Why More Presidential Candidates Are Campaigning In Texas

Bernie Sanders’ recent visit to the University of Houston makes him the latest in a string of presidential candidates to campaign in Greater Houston. A change to the state’s primaries may be responsible for the frequent visits to Texas.


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As the first states in the primary elections, Iowa and New Hampshire usually get most of the attention from presidential candidates, but you may have noticed an increased number of them coming to Texas, including Houston, lately.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston, says a big donor base has long lured candidates to Texas.

Figures from the Federal Election Commission show Texans have spent more than $11 million on candidates in this election cycle.

But this year, there’s another incentive.

“Texas moved its primary up and so that gives the candidates an opportunity to be able to campaign here more,” Rottinghaus says. “In years past they haven’t done that because it’s been so late. So this gives an opportunity politically to really make a stand and use Texas as part of their electoral strategy.”

The Texas primary is scheduled to be on Super Tuesday next year, March 1.

For Republicans, a change before the 2012 election from winner-take-all to proportional delegate count could be another reason for more candidates to come here.

Rottinghaus says that especially benefits long-shot candidates.

“If you can get 20 percent, 25 percent in a primary that gives you delegates according to the percentage that you get statewide or district based wide, then that’s a better investment for you,” he says.

Texas has one of the highest numbers of delegates for either party.

Rottinghaus also says while Republicans vie for recognition from the state’s strong Tea Party base, many Democrats consider Texas as a state in transition to a purple or even blue state.


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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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