By Lester Holt, NBC News Anchor
Behind the real drama, twists and turns of the Clinton-Obama race for the Democratic nomination, is some real mind-numbing detail concerning party rules and procedures that determine how big a delegate prize the candidates get in each state contest. It's exciting to track the delegate counts, but to be perfectly honest, it is difficult at times to understand how those delegates are awarded.
This past Tuesday, I was allowed to attend a democratic caucus in Houston. In preparation, I spent the afternoon poring over the Texas Democratic Party rules--everything from how to elect a caucus chairman and secretary, to how to determine if the threshold to form a caucus has been met. The party even provides something they call the E-Z Math Precinct Delegate form that walks you through a number of calculations that ultimately answer the question of the night: how many delegates does each candidate get? After an hour of going over the rules, those IRS forms I used to grumble over suddenly seemed downright simple.
Of course, I was like most of the 400 people who crammed the tiny elementary school cafeteria, in that I had never attended a caucus. There was understandable confusion, a few raised voices, and plenty of questions. Before long, however, a few caucus veterans managed to get everyone organized. The Obama and Clinton supporters were sorted out, and formed into lines to sign in and select their candidate preferences. It was remarkable to witness the political process play out on such a grassroots level. On the cafeteria stage, sign-in sheets were tallied by volunteers with calculators and yellow note pads. When the delegate tallies were finally announced, there was no booing or demonstrations. The caucus attendees left with obvious pride that they had navigated unfamiliar waters and had made their voices heard.
Tonight on Nightly News we're going to backtrack on the delegate race, and look at a new push to give democratic voters in Michigan and Florida a second chance to vote. Delegates weren't awarded in those states the first time around because Democratic National Committee rules over the scheduling of those contests were not followed. Now some are suggesting a new mail-in election. Kevin Corke will be covering that for us, Savannah Guthrie looks at John McCain's challenge staying in the spotlight, and John Harwood will be by to put it all in perspective.
Lastly, I want to thank all of you who wrote in with birthday wishes yesterday. I had a great celebration with my family after the broadcast last night, and your thoughts and greetings made the day all the more special.
Thanks for reading the blog. We'll look for you tonight for NBC Nightly news.