The Brief: Top Texas News for March 6, 2012

The Big Conversation:

As voters head to the polls in 10 states today, take a moment to lament what could have been Texas' moment in the national spotlight.

Texas was originally scheduled to hold its primaries today, Super Tuesday (along with Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia), before the state's redistricting fight pushed elections back to April and then to May.

With 155 delegates at stake, Texas would have been the crown jewel of Super Tuesday, with "the four survivors in the Republican presidential primary race … hitting all the stops on the barbecue circuit, wearing jeans and boots, raising money, posing for pictures and saying remarkable things to be played over and over on TV," as the Tribune's Ross Ramsey recently put it.

Instead, with Texas now set to vote May 29, attention has shifted to Ohio, a bellwether state where Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are battling largely for blue-collar voters. Though Santorum has been running relatively even with Romney in the state, most polls now show Romney likely to eek out a win there today; The New York Times puts Romney's odds of taking the state at 65 percent. Polls have also shown Santorum losing his lead in Tennessee.

 

Virginia, which votes today, was also supposed to have drawn a fierce fight for the state's 46 delegates. But only Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the ballot, and polling has since shown Romney likely to easily win the state.

Paul's fortunes today instead lie with caucus states, which he has made a central part of his delegate-amassing campaign strategy. Paul predicted Sunday that he would win Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota, which together will award 87 delegates. But he'll face stiff competition in each state from Romney, for whom a strong showing today would solidify — once and for all — his front-runner status.

Culled:

  • President Barack Obama will visit Houston on Friday for two fundraising events, the Houston Chronicle reports. The president will attend at reception at Minute Maid Park and then a $38,500-per-attendee fundraising dinner.
  • Houston has surpassed New York City and Los Angeles as the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the country, according to a new Rice University report. Anglos accounted for about 40 percent of Houston's population in 2010, compared with 49 percent in New York. The report cited Pearland and Missouri City as the region's two most diverse suburbs.
  • A new Public Policy Polling survey has found that 59 percent of likely voters in Texas oppose efforts to exclude the health provider from the state's Women's Health Program. The Obama administration has objected to state Republicans' efforts to bar Planned Parenthood and has pledged not to renew funding for the health program, which provides reproductive services and screenings for women. But Republicans may not take the poll too seriously: It was sponsored by Planned Parenthood, and some of the wording used in the survey appears to frame the program's likely demise as the doing of the state, not the Obama administration, as Republicans allege.

"I think it’s been the worst campaign I’ve ever seen in my life. I hate that people think compromise is a dirty word. It’s not a dirty word." — Former first lady Barbara Bush on the 2012 presidential field

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