Wave of delegates up for grabs

Only 248 of the 1,144 delegates needed to win in the Republican primary have been awarded and so here is a quick look at where the four remaining candidates stand and what their options are going forward. From now through Super Tuesday there are a total of 539 votes at stake Here is a look at what is coming up in the next month.

February 28 – Arizona (29) and Michigan (30)

Arizona is a winner take all state and has 29 delegates up for grabs and Michigan is a hybrid proportional state with 30 delegates in play. In Michigan 1.5 delegates are awarded to the winners of each congressional district.

According to the latest PPP poll, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads by a slim margin in Arizona over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 36 percent to 33 percent . Arizona is a stronghold for Romney as he has received endorsements from politicians in the state, most notably Sen. John McCain, and gathers a great deal of support from the state’s reasonably large Mormon population. However, if Santorum continues to do well in national polls he will have a good chance to win in the state.

The PPP poll has Santorum ahead of Romney by four points, but the lead has narrowed dramatically in the last few weeks, as Santorum had a 15-point lead on February 13. Romney will most likely take the most Michigan delegates as it is his home state and to lose would be catastrophic for his campaign.

March 3 – Washington (43)

Washington has 43 delegates at stake, but none are bound to commit and 3 of the delegates are RNC officials. Santorum is doing well in the state polls and is ahead by 11 points over Romney in the latest Washington state PPP poll, with Texas Rep. Ron Paul taking 15 percent and former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich coming in last with 12 percent.

While any kind of change can happen with the results of the Arizona and Michigan and Arizona elections, it is worth noting that the March 1 Georgia Republican debate has been cancelled. If Gingrich was going to have a surge it may be stumped by the loss of his greatest strength just several days before the election.

March 6 (Super Tuesday) – Alaska (27), Georgia (76), Idaho (32), Massachusetts (41), North Dakota (28), Ohio (66), Oklahoma (43), Tennessee (58), Vermont (17), Virginia (49)

Super Tuesday is the biggest day on the Republican primary calendar and could make or break any of the remaining candidates. Republican primaries have rarely ever lasted until Super Tuesday, which only goes to show how wild this year’s race has been. It may be the last chance for Gingrich to revive his campaign, but could also sink him if he can’t pull off a few victories.

Romney will most likely take most of the delegates in the proportional state of Massachusetts since he was the governor in that state and it is his home territory. Romney will also most likely make a clean sweep of the 17 delegates in Vermont, which is a proportional state as well. The closest challenger may be Paul, who performed well in western New Hampshire.

The latest poll numbers in Oklahoma have Santorum leading Romney by 16 points and Gingrich by 21 points. This is a bad sign for Gingrich as it is a state that he needs to perform well in to gain traction.

In Virginia only Romney and Paul will be competitive since they are the only two candidates that made it on the ballot. Romney leads by a large margin.

The big fight on Super Tuesday may well be in Ohio which has 66 votes at stake and is proportional. Ohio will be a critical state in the general election and may determine whether or not a Republican will unseat President Obama. Santorum leads in Ohio according to the latest Ohio Quinnipiac poll, but by a fairly thin margin, and Gingrich has a solid base of support as well. All of the candidates have spent a great deal of time campaigning in the state.

Gingrich has an Insider Advantage polling lead in just his home state of Georgia, by a thin 2-point margin over Romney, and a 3-point advantage over Santorum. While Georgia has 76 delegates at stake it is a proportional state, so its benefit to Gingrich if he pulls out the win will be lessened.