Up next: "Super Tuesday" - the Whopper of presidential politics
Fresh off two primaries in Arizona and Michigan, there is no rest for the weary. The candidates set their sights on the next major step (Washington holds its caucuses Saturday) in the presidential primary: "Super Tuesday."
In just six days, when ten states hold their nominating contests, more delegates will be awarded to the Republican presidential candidates in one day than all of the combined contests to date. It has become common for political party leaders build in a "Super Tuesday" each presidential election season hoping that a clear winner emerges from the delegate-rich day. It wasn't so super for Democrats in 2008, which saw their race continue into early summer, and it's possible it won't be so cut-and-dry for this year's Republican race, either. Even though Mitt Romney is leading the delegate count, he is struggling to pull away from his closest competitor Rick Santorum.
A whopping 437 delegates are at stake Tuesday, compared with fewer than 256 delegates, according to CBS News, that have been awarded in the first 11 contests. A candidate needs 1144 delegates to capture the nomination, which means that Super Tuesday awards a good chunk of them.
In addition to being delegate rich, the states voting represent diverse section of the country. Caucus-goers in Alaska, voters in southern states of Georgia and Tennessee, participants in rust-belt Ohio and the northeastern Vermont all have a say on "Super Tuesday."
Specifically, here are the states and the number of delegates at stake:
Alaska caucus - 27; Idaho caucus - 32; North Dakota caucus - 28; Oklahoma - 43; Ohio - 66; Tennessee - 58; Georgia - 76; Virginia - 49 (only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are on the ballot); Massachusetts - 41; Vermont - 17
It is a large number of states and not a whole lot of time, so the candidates have quickly turned their attention away from their previous victories and defeats. According to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum's schedule, he's going to hit at least three states with appearances on radio shows in Oklahoma and Ohio while he spends the day in Tennessee, three "Super Tuesday" states he's heavily contesting.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is spending the day in Ohio, where a latest poll shows Rick Santorum with an 11 point lead there. But those polls were conducted before Tuesday's twin victories for Romney in Arizona and Michigan.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who ignored Michigan and Arizona primaries, has focused his campaign on Super Tuesday in recent weeks, spends the day in his home state of Georgia.
"It's vital that we carry Georgia... the odds are pretty good that we're going to carry Georgia," Gingrich said Tuesday evening at West Georgia College. "We're going to keep campaigning here. We're going to keep developing ideas. We had a great time in Tennessee with Fred Thompson yesterday. I was in Oklahoma last week and then Ohio - we'll be back in Ohio Saturday so we're going to keep working it," he said."
Texas Representative Ron Paul has no campaign events scheduled today, but Wednesday in Springfield, Virginia, Paul told a packed crowd: "I guess the revolution has arrived in Virginia!"
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