On Sunday we witnessed one of the most entertaining and improbable Super Bowls in years as the New York Giants walked away with a stunning last minute win over the New England Patriots. Will the entertaining and improbable nature of Super Bowl Sunday carryover to Super Tuesday or will there be defining victories tonight?
There has never been a more important single primary day in the history of American politics than today when millions of Americans from coast to coast will head to their states primaries and caucuses to cast votes in 21 Republican and 23 Democratic contests. Many of these contests are already considered to be locked up for one candidate (On the Republican side — Arizona – McCain, New York – McCain, Connecticut – McCain, New Jersey – McCain, Utah – Romney, and Massachusetts – Romney) (On the Democratic side — New York – Clinton, Massachusetts – Clinton, and Illinois – Obama). That being said, these aren’t the states to pay attention to tonight if you want to get a sense of who will be celebrating Fat Tuesday with key victories.
On the Republican side the states to watch tonight are California, Missouri, Tennessee & Georgia.
California is the big prize with 170 delegates up for grabs and recent polls have shown a tightening race with Gov. Romney slightly ahead. Both Gov. Romney and Sen. McCain are projected to gain a large number of delegates, but a larger than projected margin of victory for either of these candidates could be huge in the march to the nomination.
Missouri has voted for the winner in every Presidential election since 1904, except in 1956, and has gained bellwether state status as a state that nearly mimics the economic, demographic and political makeup of the country. Today’s open primary in Missouri is a winner takes all format and all three Republican candidates are in a tight race for the state’s 58 delegates.
Tennessee has 52 delegates up for grabs tonight and also appears to be a deadlock between the three Republican candidates.
Georgia will be the early indicator of what might lay ahead tonight as its polls close at 7:00pm Eastern Time. In recent days Gov. Romney has closed the gap, but Sen. McCain continues to hold a slight lead. 69 delegates will be distributed based on a proportional basis tonight.
On the Democratic side the two big states to watch are California and Missouri. It looks like the races in Arizona, Colorado, Alabama and Connecticut could also be interesting to watch.
California offers up 370 delegates and is a state that Sen. Clinton has enjoyed a healthy lead until recently. Several of the polls in the past few days now show Sen. Obama with a slight lead. This will be the big one to watch on the Democratic side tonight.
Missouri will hand out her 72 delegates tonight only after the results of a close and hard fought contest are finalized. Sen. Clinton holds a slim lead, but recent polls show Sen. Obama gaining ground.
It is clear that no Republican will gain the 1,191 delegates needed to seal the nomination tonight. Nor will a Democrat gain the 2,025 delegates they need to claim victory. What is clear is that the momentum that can be gained tonight will be very important as the focus moves to next weeks contests in Maryland, DC and Virginia and further down the road on March 4 when Texas and Ohio get their chance to weigh in.