Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Super Tuesday: It Begins

Do you smell that? That’s the pungent odor of Democracy, a musky mix of the unwashed masses and filthy rich donors. Ten states, ten contests, and 437 delegates up for grabs. Here are the preliminaries you should keep in mind as we head into the voting today.

The current delegate count:

Romney: 180
Santorum: 90
Newt Gingrich: 29
Ron Paul: 23

[Note: these numbers are questionable, and some counts have Romney with as low as 118 delegates, with Gingrich in second and Santorum third. The only constant is that Romney is in first and Paul is last.]

There are also two delegates won by Jon Huntsman, and they will have to vote as such during the first round at the convention (at least, that is my understanding), but they can switch to any other candidate during a second round, like all other delegates.

The magic number is 1144. That is how many delegates are needed to win the nomination. If you do the math, it’s impossible for any of the candidates to achieve that today, but Romney could conceivably be half-way there by tomorrow morning (though don’t bet on it). Altogether, there are still 1962 delegates up for grabs.

Ohio will be where most are focusing, and for good reason. With 66 delegates, it’s a big one. There’s no clear front-runner yet. Like most Midwestern states, it’s too close to call between Romney and Santorum. Most are saying a Santorum loss in Ohio will be the nail in the coffin of his campaign. Romney has an advantage here, because Santorum (and Gingrich) failed ot get on the ballot in many Ohio districts.

Georgia (76 delegates) will likely go to Gingrich, and most polls show that it’s not even close, but a loss here is not outside the realm of possibility, and the defeat of Gingrich in his home state would almost certainly cause him to pack it in later this week or next.

Tennessee (58 delegates) is perhaps the best kept secret of Super Tuesday. Another Romney/Santorum toss-up, a win here would be huge for either candidate, but it would especially lend credibility to Romney’s campaign. Tennessee culturally straddles the two regions Romney does most poorly in: the South and the Midwest. A win here for Romney would mean more than delegates.

While the campaigns of Santorum and Gingrich dropped the ball when it came to making sure their candidate was on the ballot everywhere in Ohio, they completely fell on their face in Virginia. Only Romney and Paul are on the ballot there, so expect a blow-out win for Romney.

Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota are generally overlooked caucus states with low delegate counts, but collectively, they are worth 87 delegates. Romney is expected to do particularly well in Mormon-heavy Idaho. Paul is expected to do well in Alaska (he is the only candidate to have actually visited the state this year) and North Dakota. Either could be Paul’s first state win as a presidential candidate.

Massachusetts (41 delegates) ought to be in the bag for Romney, and he will also likely snag Vermont (17), though Paul has a sporting chance in the mountainous libertarian stronghold. This leaves only Oklahoma (43), where Romney finds himself in another dead heat with Santorum.

Don’t forget to check out Skeptical Eye tonight, starting at 8pm Eastern Time. It’s going to be a party of epic proportions, and you can tell, because the invitation says “8pm - ???” Come get your politic on, leave some comments, explain to me why none of this matters, and tell me all about how Ron Paul is being screwed over by the media.

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