A Guide to the Glitz and Glam of Super Tuesday
It's that quadrennial time of the year again: Super Tuesday. The political primary holiday in ten states tonight will dole out 20 percent of the delegate count -- a total of 419 -- for the Republican National Convention in August. With Romney riding off the momentum of wins in Washington, Arizona, and a semi-win in Michigan, he should be poised to clean up tonight but, with hometown favorites and caucus rules, it looks like the contention tonight will yet again prolong the nomination process, causing stress for Republicans and entertainment for the rest of us spectators.
Here's what the states are looking like this morning:
Alaska Caucus (27 delegates): The only candidate to journey north to the home of Sarah Palin was Ron Paul yet, somehow, even that doesn't guarantee him a victory. Romney sent one of his sons up there as a stand-in for him and the other candidates have made appearances on radio and television. As a caucus state, the winner is unpredictable with delegates proportionally given out and, as a time zone outlier, the voting will take longer than usual, probably ending after midnight on the East Coast.
Georgia Primary (76 delegates): Newt Gingrich called this Southern state home for 20 years when he dominated the House so if he loses, he can kiss his campaign goodbye. But he won't -- he has an unsurpassable lead in the polls and now it just depends how much better he can outperform Romney, who holds a decent second place slot, at the ballots with the proportional delegate rule in effect.
Idaho Caucus (32 delegates): The candidates are faced once again with the complex caucus system: if either Romney or Paul (the frontrunners in the state) pass the 50 percent mark with voters there, they will win all 32 delegates. If no one passes that mark, the delegates are split amongst the campaigns. With a large Mormon population, Idaho seems to be leaning towards Romney but forecasts for a caucus are rarely trustworthy.
Massachusetts Primary (38 delegates): Copy and paste the description for Georgia above and substitute out "Newt Gingrich" for "Mitt Romney" and "Southern" for "Northern." This is Romney's home turf and he has a clear lead; once again, the question is how big this lead will be.
North Dakota Caucus (0 delegates): The North Dakotans will only be voting in a Presidential preference poll. No delegates here. Moving on...
Ohio Primary (63 delegates): Warning: this is the battleground state of the night. Romney and Santorum have been duking it out in the polls, which has them both neck-and-neck, and the latter is hoping that his social conservatism will resonate with the known "value voters" state. Santorum will watch the results pour in a small town called Stuebenville, hoping that a big victory here will send a message to the Romney campaign.
Oklahoma Primary (40 delegates): The voters in the Great Plains state love Santorum and Santorum loves them. He is poised to win big here, taking all 40 delegates with him; a good pick-up for a campaign desperately looking to stop the Romney machine.
Tennessee Primary (55 delegates): There is a good chance that Tennessee results will end up looking very similar to that of Michigan last week: a close tie between Mitt and Rick and, with the doling of delegates, both of them will come out semi-victorious. Well that's not very fun.
Vermont Caucus (17 delegates): Another caucus state with the 50 percent mark rule. Romney, governing the bordering state for years, is quite popular in the Northeastern Republican circles so it looks like he will past the post first with Ron Paul slowly lagging behind.
Virginia Primary (46 delegates): This is an odd contest -- with Rick and Newt (who now lives here) not making the signature cut-off back before the deadline, it's just Mitt and Ron facing off in the usually contentious state. And it looks like it will be a Romney royale here.
That is your guide to the states at play tonight. Enjoy Super Tuesday and let's hope for the best (no clear nominee and more Santorum quotes) tonight!
Follow John Surico at @JSuricz