Texas Primary: Where a few have a lot of power

Feb 28, 2014

Credit stateandfed.com

The Republican primary is the election that matters in the state of Texas.  The winners of Tuesday’s race and the following May 27 runoff election will mostly likely win in November according to The Texas Tribune

The crux of this situation is that only about 8 percent of the voting-age population cast ballots in the 2012 primaries, and since 2008 that was the best turnout. 

The influence of a few affects the ability of Texas to address long-term public policy challenges like a persistent achievement gap between minority and Anglo schoolchildren.

Mark McKinnon was a media adviser to former President George W. Bush.  He says the situation “is problematic, because then government becomes even less responsive to the real policy needs of voters, and reactive to minor but vocal constituencies that are more likely to just create paralysis.”

Richard Murray is a University of Houston political science professor.  He says one concern is the makeup of the primary electorate.  It does not reflect the state at large.  The Republican primary voter, he said, tends to be older, better educated and not “just conservative” but “very conservative.”

The small number taking part in the primary is a relatively new phenomenon.  From the 1970s until the early 1990s, primary participation was regularly in the double digits.  The peak was in 1972 when 28 percent of the voting-age population voted.