Super Tuesday’s wide-ranging contests offer the Republican campaign’s highest stakes contests yet, with 437 delegates up for grabs, more than all of this season’s nominating contests combined. Polls show Romney as the favorite to win Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Idaho and possibly Ohio. Rick Santorum looks to eke out victories in Tennessee and Oklahoma. Newt Gingrich appears poised to win Georgia, his home state. Contests in North Dakota and Alaska are harder to determine.
All of Tuesday’s contests give out delegates in some form of proportional award – unlike the winner-take-all primary in Arizona. In most states, the delegates will be split between at least two candidates.
Here is how polls predict Tuesday will play out:
Romney is a favorite in at least four of Super Tuesday’s 10 contests and stands a good chance of picking up Ohio despite, trailing Santorum in the Buckeye State only two weeks ago. Romney and Santorum stand at 34 and 31 percent in the state in a Quinnipiac poll released Monday; Romney trailed by seven points in late February. An automated PPP (D) poll released Monday showed Romney with 37 percent support to Santorum’s 36 percent.
Romney is headed to a landslide victory in Virginia, where Santorum and Gingrich failed to get on the ballot: He leads Ron Paul 69 to 26 percent in an NBC News/Marist College poll released Sunday.
Romney holds a commanding lead in his home state of Massachusetts, taking 64 percent support in a mid-February Suffolk poll; Paul stood in second place at 16 percent. The state’s former governor has an outside chance of winning nearly all delegates, since candidates must earn 15 percent of the statewide vote.
Romney also has an advantage in neighboring Vermont and led Santorum 34 to 27 percent in a Castleton College poll last month.
There are no public polls in Idaho, but the state’s large Mormon population (23 percent of adults in 2007) gives Romney, a Mormon, a big advantage. Mormons will probably make up a greater share of caucus-goers, and they voted almost unanimously for Romney in the Nevada and Arizona primaries this season.
Can Santorum hang on?
The former senator from Pennsylvania has lost momentum in Ohio but could still hang on to win Tennessee and Oklahoma. Santorum has a slight 34 to 29 percent edge in the Volunteer State, according to an automated PPP (D) poll. The poll did not call cellphones and is similar to another automated poll by a Rasmussen (R) survey this weekend. The PPD poll lowers the margin significantly from Santorum’s roughly 20-point lead reported in earlier surveys by Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee State universities.
In Oklahoma, Santorum leads Romney by a 37 to 26 percent margin in an American Research Group (ARG) poll released this weekend, drawing especially strong support from tea party backers.
Gingrich’s big Georgia prize
Gingrich is poised to dominate Georgia, leading Romney and Santorum by double digits in a Mason-Dixon poll released Sunday. He has a home field advantage, having held a Georgia congressional seat for nearly 20 years, and a win should give him a boost in the delegate battle, where the former House speaker has fallen far behind Romney and Santorum.
North Dakota and Alaska: Up for grabs
No polling has been released ahead of the Alaska and North Dakota caucuses, and it’s not clear if any candidate has a distinct advantage. Romney won both Alaska and North Dakota convincingly in 2008 when he was running as the conservative alternative to John McCain. But his campaign has struggled to woo the most conservative voters this year.
Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that Romney won 24 percent support in the 2008 Idaho primary. Romney won no support in that contest and had dropped out of the nomination race in February.