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Remembering the 'Texas two-step': How Texas Democratic Party voters had two ways to vote for their favorite presidential candidate

After fielding complaints, the national Democratic Party forced the state party to drop the Texas two-step.

AUSTIN, Texas — It’s been several years since the Democratic Party did away with the Texas two-step form of voting, an unusual system that allowed people to vote for their favorite presidential candidate in a primary election and also attend a precinct caucus where they could literally vote again.

Known informally as the Texas two-step, it worked like this: Two-thirds of the Democratic delegates who were sent to the national convention to nominate a presidential candidate were selected based on which candidate got the greatest number of votes.

But the remaining one-third of the delegates were chosen based on which candidate came out on top in the caucuses.

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That meant that even if a candidate got a greater number of votes at the polls, a rival candidate with fewer votes could ultimately win the Texas Democratic primary because caucus voting put him or her over the top.

That’s exactly what happened in 2008. Even though candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the Texas primary that year, Barack Obama won more presidential delegates at the precinct caucuses, which added to his overall vote count and allowed him to claim victory in Texas.

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The Obama team understood caucuses could increase his chances for winning and the candidate promoted them at virtually every Texas campaign stop.

But many called that system unfair and noted that not everyone could attend evening caucuses due to family responsibilities and for other reasons. After fielding complaints, the national Democratic Party forced the state party to drop the Texas two-step.

Beginning with the 2016 election, delegates were selected based on which candidate got the most number of popular votes, the system that will be in place when Texas Democrats go to the polls on March 3, 2020.

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