Ten states will vote in Republican primaries today with 437 delegates at stake. There has not been any recent, reliable polling in any of the caucus states. All of the polling cited is from states with primaries.
Delegate Count Needed
Win the Nomination 1144
Totals as of 3/4/12
Current Assessment: Romney - Paul Toss Up
How delegates are awarded: 24 of Alaska's 27 delegates are awarded proportionately based on the statewide caucus vote. These 24 delegates are formally bound to vote at the convention, at least on the first ballot, for the candidate for whom they were selected. Alaska's 3 super delegates are free to vote as they see fit. Their votes are unbound and are not tied in any way to the outcome of the state caucus vote.
Analysis: The home of former Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, Alaska has a fairly large block of evangelical voters. Governor Romney won the caucuses in Alaska in 2008. However, Congressman Ron Paul has raised more money than Mr. Romney in Alaska this year and the state has fairly strong libertarian leanings. It remains to be seen if fiscal conservatism or social conservatism proves to be the primary factor that sways the voters.
Current Assessment: Solid Gingrich
How delegates are awarded: In Georgia, 42 delegates are awarded by Congressional district; a candidate wins all 3 delegates in a district if he gets a majority of the vote in that district, otherwise the delegates are split 2-to-1 between the top two finishers in the district. Another 31 delegates are awarded proportionately among those candidates winning at least 20 percent of the total statewide vote. Finally, Georgia is among the states that binds its 3 super delegates; they are awarded winner-take-all to the statewide victor of the primary and these super-delegates are required to vote for the candidate for whom they were selected.
Recent polling: Newt Gingrich has had some favorable momentum in recent polls and looks as though he will win his home state. The FiveThirtyEight model developed by Nate Silver of the New York Times projects former Speaker Gingrich to get 43 percent of the vote, versus 27 percent for Governor Romney and 21 percent for Senator Santorum.
Analysis: Former Speaker Gingrich is likely to receive a majority of the votes cast in his stronger Congressional districts, which would earn him all 3 rather than 2 delegates in such a district. Governor Romney is expected to do well and possibly win in some of the wealthier Congressional districts in suburban Atlanta. Senator Santorum, most recently projected to take 21 percent of the vote statewide, is in some danger of failing to meet the 20 percent qualifying threshold for the award of statewide delegates. As Senator Santorum, is reasonably close to Governor Romney in the statewide polls, he is likely to finish second in some of the more rural Congressional districts.
Current Assessment: Lean Romney
How delegates are awarded: Idaho's delegate selection rules are quite complex. County delegates are selected on a winner-take-all basis after a series of votes in which those county delegate candidates receiving the fewest number of votes are successively eliminated from the ballot. (The procedure used is similar to the delegate qualification threshold that is used in caucus procedures employed by Democrats in Iowa.) If one Presidential candidate receives 50 percent or more of the county delegates once all such delegates have been selected, that Presidential candidate receives all 32 delegates to the national convention; otherwise, Iowa's 32 Republican delegates are split proportionately in accordance with the number of county delegates chosen for each Presidential candidate.
Analysis: Both Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul have campaigned in Idaho and, when the state of Washington voted, Congressman Paul performed fairly strongly in some of the Washington counties that border Idaho. However, 27 percent of Idaho voters are Mormon voters, more than any other state except Utah, a fact that should be very helpful to Governor Romney. Idaho is also one of the few Republican states where second-choice preferences matter since candidates are sequentially eliminated from the ballot if they do not have enough votes, something which could harm Mr. Paul since his supporters tend to be all-or-nothing voters who vote for Congressman Paul and no one else.
Current Assessment: Solid Romney
How delegates are awarded: Massachusetts' rules are relatively simple: 38 are awarded proportionately among candidates getting at least 15 percent of the vote statewide. The state's 3 super delegates are free agents who are not bound to vote for any candidate.
Recent polling: Mr. Romney is projected to receive about 64 percent of the vote in his home state, with Mr. Santorum at 21 percent and Mr. Paul at 9 percent.
