Texas Primary Voters to Get More Say in 2016 Than Planned

The Texas Democratic and Republican parties are finalizing plans to allocate all their national convention delegates on presidential primary day in 2016. For the Democrats, it's a break from tradition, and for the Republicans, it's a return to normal.

Voters enter and a polling station at the Ben Hur Shrine Temple in northwest Austin Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

Texas primary voters are about to have a bigger say in the 2016 presidential race than their parties previously planned.

In recent weeks, the Texas Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Texas have finalized plans to allocate all their national convention delegates based on the outcomes of their primaries, a departure from normal for the Democrats and a return to normal for Republicans.

It is a far bigger deal for the Democrats, who announced Tuesday that they were doing away with the "Texas Two-Step," the process by which some of their delegates are distributed on primary day then the rest in caucuses. Last month, the national party's rules committee denied the Texas Democrats' bid to continue that longtime tradition.

"Under the new plan, individual Democratic primary voters will have more power in the selection of their nominee," Crystal Perkins, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a statement.

For the Republicans, the move is less significant but accomplishes the same thing. Last summer, the Texas GOP emerged from its convention planning to try its own two-tiered process, allocating some of its delegates on primary day then the rest at its 2016 convention. National Republicans recently balked at that change — it would have been the first time Texas Republicans went that route — and the state party reverted to its usual practice of distributing all delegates on primary day. 

"It's a change, but the change is that there's no change," said Beth Cubriel, executive director of the Texas GOP.

The overall result is that come March 1, both parties will be putting more of their delegates at stake — all of them — than their earlier plans called for. The Democrats expect to allocate more than 250 delegates, while the Republicans will have 155. In each case, Texas will be the party's largest prize — or close to it — on March 1, when at least several other states have set primary contests.

Under the "Texas Two-Step" model, the Democrats would have distributed three-quarters of their delegates based on the results of the primary, then a quarter based on the results of a series of caucuses afterward. On Friday, the Democratic National Committee denied the state party's request for a waiver that would have made the "Texas Two-Step" possible in 2016.

The Republicans, meanwhile, had been planning to allocate 80 percent of their delegates based on the results of the primary then 20 percent based on the results of a straw poll at its state convention, which is scheduled for May in Dallas. That plan, however, conflicted with a new RNC rule that bounds all delegates to a single statewide contest.