What’s at stake on Super Tuesday?

There are 437 delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday, more than the total awarded so far in the GOP presidential race. In this video, The Fix's Chris Cillizza uses graphics to explain which states are most important and why the Republican party remains a long way from naming a nominee.

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  • Delegate race
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To win the nomination, a candidate needs more than half of the 2,286 delegates. In recent years, a clear winner typically emerged early in the race, reducing the importance of the delegate count. This year, because of how the GOP allocated delegates, the race remains tight.

All candidates

delegates awarded

delegates
at stake

Click each candidate to see how far they are from winning 1,144 delegates.

Total
delegates
TOTAL NEEDED TO WIN NOMINATION

The GOP party changed the rules to prevent one candidate from amassing a huge delegate lead before most states had a chance to vote.

Super Tuesday
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FEBRUARY
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*345 delegates were available in the first 11 states on the GOP presidential calendar, though not all of them have been projected. In addition, Wyoming's 29 delegates have been projected by some media outlets at the conclusion of that state's caucuses, which is why the number in the delegate tracker is 355. | Note: The graph shows all delegates as awarded by their state's primary or caucus. While some RNC delegates have told the Associated Press which candidate they support, their votes are only shown in the graph if their state primary or caucus has already passed. Source: AP, staff reports. Delegate tracker interactive by Todd Lindeman, Aaron Blake, Sisi Wei and Karen Yourish. View this graphic on a separate page.


Alaska

In the world of low turnout votes, the Alaska primary may take the cake. In the 2008 Republican caucuses less than 14,000 people cast votes. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has kind of, sort of endorsed Newt Gingrich but it's not clear whether that's a good, bad or indifferent thing as it relates to the former House speaker's chances in the Last Frontier.

More coverage: Who's visiting Alaska?

Georgia

This is a must-win state for Gingrich. It's his home state and by far his best chance to score a win in a Super Tuesday state. Polling suggests Gingrich is holding a steady lead in the Peach State, with the most recent polling showing him leading by 20 points. If Newt loses Georgia, it's hard to see how he can justify staying in the race.

More coverage: Georgia's political geography  |  Who's visiting Georgia?

Idaho

This may be the biggest battleground of the three caucus states holding contests on Super Tuesday. Mitt Romney should do well here because the state is about one-quarter Mormon, but Ron Paul has eyed the state as one that he could potentially win. (It was his best state in 2008; he took 24 percent in what was then a primary). And Rick Santorum and Gingrich have also visited the state in recent weeks. So there's plenty of competition here.

More coverage: Who's visiting Idaho?

Massachusetts

Romney will win. While he may have called Michigan his home state, this is the state where he was recently governor and where his more moderate politics make him a heavy favorite. But keep this in mind: He beat Arizona Sen. John McCain just 51 percent to 41 percent in Massachusetts on Super Tuesday 2008, so it's not like this is a guaranteed blowout. (Then again, McCain was seen as the more moderate candidate in that race).

More coverage: Who's visiting Massachusetts?

North Dakota

This is a caucus state and, as such, may give Paul a fighting chance. But, Romney isn't ceding the state to Paul. He won the North Dakota caucuses in 2008, and also has the backing of Sen. John Hoeven, the most popular Republican elected official in the Peace Garden State.

More coverage: Who's visiting North Dakota?

Ohio

Ohio is shaping up to be a showdown between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney and his supporters have blitzed the airwaves with ads all over the state, dwarfing spending by Santorum and the other candidates. The state's blue-collar demographics, however, could favor Santorum, who is preaching a message of economic populism and playing up his roots as a regular working-class guy from neighboring Pennsylvania.

More coverage: Ohio's political geography  |  Who's visiting Ohio?

Oklahoma

Oklahoma combines Rick Santorum's strength in the Midwest with Newt Gingrich's in the South. It's not a strong state for Mitt Romney, but he could shoot the gap if Santorum and Gingrich split the conservative vote.

More coverage: Oklahoma's political geography  |  Who's visiting Oklahoma?

