With ten states up for grabs on March 6th, it has been dubbed “Super Tuesday.” As the name suggests, it’s a critically important day in the race for the GOP nomination. Georgia, my home state, is a part of the election’s big day. As such, it’s only appropriate that I share a little preview of what we may see on Super Tuesday.
Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia are up for grabs.
In Alaska Todd Palin has officially endorsed Newt Gingrich while Sarah Palin has all but endorsed the Georgian. In 2008 Mitt Romney won over 43% of the Alaskan vote, and while Gingrich and Romney have their advantages, Santorum’s principled conservatism should play well with the blue-collar Republicans in our most northern state. Alaska’s 27 delegates are determined by caucus, which generally seems to favor candidates with more passionate followings. If not for the format of the election, I’d probably favor Romney, but given its quirky nature everyone has a chance, including Ron Paul who is still searching for his first victory and spending time and resources in Alaska. Polls are unavailable, making a prediction just about impossible.
Georgia is much easier to predict. Newt Gingrich’s home state is expected to fall his way. Santorum can’t be counted completely out in Georgia as his social conservatism helps him in southern states, such as in Tennessee where he is expected to win.
It’s critically important that Newt fails to regain his momentum and doesn’t get another shot at the nomination. Of the four remaining GOP candidates, Gingrich has the highest negatives and the largest deficit against Obama in hypothetical general election polls. It is in the GOP’s best interest to nominate one of the other three candidates. A loss or (more likely) a slim win in Georgia would quell hopes of a Gingrich surge.
One would expect Ohio, not to far from western Pennsylvania where Santorum has always made his hay, to support former Senator Santorum, but with Romney’s effective campaign working hard in the Buckeye state, it’s a nearly toss up right now. Either way, Santorum is ineligible for many of Ohio’s delegates due to procedural error on his campaign’s part and will suffer as a result.
North Dakota, Idaho, and Oklahoma are tougher to predict. North Dakota is free game for Ron Paul, where his strong ground game and resources make him competitive, but Romney has to be the default favorite. Oklahoma and their Evangelical voters are expected to go to Santorum.
“Idaho may end up in his [Romney’s] column because any state with a sizeable Mormon population is in play,” said Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. “They’re motivated and they turn out.”
Massachusetts, Vermont, and Virginia are just about locks for the front-runner Romney. Mitt Romney was fairly dominant in New Hampshire and I expect his moderate, “best to beat Obama” appeal to continue to play well in New England. In Virginia, Santorum and Gingrich did not make the ballot so it will be a two-man race between Romney and Ron Paul. Given the situation, I can’t fathom Romney not winning by a large margin. Even without the ballot fiasco I would have expected Virginians to support Romney.
Anything can happen on what will be an interesting day in American politics. Gingrich really must win Georgia and do it by 10+ points. He is expected to win Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina, and a few other post-Super Tuesday states, but he can’t lose all his budding momentum before then. Santorum has said he just needs to avoid “being voted off the island.” To do that he’ll need to win multiple states.
I think you’ll see Romney earn more Super Tuesday delegates than any of his competitors. It’s not at all unreasonable for him to win five of the ten states that will be voting or caucusing on the day, leaving just five states for the other three to squabble between. If Gingrich only wins Georgia, which seems to be the case, it’ll be hard to look at him as a viable candidate, but if Santorum has a poor showing he may retake the mantle as Romney’s chief rival. Regardless, we’ll have an exciting day that hopefully can go a long way towards wrapping up the nomination for someone, so the Republicans can stop arguing about minor differences in records and start going after Obama on blocking deep-sea drilling, stopping nuclear power growth, nixing the Keystone XL Pipeline, and blocking oil shale development as US gas prices shoot past an average price of $3.70/gallon.
Romney: Five States
Santorum: Three States
Gingrich: One State
Paul: One State
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