McCain, Romney Lead GOP Field

This story was written by Colin Kavanaugh, Daily Pennsylvanian
The Grand Old Party might be able to celebrate a new nominee by tonight.

Twenty-one states will vote today for the Republican presidential nomination and pressure could not be greater with over half of all delegates at stake.

The Republican race has whittled down to four remaining candidates: John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. But it has become an increasingly competitive contest between Romney and McCain.

According to current polling data, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and McCain, an Arizona Senator, are the favored candidates nationally. But like any election, the race comes down to a collection of swing states, with each receiving ample amounts of campaign attention.

However, unlike the Democratic contest, there is not a substantial base of young voters for one candidate, as is the case with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Following McCain's victory in Florida last Tuesday, the race has seemingly shifted in his favor. However, California, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Massachusetts and Tennessee are all close races and may swing the nomination toward Romney, said Randall Miller, a St. Joseph's University professor and political analyst.

"The Republican stakes are huge," Miller said, attributing "winner-take-all-delegates" states as the primary cause.

"Even if [a candidate] doesn't win the nomination outright, they'll win so many delegates that the Republican race will be effectively over," Miller added.

California, however, is not a "winner-take-all" state. Delegates are apportioned equally to each of the 53 Congressional districts, meaning that less-populated districts receive the same weight as high-density ones.

Stanford sophomore Grant Everett Starrett, the national chairman of Students for Mitt Romney, believes that this is what has made California so contentious, and has forced campaigns to look toward students as pivotal voters there.

"For Democrats, the youth is a natural base," Starrett said, "but students have gotten more and more involved [with the Romney campaign] everyday."

Romney "has tried to get students involved at every level," Starrett said, and he expects the former governor to do well. Real Clear Politics' averages have McCain and Romney statistically tied in California.

But McCain leads in most of today's states -- including the delegate-rich Northeast -- and there seems to be a "sense of inevitability" concerning his success, Miller said.

College sophomore Zac Byer, the chairman of the Penn College Republicans, believes that, no matter what the expectations, "young voters who care will be coming out in full force."

If the nomination is wrapped up tonight, many pundits question whether the divided Republicans will be able to mend their differences and unite to win in November.

"Both sides will have to make overtures," Miller said. "Republicans will have to take stock and figure out how much they really want a Republican victory."
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