Today the residents of Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia will be holding their contests, hoping to cross the latest hurdle on the path towards securing the GOP nomination. With none of the 10 states being winner-take-all, and a grand total of 419 delegates up for grabs, every single vote matters.
Because each contest will award delegates on a proportional basis, everyone today will make some gains. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is in prime striking position in half of the contests today, and while he will not walk away with 10 more victories under his belt, his total gains by Wednesday morning will be impressive.
According to the Associated Press, Romney leads the pack in delegates with 203. Hot on his heels is former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum with 92. Towards the bottom of the list is former Georgia Congressman and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with 33, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul with 25.
Santorum had to choose his battlefields carefully, not having the money or organization to be competitive in all 10 states. Instead, he has chosen to devote the majority of his time in Ohio, Tennessee, and Oklahoma, with 167 delegates between those three.
As usual, all eyes will be on the perennial bellwether Ohio. Seventeen days ago, Santorum had a whopping 18-point lead over Romney. Today the majority of polls on Monday showed Romney and Santorum either tied or well within the margin of error. Santorum, while a point or two ahead in some polls, he failed to file for delegates in nine of the states districts. Ouch.
Gingrich is leading by double-digits in his adopted home state of Georgia, where 76 delegates are up for grabs, with Romney trailing a distant second. With Georgia carrying the most delegates of any Super Tuesday state, Gingrich hopes to use it to deal himself back in after a series of disappointing showings since South Carolina.
Paul will be counting on picking up some much-needed delegatesin in Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska, which are holding caucuses instead of primaries. The possibility of his winning a state however still remains low, although if this primary season has shown us anything, it's that anything can still happen.
Romney is poised to win in Idaho, as well as Virginia, although the latter will be far less surprising, due to the fact that Santorum and Gringrich did not make it on the ballot. Romney’s only competition in Virginia is Paul, although he will probably not put up too much of a fight. Romney will walk away with it in Massachusetts, and could also easily win nearby Vermont.
If Romney takes Idaho, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont and Virginia, he will have effectively crushed the competition. Winning five out of 10 states would be considered a pretty successful night by anyone’s standards. Even if Romney only takes four states, it will probably be a more than any of his competitors will take.
Conventional wisdom says that a lot of late-breaking voters typically break for the guy who has won the most recent contests or is leading nationwide. In both cases, that’s Mitt Romney. After taking home the gold in Arizona, Michigan and Washington, a Gallup poll taken March 5 has Romney leading Santorum 38% to 22%.
It’s always good to peak right before a big contest, and for Romney this could be the moment he has been waiting for. For weeks, Romney has been waiting for an opportunity to finally take out the competition. The results of his last three wins showed that he has gradually been making inroads with conservatives, as well as Catholics, which make up one of the largest voting blocs in the country.
While theres no way that Governor Romney will reach the coveted 1,144 delegate mark needed to clinch the Republican on Super Tuesday, adding another hundred or two to his already substantial lead would no doubt go a long way towards helping him to reach the finish line in Tampa this August. No matter what happens tonight, odds are that the smart money is still on Mitt Romney.
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