Presidential candidates may be camping out this month in Iowa and New Hampshire, but Texans know that the Lone Star State is the real prize in the 2016 Republican primaries.
  1. Delegates, delegates, delegates
    To become the party's presidential nominee, candidates need to win a majority of the delegates to the Republican National Convention. On March 1, 12 states will hold primaries with the single greatest number of delegates up for grabs on any one day. Win five of them — Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota and Vermont — and you just might walk away with as many delegates as you get by winning some share of the 155 delegates from Texas.
  2. It's home field for plenty of candidates
    Sen. Ted Cruz may represent Texas in the Senate, but plenty of other candidates have Texas ties. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee went to college in Texas. Former Sen. Rick Santorum is involved with EchoLight Studios, which used to be based in the state. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were both born in the state. Bush's brother, George W., was governor of Texas, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul grew up in Texas.
  3. The campaigns are already on the ground in Texas
    Paul opened a campaign office in Austin way back in March and brought former Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri onto his campaign. Fiorina recently hired Rick Perry's campaign manager and Bush's last name alone connects him to lots of wealthy donors. In a state this big and complicated, these are important connections.
  4. Texas is ground zero for the GOP's biggest priorities
    Republicans love to tout how the state's business-friendly economy has outpaced the rest of the country in terms of job growth. Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, a law that's heading to the Supreme Court in 2016. And while candidates can talk about securing the border in Iowa, it sounds and looks better when you're on the border — like when Donald Trump visited Laredo this summer.
  5. It may winnow the GOP field
    In past elections, there's usually a major winnowing of presidential candidates after Iowa and New Hampshire. But with Texas and other Super Tuesday states coming less than a month later, Republican strategist Ted Delisi argues that more candidates than usual may make a stand in Texas. "They understand that as the process gets going they need to have infrastructure here. So that when they catch their moment, they want to be ready for it here," he says.