The Popular Vote Chronicles: Don’t Forget Texas

Something we didn’t mention in our assessments of Hillary Clinton’s claim that she’s winning the popular vote: the Texas caucuses.

We and many other outlets have taken to using the Real Clear Politics popular vote count . The problem is, RCP factors in the Texas primary but not its caucuses. As a result, we end up underestimating Barack Obama’s popular vote tally. But by how much?

One way to estimate is to look at the results from the evening of March 4. Texas uses a “voluntary” reporting system, so only 41 percent of precincts ended up reporting their results on election night. Those numbers showed Obama winning the caucus by about 10 points . We can also look at the results of Texas’ county and state district conventions in late March, in which Obama won 58 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 42 percent. Again, that’s rough, but it’s the best we’ve got until the state convention in early June.

Based on those numbers, it looks like Obama won by anywhere from 10 to 20 points. (There are no official figures.) The Texas Democratic party estimates that turnout was roughly a million, which means that Obama probably netted anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 votes—enough to cancel out Clinton’s 100,000-vote victory in the state’s primary.

You can see why outlets like NBC choose to ignore Texas entirely when counting votes. “We’re just all screwed up,” laughs Texas Democratic spokesman Hector Nieto. “We’re the only state with stripes on CNN.” There are other caveats: The March 4 caucuses were chaotic , with overflowing caucus sites and accusations of voter fraud. Also, Texas voters could vote in both the primary and the caucuses, and there’s no way to figure out exactly how many votes got counted twice. ( Update 8:14 p.m.: Actually, there is: All of them got counted twice, since you had to vote in the primary in order to attend the caucus.)

But if you factor in this rough estimate of the Texas caucus results, Clinton is decidedly not winning the popular vote. RCP puts her ahead by 64,000 votes if you count Florida and Michigan and all the caucus states. But 100,000 votes from the Texas caucus would swing the advantage back to Obama.