Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Super Tuesday liveblog

11:08 - CNN calls North Dakota for Santorum with Romney running third. This was thought to be a Romney vs. Paul contest. If Santorum also wins Ohio (where he's been leading for sometime now) this may be a very, very good night for him. However, if Newt stays in and does well enough to win or split the vote next week in Alabama and Mississippi, then it could quickly mute Sanoturm's momentum.

10:24 - Santorum giving the economic populist, anti-debt message he gave the night he won the Iowa caucuses. If he had been giving this speech in between he probably would have won Michigan and cleaned up tonight.

10:01 - Twenty minutes after other networks, CNN calls Oklahoma for Santorum as an excuse to break away from rambling Newt speech.

9:12 - Don't think I've seen this before. Santorum wins independents by larger margin than Republicans in Tennessee. Over Romney 35-30 among GOP, 35-24 among independents.

9:01 - Mitt swamps competition with 70% in home state Mass according to exit polls. Santorum leads fairly decisively in Oklahoma and Tennessee exit polls. Battle for second between Newt and Mitt in Tenn, while Mitt looks safe for second in Oklahoma.

8:38 - To me, this stat explains the whole Republican primary race. In Ohio Mitt Romney won the 19% of the electorate who are working women by a convincing 45-33; Santorum won all other demographics combined 39-38.

8:32 - Ohio exit polls show Mitt ahead of Rick 40-36, Newt waaaay back tied with Paul at 12-11. If this holds bad night for both Rick and Newt.

8:16 - Early real results from Virginia: Romney 59, Paul 41.

8 p.m. - CNN calls Georgia due to Newt leading by 21 points in exit poll. Not yet ready to call Virginia for Romney. Romney and Paul are the only people on the ballot in Virginia. Does this mean Paul is in the 40s / has held Mitt to less than 20? That was one of my nine things to watch and could/should create a lot of chatter about dissatisfaction with Mitt.

7:31 p.m. Atlantic - Higher evangelical turnout in OH, TN, etc good sign for Santorum who late polls showed was in a lot of trouble?

Before we get started, here are my predictions that I posted on Saturday after the Washington caucus results came in:

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Super Tuesday preview

With Mitt Romney's easy win in Washington state, the narrative of the race is framing quite well for him heading into Super Tuesday. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in the camp of many others in suggesting that Romney was in real trouble.

Here are 9 things to watch on Tuesday:

Mitt's margin in Virginia

Romney will almost certainly win Virginia in his two-man race against Ron Paul. The question is the margin and how it is perceived. The optics of Ron Paul holding Romney to 59-41 are much worse than 61-39. A "close" race here would play into the narrative that Romney can't seal the deal, even when the race is winnowed to he and a "fringe" candidate.

Can Newt win outside Georgia?

Recent polls show Newt Gingrich winning by a large margin in his home state of Georgia. But he won't likely get much momentum or credit for doing it because of his own framing of home state wins being a given. He's also focused on Tennessee where a win could change the narrative around his campaign and set him up for a come back in Kansas, Mississippi and Alabama that vote the following week. If he can only win in his home state, then it is hard to see how his campaign continues.

Can Mitt win in the south?

Romney is favoured in Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia and Idaho. Though he won in Florida, he hasn't won in the more traditional conservative south in either 2008 or 2012. Despite momentum coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire, he was crushed in South Carolina. Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma all vote on Super Tuesday. Wins in any of these states would end the narrative that Mitt can't win the base and put him well on the path to sealing the deal.

Who places second in Oklahoma?

Rick Santorum is heavily favoured according to polls in this state. If Newt places second here, it is a sign of life for his campaign. If Romney does, it is a sign of strength outside of his comfort zone.

Who places second in Georgia?

Newt is heavily favoured to win Georgia. Romney is making a last minute campaign stop here in the hopes that he can place second and therefore show strength in the south.

Will Paul win a state?

Paul has a chance at winning North Dakota and/or Alaska and an outside chance in Idaho (where Romney is favoured). We've heard this before in Maine and Washington, but Ron Paul could rack up his first statewide win on Tuesday.

Who wins the night?

There are 10 contests. Romney is favoured in 4, Newt and Santorum in 1 each. Four others are toss ups. It is highly unlikely that any candidate could sweep those four remaining states (Alaska, North Dakota, Ohio and Tennessee) which means Romney will win or tie in number of states won - the question is can he take one of North Dakota and Alaska, and Ohio and win a majority?

Do either Gingrich or Santorum drop out?

If Gingrich wins Georgia just narrowly and doesn't come close anywhere else, it is hard to see how he can continue. If Santorum doesn't win Ohio, I'd say he is also in trouble, unless he takes both Oklahoma and Tennessee, and places a strong second in Ohio and Georgia which seems unlikely. However, would either of them drop out and endorse the other in a last ditch effort to stop Romney? This also seems unlikely.

Who wins Ohio?

Though Georgia has the most delegates at stake, Ohio is the focus because it is more competitive. (Though I'm surprised there isn't more attention for Tennessee which has almost as many delegates as well - these states have 76, 66 and 58 respectively.) The media focus will be almost exclusively on this race. If Santorum wins, he'll again be portrayed as the man who might beat Romney, if he loses it is hard to see how he regains momentum. If Romney wins and Gingrich finishes respectfully in addition to winning Georgia and Tennessee, it could set the stage for a major rebound.