There are ten states holding a primary election or caucus on Super Tuesday2012. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is slated to take about four of them, but has faced increasing competition from previous underdog former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Santorum surprised the Romney camp Feb. 7 when he swept three states - Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado.
While Romney has won the most elections so far, there is still a large number of Republicans he has failed to win over. Some GOP members think he's too liberal to represent the party in Washington.
With some surprise wins for Santorum already this year, tomorrow's Super Tuesday battle could further rattle Mitt Romney's lead.
As we enter one of the most closely watched days in Election 2012, here's what you need to know.
Super Tuesday 2012
Which states are key? There are 437 delegates in the Super Tuesday states, more than double the amount that already voted. Only 422 technically are up for grabs tomorrow, since the rest are superdelegates and unbound to the results. That's still more than one-third of the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch a nomination.
Here's how they break down per Super Tuesday state:
Georgia - 76
Idaho - 32
Massachusetts - 41
North Dakota - 28
Ohio - 66
Oklahoma - 43
Tennessee - 58
Vermont - 17
Virginia - 49
So far, Romney leads with 203 delegates, according to The Associated Press. Santorum is second with 92; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has 33; and Rep. Ron Paul, 25. No Super Tuesday states are "winner take all," so even though Romney is considered the frontrunner, his rivals can scoop up delegates without claiming a state victory.
Romney has an advantage in Massachusetts since he was governor there, and Vermont will likely go his way, too. Many of the eight remainders don't yet have a clear winner.
The importance of Ohio: Fun Super Tuesday fact: No delegate has ever become president without winning Ohio in the general election. Whoever takes it tomorrow should gain confidence from the Ohioan vote.
Santorum currently leads in Ohio polls going into Super Tuesday, but only slightly. The Buckeye State neighbors his native Pennsylvania. An Ohio victory would be huge; former White House adviser Karl Rove wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal that Santorum's presidential run "will realistically be at an end if he loses the Buckeye State."
Santorum has been trying to appeal to the lower-income and religious voters, while Romney has gone after a higher income bracket. [Click here to read more about Romney's rich "friends" in our Election 2012 coverage.]
With Romney close behind, Ohio's contest will be the most heated.
What about Gingrich and Paul? With all the talk over a Romney-Santorum Ohio showdown, Gingrich and Paul have fallen off the radar a bit.
Gingrich hopes to win his home state of Georgia. He needs a victory to prove he has enough support to say in the presidential race. Even with his connections Gingrich isn't guaranteed a Georgian win - Romney and Santorum have invested a lot to win those voters - but Gingrich is confident he'll clinch a victory.
"It's very fluid and I think beginning to really move in our direction," Gingrich said about the election on CNBC. "I think as things sink in you'll see me once again coming back and getting ahead. A lot of this is just momentum."
Paul has yet to win a state. He's spent a lot of time in Idaho, where he placed second during the 2008 primary. He's also invested in the other caucus states, North Dakota and Alaska, which along with Idaho offer 84 delegates. Paul might again go without a state win but will likely pick up some numbers.
What happened in Virginia? Santorum and Gingrich won't be on the ballot in Virginia, which is likely to go to Romney. They failed to deliver 10,000 valid voter signatures in time to qualify for the ballot. Both have sued the state.
That leaves Virginia as a Romney-Paul contest, with Romney likely to take it.
What to watch after Super Tuesday are the caucuses and primaries in Kansas, Wyoming, Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois and Louisiana, which will round out the busiest month so far for Election 2012.
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