Candidate and Delegate Selection Processes in Texas

Primary Election Systems Used in Texas

Presidential Elections

Presidential candidates in the United States are not directly nominated via primary elections; instead, presidential nominees are formally nominated at political party conventions. Presidential preference primary elections and caucuses are held in each state to determine how that state's delegation will vote during the nominating convention. The guidelines governing presidential nominating processes are set by the national committees of political parties, which in turn authorize individual state-level parties to conduct their own primaries and caucuses in accordance with their own participation standards. The terms under which presidential primaries are conducted therefore vary from state to state and from election cycle to election cycle.

In 2016, a total of 35 U.S. jurisdictions (including both states and territories) held presidential preference primaries to allocate convention delegates to both the Democratic and Republican parties' presidential candidates. In 13 jurisdictions, both parties held caucuses instead to allocate delegates. Eight jurisdictions utilized a bifurcated process in which one party held a primary and the other conducted a caucus or convention.

In 2016, Texas' political parties conducted open presidential preference primaries. Voters were not required to be a member of a party to participate in its primary.

Congressional and State-Level Elections

In 22 states, at least one political party utilizes open primaries to nominate partisan candidates for congressional and state-level (e.g. state legislators, governors, etc.) oces. In 15 states, at least one party utilizes closed primaries to nominate partisan candidates for these oces. In 14 states, at least one party utilizes semi-closed primaries. In two (California and Washington), top-two primaries are utilized.

Texas law requires parties to conduct open primary elections for state and county oces, as well as for congressional oces. During the nineteenth century, candidates were nominated at party conventions, but early in the 20th century, the state moved to the primary as a way to select candidates. Winners in primary contests are determined by majority vote. In the case that no candidate receives a majority vote, the top two candidates proceed to a runo election.


Number of Seats

Governor of Texas


Lieutenant Governor of Texas


Attorney General of Texas


Land Comptroller of Public Accounts


Texas Land Commissioner


Texas Agriculture Commissioner


Texas Railroad Commission


State Legislators


United States Senators


United States Representatives


Local Officials

Varies by municipality

Table 9.2 Elective offices for Which Parties Must Conduct Primaries to Nominate General Election Candidates .Table adapted from Ballotpedia, Primary Elections in Texas, published under a GFDL License