregone conclusions of Bob Dole of Kansas and President Clinton.
California moved up its primary to March 7 for 2000 and March 2 in 2004.
In neither case did the California result make a difference.
(No voting in Death Valley)