Saturday, March 3, 2012

Super Tuesday Expected to be Inconclusive: Republican Presidential Race May Go to the Wire

Ten states across the United States, nine in Continental United States along with Alaska, are set to hold the Republican Party presidential primaries on Super Tuesday 2012, which falls on March 6. However, the contest may not end soon as the four frontrunners are still well in the contest and the outcome of Super Tuesday is expected to be inconclusive.

Mitt Romney is arguably stronger in the three North Eastern states including his home state Massachusetts. In Virginia and Vermont also he may prevail and may take all 49 delegates in the former as only he and Ron Paul are in the contest. Romney’s victories in Arizona, Michigan and Wyoming has returned the momentum to his direction after the disasters of early February when he was defeated by Rick Santorum in three states, including the shocking defeat at Colorado.

Santorum is hopeful that he would be able to prevail in the conservative heartlands of Tennessee and Oklahoma. He is also expected to come on top in Ohio, a neighbor of his home state Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, the other conservative in the contest, Newt Gingrich, is also expected to do well in his home state of Georgia.

Although Santorum seemed to have taken up the conservative mantle from Gingrich after the victories of early February, the Georgian is, with no doubt, still in the contest. A setback at his home turf may signal the end of the road for Gingrich. But, for the time being, it appears highly unlikely.

The contests in the three states of Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota will be interesting to follow as the next few days unfold. All four aspirants have spent time campaigning in the latter two. In contrast, Alaska has been the only state where no candidate has visited during the campaign in the primaries up to date. With a sizable Mormon population, Romney has a slight edge over his opponents in Idaho.

Mitt Romney came on top in the Alaska and North Dakota caucuses four years ago, albeit with just over 35% of the votes in either of them. Also, Ron Paul got around one fifth of votes in both state caucuses. By the time the contest in Idaho came up in 2008, John McCain had already won the race for presidential candidacy and only he and Ron Paul were in the ballot. While the race in 2008 can mean nothing in 2012 as Romney's defeat in Colorado showed, it shows that the race will be too close to call in both North Dakota and Alaska once again.

During the primaries of this election campaign, Romney’s front runner status has been challenged on several occasions by some shocking setbacks, first in South Carolina, courtesy of Gingrich and then in Colorado, courtesy of Santorum. Romney has not benefitted from an unexpected victory till now. Perhaps, in his wildest of dreams, he may be hoping that Gingrich and Santorum will split the conservative vote somewhere and deliver him a surprise victory.

However, with none of the ten states being “winner takes it all” states in theory and with four contestants in the ballot in many of them, the Republican presidential primary race will have a long way to go whatever the outcome of Super Tuesday may be.

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