How the Super Tuesday States Shape Up

How the Super Tuesday States Shape Up

By Erin McPike and Scott Conroy - March 6, 2012

ZANESVILLE, Ohio -- Mitt Romney told a crowd here Monday evening, "If you do your job tomorrow, we're going to win this thing."

He was speaking of the Buckeye State, but a larger meaning underlies his comment: The tight race in Ohio is symbolic of the Republican primary at large. If Romney can overcome his perceived weaknesses and Rick Santorum's strength on his right flank today, analysts say he stands to finally bury the notion that he can’t lock down the Republican nomination for president.

Campaigning in Ohio, he has appealed to voters’ heads while the more socially conservative Santorum has appealed to their hearts, which may explain why Romney ended his event here by saying, “I believe you are going to do the right thing tomorrow.”

Underscoring the importance of the state both in the primary and the general election, Romney spoke in front of a giant Ohio pennant displayed next to a giant American flag.

Nine other states are up for grabs today, making this a key moment in the campaign in terms of delegates and also in terms of perception. Depending on how the vote plays out, the likely nominee could be much clearer at the end of the day. Here’s a state-by-state précis of how Super Tuesday breaks down.

ALASKA (semi-open caucuses: 24 pledged and three unpledged delegates at stake)

Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate who has campaigned in the 49th state, drawing large and enthusiastic crowds in Anchorage and Fairbanks over the weekend.

The Texas congressman appears to have grounds for optimism that he can notch his first victory of the campaign in the caucuses here, which are open only to Republicans and voters who register with the GOP on site.

“There is a fairly significant libertarian undercurrent in Alaska, which will make Ron Paul’s message appealing,” said Alaska pollster Ivan Moore. “I’m not sure that Santorum would [do] very well up here. Alaska’s not a particularly strong fundamentalist religious state. Our primary characteristic up here is that we’re a long way away from everywhere.”

In 2008, Romney won the state’s low-turnout caucuses with just under 6,000 votes. He has been running radio ads in the state’s low-cost media market, and his son Josh held events in Fairbanks and Eagle River to try to drum up support.

GEORGIA (open primary: 76 delegates at stake)

Newt Gingrich has acknowledged that he needs a victory here in order to remain a viable candidate, and he appears poised for a resounding win in the state that he represented in Congress for two decades.

The former House speaker leads in every recent poll conducted in Georgia, which offers the largest Super Tuesday delegate haul.

In Peach State campaign stops last week, Gingrich drew large and enthusiastic crowds, while Santorum could barely manage to turn out 150 people at a hastily scheduled Atlanta airport rally.

Despite his relative lack of any organization in the state, Santorum should remain competitive in the rural areas, while Romney is strong in metropolitan Atlanta, which is expected to account for about 45 percent of the Republican electorate, according to Georgia pollster Mark Rountree.

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Erin McPike and Scott Conroy are national political reporters for RealClearPolitics. Erin can be reached at Scott can be reached at

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