Analysis: The question is whether either or both former Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul will reach the 15 percent support threshold required to be eligible for statewide delegates. Recent forecasts project that Mr. Santorum will meet this threshold and that Mr. Paul will not.
Current Assessment: Lean Romney
How delegates are awarded: North Dakota's caucus rules are simple. There is just one vote taken in each precinct to select delegates, with delegate allocation tied directly, and roughly proportionately, to presidential preference.
Analysis: Many observers had considered Mr. Santorum the favorite here, since he won the neighboring state of Minnesota by a wide margin and since Mr. Romney has struggled in rural areas. However, Mr. Santorum has performed disappointingly in caucuses in Maine and Washington since winning Minnesota. Recently, Governor Romney's prospects have been improving. He made a recent visit to Fargo, where an oil boom in the state has created some new wealth. This state represents a natural constituency for many of the policies that Governor Romney is promoting. Therefore, although North Dakota will receive less attention than a state like Tennessee, should current trends hold, it could present another opportunity for Mr. Romney to demonstrate that he is successfully expanding the scope of his coalition.
Current Assessment: Romney - Santorum Toss-Up
How delegates are awarded: In Ohio, most of the delegates (48) are awarded winner-take-all by Congressional district. Note, however, that Rick Santorum does not have full delegate slates in some districts and thus will not be eligible to win delegates there even if he should win a particular Congressional district. (Santorum could end up losing up to 18 delegates as a result of his failure to field full delegate slates in all Congressional districts.) Another 15 delegates will be awarded proportionately among candidates winning at least 20 percent of the vote statewide unless one candidate gets an outright majority of the statewide vote, in which case he wins all 15. Finally, Ohio's 3 super delegates are free agents who are not bound by the results of the primary.
Recent polling: The polls started the week showing Mr. Santorum with a slight lead. The conventional wisdom, and the most recent polling, suggests that Mr. Romney is closing strongly. There is a split in the most recent polling with differing polls showing Santorum and Romney each leading. What is clear is that all of the most recent polling results fall within each poll's statistical margin of error, thus making the state a true toss-up. The polling also suggests that 40 percent of those polled have a lesser opinion of the Republican candidates since the Republican primary process began. This reinforces the belief among many political observers that it is in the interest of the Republican party to arrive at a nominee as soon as feasible, to avoid the risk of turning off even more independent voters. This is a constituency whose support is essential for the Republican candidate to be competitive against President Obama in the November elections.
Analysis: The media has declared, and will treat, Ohio as the key matchup of Super Tuesday. If Senator Santorum manages to win the popular vote in the state, his candidacy is likely to remain viable for a an extended period even if, as is likely because of Senator Santorum's problems in getting delegates on the ballot, Governor Romney ends up with a majority of the delegates in the state. A Santorum win, however slight, will reignite often-expressed Republican concerns, especially among conservatives, about the strength of Governor Romney's candidacy. Conversely, if Governor Romney should win the popular vote in Ohio and perform as expected in the balance of the states on Super Tuesday, the results will propel the Romney candidacy forward and could create the sort of momentum that would make Mr. Romney impossible to stop. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul each currently project below 20 percent of the statewide vote, which would leave them ineligible for statewide delegates, although some believe that Mr. Gingrich still has a chance of reaching this threshold.
Current Assessment: Lean Santorum
How delegates are awarded: Each of Oklahoma's 5 congressional districts awards 3 delegates and a candidate takes all 3 if he wins a majority in the district. Otherwise, the 3 delegates are split either 2-to-1 or 1-1-1 depending on how many candidates get at least 15 percent of the vote in a district. Another 25 delegates are determined by the statewide vote. A candidate takes all 25 delegates if he wins a majority of the statewide vote; otherwise, these 25 delegates are allocated proportionately among candidates hitting a 15 percent qualifying threshold. Oklahoma also has 3 super delegates, who are free agents unbound by the primary result.
