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Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas Photo courtesy of WDCPDC.COM has many pockets of yellow dog Democrats. This will be Huckabee’s base in Texas. He should take most of East Texas and some of rural North Texas. Southerners settled the Red River as far west as the Panhandle. Unfortunately for Huckabee, the rest of Texas is Southern in spirit only. Most Texas Republicans are Yankees, like I am, who want to fit in so much that we become Southerners and cowboys who learn to speak Texan. We live in upper middle-class developments with names like Circle C Ranch, in counties like Collin, Montgomery and Williamson. In fact, thanks to the ubiquity of cars and highways, and the ability to telecommute, Republican newcomers in search of the rural life are now swamping many rural areas. Ironically, while Republican voting strength is gaining in rural and suburban areas, we are losing our urban vote. Part of this is culture. People who live in urban areas depend on government. They have special problems with education, crime, transportation and job creation and believe in help from government. I suspect McCain will heavily win the suburban Republican vote, and the state. Huckabee does not resonate with suburban Republicans who will make up about half of our primary vote. They don’t love McCain but they are familiar with him and don’t fear him. He is a known variable. The one area of uncertainty is caused by the allocation of delegates. We are called a winner-take-all state, but that’s misleading. If a candidate wins in each of our 32 congressional districts he will get all 140 of our delegates. But because of how diverse Texas is, it is almost impossible to win in every congressional district. Three delegates represent each district. This leads to a paradox shared by many other states. Texas has 13 congressional districts held by Democrats. Most Democratic congressional districts are in South Texas or large urban areas, yet the few Republicans who vote in those primaries elect the same three delegates to the national convention, as do the 50,000-plus Republican voters who vote in strong Republican districts. A smart candidate will figure out how to mine Republican delegates from heavy Democratic areas. This will work against Huckabee, since these areas lack the communication systems that would enable him to contact voters and win votes. I expect McCain to carry Texas with 55 percent of the vote and to win 125 of the 140 national delegates. Now and into the future, the breakdown of both parties’ communication is a major factor in transferring power away from the established parties. When I first entered politics in 1968, both parties were strong. This is no longer true. Today parties make news only when they screw up. When is the last time the press or TV ran a story based on what a party leader said? Probably less than one percent of all voters could name a party chairman. This isn’t because party leaders have become incompetent. It is because Internet blogs, radio talk shows and cable TV’s nonstop political analysis have almost totally replaced traditional forms of party communication. That’s a real problem, because getting recognition on the new media requires great drama and emotion. These outlets aren’t interested in problem solving, which is too boring for talk shows. Many Republicans do not understand that Rush, Hannity, O’Reilly, et al. are entertainers whose job is to make money, which they do by generating unrelenting controversy. The organizing that used to be done by the party is largely done by private groups outside the formal party structure. Presidential elections are very different from off-year elections. I would estimate that 70 percent of the legislative seats picked up by Republicans from Democrats over the last 40 years came during presidential election years. The reason is that in off-year elections the turnout is lower and most voters tend to know and like the incumbents. In presidential elections about 50 percent more voters will turn out than in off years. These 50 percent are casting votes for a president but usually fill out the entire ballot just because they are there. They usually know nothing about the local incumbents. So their votes will at best be based on ideology and at worst simply be cast on a FEBRUARY 22, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17