Today is the all important Super Tuesday. Ten states with nearly 20 percent of the total delegates are voting in the Republican presidential primary: Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.
The Battle Ground States: Ohio and Tennessee
Two big battlegrounds states, Ohio and Tennessee, will likely get the most media attention tonight.
Ohio is the big prize. It has the second most delegates up for grabs today, and the recent polling has Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum effectively tied. The Real Clear Politics polling average currently has it as Mitt Romney 33.9%, Rick Santorum 32.7%, Newt Gingrich 16.4%, Ron Paul 11.3%. Although the race is extremely close, the polling has been moving in Romney’s direction, showing that he has the momentum. Santorum needs a win here to convince people he is still viable, because he is unlikely to have many other victories tonight.
Tennessee is the other really close state according to the polling. Santorum had a huge lead in Tennessee only a few weeks ago, but it has shrunk to a few points. The Real Clear Politics polling average currently has it Santorum 32.3%, Romney 29.7%, Gingrich 24.7%, Paul 9.3%. Santorum should win, but it is possible Romney could pull off a surprise victory. Tennessee is likely a must win state for Santorum. If Romney wins Ohio it will be seen as a huge victory for him, but if Romney wins Ohio and Tennessee many people will likely start declaring the primary effectively over.
The Mitt Romney States: Idaho, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia
For a variety of reason its looks like it will be a very good night for Mitt Romney, as he is favored to win four of the five states tonight.
- Idaho – This state has the second largest percentage of Mormons outside of Utah. Given how well Romney does with LDS voters, he should win this caucus by a huge margin.
- Massachusetts – This is Romney’s home state where he served as governor. He is expected to win it easily.
- Vermont – As a North Eastern state it is expected to favor Romney. The one relatively recent Castleton poll of Vermont had Romney leading by seven.
- Virginia – Only Romney and Paul managed to qualify for the ballot in Virginia. Polling shows Romney will basically win big here by default.
The Newt Gingrich State: Georgia
The only state Gingrich is expected to win easily is his home state of Georgia, but it does have the most delegates up for grabs today. All the recent polling of the state has Gingrich with a huge lead, roughly 20 points, over everyone else. While he is not likely do very well in many other states, he should at least net a large number of delegates as a favorite son.
The Rick Santorum States: Oklahoma
While most of the polls do technically show Santorum with the tiny lead in Tennessee, the state is too close for comfort.
The only state where Santorum is probably guaranteed a win tonight is Oklahoma. It is a strong Evangelical state which should favor Santorum. There has not been much polling of the state, but an ARG poll from this week has Santorum 37%, Romney 26%, Gingrich 22%, Paul 9%.
The Wild Card States: Alaska and North Dakota
There is basically too little information about the caucuses in North Dakota and Alaska to make a solid judgement about how tonight is expected to go. Both being caucuses, Ron Paul should probably do decently in both because of his small but dedicated base.
If I had to guess I would predict Romney will likely win Alaska. About 4.5% of the state is Mormon and Romney has so far won every state in which the Mormons made up 4% or more of the population.
The primary states’ poll closing times (Eastern):
7:00 PM: Georgia, Vermont, Virginia
7:30 PM: Ohio
8:00 PM: Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee
I will be live blogging results on the FDL main page this evening