(If Santorum becomes the frontrunner tonight, I’m still not turning in my “come from behind” puns, and you can’t make me. – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)
Super Tuesday marks the most states voting at any one day during the Republican primary. It will be a day that might determine whether Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will be viewed as legitimate contenders moving forward. It may also weaken Mitt Romney’s candidacy and sap momentum gained from wins in Washington, Michigan, and Arizona.
Here is the run-down on states that are hosting primaries and caucuses today:
Ohio – 66 Delegates, Proportional Primary
A victory in Ohio is vitally important to the future of Rick Santorum’s candidacy. Ohio’s electoral make-up favors Santorum and he had an early lead following his victories in Colorado and Minnesota. That lead has been erased following the results of the Arizona and Michigan primaries.
The polling is very current, and almost all of it is within the margin of error. Romney’s well-funded and disciplined operation has a good chance of overcoming Santorum, especially since his momentum has slowed. However, if Santorum wins Ohio, it could be a major blow to the seeming inevitability of a Romney nomination.
Note: Santorum doesn’t have a full delegate slate in many places and won’t be eligible to win delegates in these areas.
There are a couple of reasons why I believe Santorum will be victorious. After Michigan, Ohio has the second-largest automobile industry in the country. Mitt’s opposition to the auto bailout wasn’t enough to topple him in Michigan, but I think it’ll be a factor. I also think that the large amount of evangelical voters will hurt Mitt more than it did in Michigan. Look for this state to be counting ballots till bedtime.
Tennessee – 58 Delegates, Proportional Primary
Mitt Romney is also closing the gap in Tennessee. In a similar situation to Ohio, Santorum had a healthy lead in the polls early on. The race has tightened. Polling: PPP has Santorum leading by 5%, WeAskAmerica shows Romney up by 1%, and Rasmussen has Santorum up by 4%. Newt Gingrich is closing in on Romney and Santorum’s portion of the vote and has a chance of breaking the threshold to receive delegates.
A win for Romney here would send a signal that he is able to win Southern states and bolster his chances to end the nomination battle earlier. This will be another tight one, but my bet is that Santorum ekes it out.
Georgia – 76 Delegates, Proportional Primary
By all accounts, Newt Gingrich will win Georgia handily. Most projections have him garnering upward of 40% of the vote, and this is the one state that he will certainly hang his hat on tonight. Gingrich must go further tonight by proving his electability in states outside of Georgia, gaining enough delegates to keep his candidacy alive. After his campaign’s several resurrections, Gingrich needs some surprising showings in several states to demonstrate his candidacy’s viability.
Oklahoma – 43 Delegates, Proportional Primary
Rick Santorum is especially strong in Oklahoma. Most recent polling shows him up by double-digits and the make-up of the electorate favors him heavily. This one is in the bag for Santorum.
Virginia – 49 Delegates, Hybrid Primary
VA has a large population of wealthy voters and the most recent poll I could find shows Mitt capturing nearly 70% of the vote. Nothing to see here, folks.
North Dakota – 28 Delegates, Non-binding Caucus
Nobody has gained the courage to poll North Dakota. Maybe it’s the bleak landscape or the local cuisine, but it hasn’t happened. Rick Santorum has had strong showing in flat places, particularly in the Eastern Plains of Colorado. I gather that because of population density, Romney takes some of the urban vote (whatever that means in ND) but gets overpowered by Santorum in the rest of the state.
Massachusetts – 41 Delegates, Proportional Primary
You already know damn well who’s gonna win Massachusetts.
Idaho – 32 Delegates, Proportional Caucus
Outside of Utah, Idaho has the largest portion of Mormon residents of any state. Some estimate that one out of three caucusing tonight will be Mormon. Romney also has the support of virtually every top-tier elected official in the state. I’m calling it for Romney.
Vermont – 17 Delegates, Hybrid Primary
There has only been one poll of Vermont, which showed Romney ahead by 7%. However, the date of the survey was during Santorum’s surge. Given the momentum loss after Washington, Arizona, and Michigan, I am sure this one ends up in Mitt Romney’s column.
Alaska – 27 Delegates, Proportional Caucus
Nobody really knows what is going to happen in Alaska. I have an inkling that Ron Paul’s style might play more to the independence of Alaska’s voters. Romney did win here in 2008, but the electorate of Alaska seems fairly unpredictable. Who knows, maybe Ron Paul will finally win a state! R(evol)ution, baby!