The first thing I think of on Martes Gigante is how many delegates are at stake.
437 soft-serve delegates are up for grabs in 10 states, and the big state to watch is Ohio. While former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum carried a lead in the Buckeye State prior to Michigan and Arizona, lots of polls are basically calling it a toss-up now. And if Ohio is a toss-up, that means former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will carry the state. Michigan was a prime example of organization trumping the vote, and Romney has far more money and people.
With turnout likely to stay on the low side, Rick Santorum faces an uphill battle, as absentees will keep Mitt ahead throughout the night. If Michigan was an indicator of a shifting electorate, Ohio will also reflect the same tendency of voters going into Tuesday. It’s still possible a lot of people will turn out and vote, but there’s little evidence of it. Eastern Ohio will be a big question mark, as blue-collar conservatives have to show up to keep this state close for Santorum.
Tennessee is the big toss-up after Ohio, with two major metropolitan regions of strong social conservative leaning. Rick Santorum needs this state to stay relevant, and it’s unlikely anyone else stands a chance here.
Where there’s a strong base of social conservatives, expect Santorum to clean up.
Another state to take an early look at is Oklahoma, where Rick Santorum should win without much of a challenge. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has a lot of support with the Oklahoma establishment folks, but it’s doubtful he has any momentum, especially with zero debates to help him (the recent Fox Forum was the last chance he had). Newt’s math includes taking Tennessee, Georgia and Oklahoma in order to stay relevant. It’s not impossible, but it will be a difficult path.
In Virginia, Vermont, Massachusetts, Alaska, North Dakota and Idaho, it’s looking like Mitt. After seeing Washington go Mitt by double-digits, it’s hard to hope for a Ron Paul movement in Idaho. Rep. Paul has a shot in Alaska, North Dakota and Idaho, and a lot of delegates can be won. But that’s hard to reasonably justify after seeing how Washington went last week.
I call six states for Mitt (OH, VA, VT, MA, ID, AK, ND), two states for Santorum (TN, OK), and Newt gets the leftovers with Georgia. It’s the populist logic here, but I still like to toy with the idea that the GOP base may still yet have a surprise for us.
The worst case scenario brings Mitt a great deal of pain. If the electorate is still unhappy with Mitt, we’ll see Santorum take four more states (OH, ID, AK, ND) with Tennessee and Oklahoma, or draw enough votes to give Paul a lot of delegates. Mitt is basically guaranteed Virginia, Vermont and Massachusetts, but he must win Ohio or he’ll “lose” Martes Gigante.
I actually feel for Mitt. He has so much to surmount, that even if he takes more delegates than other candidates, he may lose the narrative on both liberal and conservative media fronts.
And since Newt is pretty much winning Georgia, we will still see him motoring around after Super Tuesday. He is now the political groundhog of primaries, guaranteeing six more weeks no matter what.
It could be even more complicated, because there’s an outside chance Ron Paul takes Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota. If that happens, the GOP may implode.
All of these outcomes place more attention on Tampa, as key states split delegates, placing more emphasis on delegate math. Instead of getting easy-to-digest state winners, it’s quickly becoming standard for any GOP voter to review and understand the process of nomination and delegate math.
Ron Paul fans, this is the time to shine.
Martes Gigante del Paul has to focus on Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota. Virginia is a long shot. The state will likely become a winner-take-all state with only 2 candidates on the ballot. In VA, if one candidate carries the majority of the total vote, it becomes a winner-take-all state, awarding all delegates to the majority winner. So Paul fans should ignore Virgina, because getting your hopes up on the state isn’t healthy.
Officially, it’s 1:00 A.M. on Super Tuesday. Martes Gigante is upon us.