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Super Tuesday explained — in four groups

at 02:34 PM ET, 02/22/2012

In Wednesday’s paper, we break down how Super Tuesday is shaping up based on who is campaigning where.


Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney greets supporters at a campaign rally at Tri-City Christian Academy in Chandler, Ariz., Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. (Gerald Herbert - Associated Press)

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the 10 March 6 contests, broken down into four groups of states:

* The big states (Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee): These are the big delegate prizes for the candidates, and we’ve seen Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich all place at least some emphasis on these primaries by visiting or running ads. Not all of them are created equal — there has been much more emphasis on Ohio than Tennessee, for example — but the “winner” of Super Tuesday will almost undoubtedly be determined by who wins in these key states.

* The caucus/Ron Paul states (Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota): While Ron Paul is banking on all of them, Romney has an edge in Idaho based on that state’s high Mormon population and Santorum is focusing his Midwestern appeal on North Dakota.

* The Romney states (Massachusetts and Vermont): Don’t expect the former Massachusetts governor’s opponents to put up much of a fight in these two northeastern states’ primaries. People competed in New Hampshire a little bit because it was the only state voting that day and they had to, and they got whomped. On Super Tuesday, there’s really no reason for them to try and beat Romney here. Santorum’s campaign has essentially acknowledged it will sit these out.

* Virginia: This is the strangest contest of the day, because it pits Romney one-on-one with Paul (Gingrich and Santorum didn’t make the ballot). While it would be a shock if Romney didn’t win, it will be very interesting to see how much of the vote Paul can rack up when the field is distilled down to two candidates. It could be a shot-in-the-arm for his candidacy if he can prove broad appeal in a battleground state, perhaps by winning 30 percent or more of the vote — a number he has yet to win outside of low-turnout caucuses.

 
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