Victories last week in Arizona and Michigan have helped Mitt Romney maintain some hold as the frontrunner in the GOP primary. Now the four remaining Republican candidates will be looking ahead to Super Tuesday where ten states will vote this Tuesday. The following is a list of seven things to look for on Super Tuesday and how it could impact the GOP race as a whole.
Newt Gingrich’s last gasp
Gingrich has bet his campaign on performing well on Super Tuesday, especially in Georgia and other southern states. In fact, Newt has made it known that he needs to win the Georgia primary. After all, Georgia is Newt’s home state, and it certainly benefits him that Georgia has the most delegates of the ten states voting that day. Polling leading up to the Georgia primary has shown Gingrich in the lead, but I think if he were to lose Georgia then he would likely drop out of the race.
Gingrich is also betting on performing well in other southern states voting that day including Tennessee and Oklahoma. If his strategy works, he will continue to try it in southern states voting the week after including Alabama and Mississippi. However, he is going to have some tough competition in all four states from Rick Santorum.
It will be important on Super Tuesday on not only who turns out to vote but also who stays home. In comparison to the 2008 GOP primaries, voter turnout this time around has been down significantly in several states.
This is going to be crucial going forward, not only in the primaries but also the general election. In comparison to 2008, voter turnout was down 26 percent in the Nevada caucuses. Voter turnout was down over 20 percent in Minnesota and also down in Florida.
The state of Ohio is a crucial swing-state. Any of the candidates that wish to make the argument that they are the most electable need to win states like Ohio.
Santorum currently leads the polls. Losing the state would be a huge blow to the Romney campaign. A Quinnipiac University survey conducted between February 29 and March 1 showed Santorum with 35 percent and Romney with 31 percent, but keep in mind, Romney has been catching up over the past week.
The delegate count
No one truly knows what the delegate count is right now in the GOP primary. Many states lost delegates due to moving their primaries up early; some like Florida could lose their winner-take-all status, and the non-binding status of many delegates to the convention.
By some delegate estimates at the moment, Romney has 154; Santorum has 69; Gingrich has 33; Paul has 26. A candidate needs 1,144 to win. Super Tuesday has 437 delegates up for grabs, but none of the ten states are winner-take-all. If Gingrich and Santorum are able to manage some victories, it certainly looks like this race will end up being decided at the convention.
A brokered convention would be the nightmare scenario for the GOP establishment, and the very possibility could keep all four candidates in the race until the convention. This could lead to the nomination after several ballots of a candidate like Jeb Bush who obviously is not a tested candidate and probably doesn’t have the support of the party’s base.
Will conservatives rally around Romney?
The GOP establishment has thrown its support behind Romney at this point. However, the bigger is whether Romney will be able to earn the GOP’s base support and keep it. I personally don’t think he will be able to do so.
Margin of victory
After winning by only 3 percent in Michigan, Romney will need large margins of victories on Super Tuesday if he hopes to maintain a semblance of control on this race. Considering he will likely lose a few southern states and possibly Ohio, I don’t quite see that happening.
Will Ron Paul finally win a state on Super Tuesday? I don’t think so, but his best bets for victory lay in Alaska and Idaho. While his impact on the race for the moment has been minimal, any impact makes a difference in such a close primary.