Tennessee

The Volunteer State is often overlooked when analyzing key Super Tuesday states. It shouldn't be. Tennessee will dole out 58 delegates on Tuesday — though the complicated allocation rules make it tough for any one candidate to amass a large majority of the state's delegates — and it may be the purest test of southern strength on Super Tuesday, particularly since Gingrich has a home state edge in Georgia.

More coverage: Tennessee's political geography  |  Who's visiting Tennessee?

Vermont

None of the other candidates will try to challenge Romney's dominance in the Green Mountain State. A poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute, which was in the field for a decidedly too-long 10 days, showed Romney leading Santorum 34 percent to 27 percent in Vermont but that seems a too-narrow margin for the former Massachusetts governor. Vermont will be a bright spot for Romney next Tuesday. The question is whether he will have enough other bright spots for it to matter.

More coverage: Who's visiting Vermont?

Virginia

This is the oddest contest of the day, because it pits Romney against Paul, one-on-one. Santorum and Gingrich (along with every other candidate who was in the race) didn't qualify for the ballot, leaving Romney and Paul to duke it out. Assuming Paul doesn't shock the world by actually competing with Romney here, Romney should be able to lock up all of the state's 49 delegates by winning the statewide vote and each congressional district.

More coverage: Who's visiting Virginia?

— Analysis from The Fix


Super Tuesday is finally here. We thought Mitt Romney might have this race wrapped up in January, but surprisingly enough Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who lost his re-election race by 18 points in 2006, is posing a serious challenge to Romney.

So where are we today? We're in a race for delegates. And there are about 2,300 total delegates up for grabs in the primary process. And you need about 1,200 of those to become the Republican nominee. We're still very much in the infant stages. We've got just 345 delegates apportioned to date, with another 437 to be given out on Super Tuesday.

There are ten states in play all across the country on Super Tuesday. But there are a big four that you should really keep an eye on.

Let's start with Ohio. Now, this is 66 delegates in a mid-western, blue-collar state that's going to matter in the general election. Eight in ten voters in Ohio have a median income of $100,000 or less. This should be Santorum territory, but Romney cannot cede an important general election state to the former Pennsylvania senator.

Now let's move southward to Oklahoma, one of the most Republican states in the country. This should be a place where Santorum does quite well; Romney may not even in fact play very seriously.

Headed eastward over to Tennessee. There's a very religious electorate in Tennessee. Almost seven in ten Tennessee voters attend church weekly. Should be a good day for Rick Santorum in Tennessee, with the possibility that a son of the south, Newt Gingrich, does better than we expect.

Now, then there's Georgia. This is Gingrich's home state. If he can't win here, he can't win anywhere. Romney will probably make a run at him and finish second with a strong showing in the Atlanta suburbs. These are the counties that ring Atlanta proper and that really have fiscally conservative but socially moderate voters that are right in Romney's wheelhouse.

Now there are six other states voting on Super Tuesday. Two of them, Massachusetts and Vermont, will be for Romney. He's the former governor of Massachusetts, he won the New Hampshire primary, and he's going to win the Vermont primary.

Heading south on the east coast to Virginia. This should be a competitive race, but only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul made the ballot. Romney is going to win.

And then we go west, to Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska. Now, all of these states hold caucuses, and they hold the hope for Ron Paul that low turnout could give him his first victory in a primary or a caucus since he began running for president, way back in 2008.

There are three basic scenarios on how Super Tuesday could play out. The first: Mitt Romney sweeps almost every state that's on the ballot. That would give him 300-plus delegates and give him a real stranglehold on the nomination.

Scenario No. 2: Santorum wins everywhere except Massachusetts and Vermont. That would be more than a 220 delegate windfall for Santorum, and really turn this into a two-man race between him and Romney.

Now the third and final option: Santorum and Romney split the votes. Santorum wins a few states, Romney wins a few states, heck, Ron Paul might even win a few states. All that means is that we're continuing on.

Now speaking of continuing on: Super Tuesday is super important, but we still have a very long way to go before we know who the Republican nominee will be.

So now you know everything you need to know about the Republican delegate hunt. To learn more, and to follow the 2012 presidential race, check out all the great tools on this page.

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