Nest week is Super Tuesday. It was designed to clear any remaining contenders from the GOP presidential field. In past years, this has been the case. This year, Super Tuesday looks like a train wreck ready to cloud the nomination process further.
Twelve states have voted or are voting, although Missouri awarded no delegates and many of the caucus states have a long, drawn out process of delegate apportioning. Wyoming is one of those states. Its caucuses have already started but complete on Super Tuesday.
The media is trying to keep a running count of each candidate’s delegates, but the totals are all over the place, with the only constant being Mitt Romney as the front runner. The variations come from the byzantine process of delegate selection and super delegates who may or may not have endorsed a candidate. At this point, it is misleading to look at one media count and accept it as fact. After Tuesday, the varying totals may become a complete distortion.
Looking at the chart, Romney has anywhere from 142-167 delegates. Considering the process, the variation is within reason. However, Rick Santorum varies from 48 to 83. That is nearly a doubling from his low count. Newt Gingrich has from 28 to 39. Ron Paul varies from 15 to 27, but persistent rumors have suggested that the Paul campaign is having a bigger effect than that in the caucus states. His numbers may grow as the caucuses proceed deeper into the selection process.
Just as important as the actual numbers is the percentage that Romney has compared to the other candidates. He is over 50% in all counts. For Romney, that is great news. He needs to stay above 50% to amass the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination. He can probably amass enough delegates at the convention even if he is slightly below the 50% mark coming in. If he falls to 45%, however, Romney might be in trouble.
This brings us to Super Tuesday. There are 11 states voting that day, including Wyoming, which has already started voting. Washington can be added to this mix (its caucuses are three days earlier) for a grand total of 509 delegates. This is nearly double the 250-300 that have already committed from the above totals. The potential to clear the path for the nomination is there for Romney as the frontrunner. Yet this mix of states does not bode well for Romney. That is why a week from now bears the likelihood of one huge mess for the Republican Party.
Here are the states with the most recent poll or polls available:
No current polls were found for several states were Romney may do well, but Paul may also perform strongly in those too. Santorum is a big unknown and Gingrich will be a minor player. These states are Alaska (27 delegates), Idaho (32 delegates) and North Dakota (28 delegates). Massachusetts (41 delegates) is also holding a primary and should go solidly for Romney.
A rough count of all this gives Romney around 225 delegates, Santorum 165, Gingrich 60 and Paul 50. Adding those delegates to the current totals puts Romney around 385, Santorum 225, Gingrich 90 and Paul 75. Most significantly, Romney’s percentage falls from comfortably over 50% to the critical mark of 50%. This will only raise further questions about Romney’s status as the front runner. It spells vulnerability. The rest of the month is not much better as many Southern states hold primaries. Those are places that Santorum and Gingrich are expected to do well.
Barring a strong spike in support, next Tuesday doesn’t look good for Romney’s march to the nomination.