Those delegates are allotted by a candidate's performance in each of the state's 31 state senate districts. Each district gets delegates based on Democratic turnout in past elections.
So some urban districts in Houston, Dallas and Austin with higher Democratic turnout in the 2004 and 2006 general elections could give their winning candidate more delegates than some predominantly Hispanic districts in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso.
For example, a state Senate district in Austin, where 30 percent of residents are Hispanic, will have eight delegates, but a state Senate district in the border city of Brownsville, where the population is 91 percent Hispanic, gets only three.
``Obviously it is a complex system, but the reason it's so complex is to ensure that everyone is properly represented,'' said state Democratic Party spokesman Hector Nieto. He said Democrats in low-turnout districts have themselves to blame for the number of delegates they get.
The primary-caucus system has long been used, but in presidential elections in the last 20 years the nominee had scooped up the needed delegates to win the nomination by the time the Texas contest rolled around. This year, Texas could be the deciding state.
Beyond the 126 delegates awarded based on primary voting results, 102 Texas delegates are apportioned at the state Democratic convention in June, but the process begins at precinct caucuses held as soon as the primary polls close on March 4.
Those precinct conventions determine whose supporters get to go on to higher-level conventions but do not affect how the 126 pledged delegates from primary voting are distributed.
Here's how the rest of the delegates are awarded:
_25 delegates pledged to particular presidential candidates are selected from party and elected officials. The breakdown is determined by the percentages of support candidates receive when convention-goers sign-in and declare their presidential preference.
_42 at-large delegates are pledged to particular presidential candidates the same way as the party and elected officials. The at-large delegation can also be used to make sure the whole Texas delegation is divided equally between men and women and meets racial and ethnic diversity goals.
_35 so-called superdelegates, as specified in national party rules, are immediately ratified at the state convention and can back either candidate. These include members of Congress and the Democratic national committee members and leading state party officials, plus three picked by the state Democratic chairman.
``It's not new. It's a system that's been supported by Democrats,'' said Ed Martin, a Texas Democratic strategist, explaining it was designed to reward those who support Democrats in the general election.
On the Net: Texas Democratic Party at www.txdemocrats.org
Kelley Shannon has covered Texas politics and government in Austin since 2000.