Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul must now focus on “Super Tuesday” and the primaries and caucuses in no less than 10 states. Here’s how it looks in those states in what will be a defining moment in the nomination process:
Alaska (27 delegates — caucus: closes at 12am EST) — Always a wild card and potentially a land of opportunity for Ron Paul. Alaska has a strong libertarian community and, in fact, has elected registered Libertarians to the state legislature.
Georgia (76 delegates — primary: closes at 7pm EST) — It is very likely make-or-break time for Newt Gingrich in his homestate, where backers of Romney and Paul plan to make a spirited effort. The most recent Landmark/Rosetta Stone poll showed the former Georgia congressman leading Santorum by a margin of 39 percent to 24 percent statewide, with Romney at 23 percent and Paul 9 percent. But the results from Michigan and resulting momentum could change this trend.
Idaho (32 delegates — caucus: closes at various times for different counties) — With strong support from party regulars as well as the Gem State’s influential Mormon community, Romney looms large as the favorite. But, as it is in Alaska, a strong libertarian community could work to the advantage of Ron Paul.
Massachusetts (41 delegates — primary: closes at 8pm EST) — No problems for Romney here. This is where he served as governor from 2002-06 and is one of the handful of states he carried in the ’08 presidential race.
North Dakota (28 delegates — caucus: closes at 9pm EST) — As much as caucuses and conventions work to the advantage of candidates such as Paul or Santorum, North Dakota is an exception. The Roughrider State is one in which Republicans hold all but one statewide office, have a majority in both houses of the legislature, and where the state party organization is well-oiled. For the most part, the organization is behind Romney.
Ohio (66 delegates — primary: closes at 7:30pm EST) — This could be the “big casino” of Super Tuesday for either Santorum or Romney. Once thought to be firmly in Romney’s grip, the Buckeye State has gradually moved toward Santorum in the primary season and a just-completed Rasmussen Poll showed him leading Romney by a margin of 42 percent to 24 percent, with Gingrich 13 percent and Paul 10 percent. Recently, Santorum got a boost when State Attorney General Mike DeWine switched from Romney to the Pennsylvanian. But Romney is likely to make a spirited effort here and is likely to have considerable backing from other elected and party officials.
Oklahoma (43 delegates — primary: closes at 8pm EST) — “Santorum Country” at this point, with the former senator leading Romney by a margin of 39 percent to 23 percent, followed by Gingrich at 18 percent and Paul 8 percent. But Romney backers insist they will make a spirited effort here and their man was recently endorsed by popular former Gov. Frank Keating.
Tennessee (58 delegates — primary: closes at 8pm EST) — Gingrich had once hoped to make a strong stand in the Volunteer State but was clearly wounded when his supporters failed to file a full delegate slate. The latest Vanderbilt University poll shows Santorum with 33 percent, Romney 17 percent, Paul 13 percent, and Gingrich 10 percent. Again, Romney is counting on his backing from elected and party officials to pull ahead.
Vermont (17 delegates — primary: closes at 7pm EST) — Like Massachusetts, this is Romney country and all polls show him winning handily.
Virginia (49 delegates — primary: closes at 7pm EST) — Romney by default. When Gingrich and other candidates failed to file the required signatures to be on the ballot (and then lost a subsequent attempt to do so through court action), Romney and Paul were the only candidates left to choose from. Popular Gov. Bob McDonnell supports Romney.