Recent polling: This is Mr. Santorum's strongest state, although he has slipped some -- the most recent polls project that he will receive about 39 percent of the vote, whereas he had been on track for a percentage in the 40's before. Mr. Romney is currently projected second at 28 percent, with Mr. Gingrich at 23 percent. Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight model gives Governor Romney about a 10 percent chance of winning the state.
Analysis: Assuming that Mr. Santorum will win 4 of the 5 Congressional districts (but by varying margins and triggering different delegate rules) and applying the most recent FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver New York Times forecast, it computes to about 22 delegates for Santorum, with Mr. Romney getting 11 and Mr. Gingrich 7. Not too long ago, Mr. Santorum's numbers put him within reach of the 50 percent majority threshold that would result in his receiving all 39 elected delegates, but that threshold is no longer believed to be achievable.
Current Assessment: Lean Santorum
How delegates are awarded: Here, 27 delegates are awarded by Congressional district (3 per district) but a candidate must win two-thirds of the vote in the district, not a simple majority, to win all 3 delegates in a particular district. Otherwise, they are split 2-to-1 between the top two finishers in most circumstances. Another 28 delegates are awarded proportionately among candidates winning at least 20 percent of the vote unless one candidate wins two-thirds of the vote statewide, in which case he takes all 28 such delegates. Tennessee's 3 super delegates are free agents who are unbound.
Recent polling: Mr. Romney has reduced much of his deficit against Mr. Santorum in the Tennessee polls and now trails by about 4 points. As Romney has not been expected to win in Tennessee and is still an underdog, a Romney win in a Southern state not expected to have supported him would feed the perception that Super Tuesday was truly a super day for Romney.
Analysis: Because Tennessee requires candidates to win two-thirds of the vote before winner-take-all rules apply, which is an unusual and extremely high threshold, its delegates are likely to be split in a relatively proportional way, both at the state level and in the congressional districts. As Speaker Gingrich's vote is currently projected to be around the 20 percent threshold, he could receive as many as 6 or as few as 0 delegates. If Gingrich gets 6 delegates, Santorum and Romney are currently projected to get about 27 and 22 delegates respectively.
Current Assessment: Lean Romney
How delegates are awarded: Vermont's 3 super delegates are bound by the results of the primary and awarded on a winner-take-all basis. If a candidate wins a majority statewide, he gets all 14 delegates; otherwise, the remaining 14 are awarded proportionately with a 20 percent qualifying threshold.
Recent polling: No reliable, recent polling exists.
Analysis: Vermont's demographics are not all that favorable to Mr. Romney. Although it is in New England, it is very rural and has relatively low incomes and something of an anti-establishment streak. However, Vermont is certainly not socially conservative, and the state's primary is open to all voters. Vermont may be a decent state for Mr. Paul, who ran quite evenly with Mr. Romney in the western New Hampshire towns that border Vermont. The lack of reliable, recent polling makes this result strictly a guessing game.
Current Assessment: Solid Romney (Only Romney and Paul are on the ballot)
How delegates are awarded: Virginia awards many of its delegates, 33, on a winner-take-all basis by Congressional district. Mr. Romney and Mr. Paul are the only two candidates on the ballot and thus one of them is guaranteed to achieve a majority that will entitle that candidate to 13 delegates. Virginia's 3 super delegates are unbound.
Recent polling: Some of the polls have shown high numbers of undecided voters and it is unclear how such voters will behave at the ballot booth, given the absence of Santorum and Gingrich from the ballot. Still, as a number of voters with concerns about Romney may nonetheless be unwilling to vote for Congressman Paul, Mr. Romney should win big here.
Analysis: Mr. Romney will win the 13 statewide delegates unless there is an incredible surprise. While it is possible that Congressman Paul could win one Congressional district that is somewhat rural, there is a very good chance that Governor Romney could end up winning all 33 delegates awarded by Congressional district.