By Randy Evans
Republican National Convention in August in Tampa, Florida. In order to win the Republican Nomination, a Presidential candidate must have 1,144 delegates. To put this in perspective, only 112 delegates (less than 10%) have been won. In fact, the candidate with the most delegates (former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney) has only 71 delegates.
This seems rather amazing given all of the media attention so far. From the Iowa caucuses to the Florida primary seems like an eternity for most
voters, yet there are still 46 more states (plus American territories)
to go. Already, there have been more swings than the crazy boat ride at
White Water park. Just when the media thinks things are sewn up, voters
send the signal that they are not done yet.
Between the Florida Primary (held on January 31, 2012) and Super
Tuesday, there will be five caucuses - Nevada (28 delegates), Maine (24
delegates), Colorado (36 delegates), Minnesota (40 delegates) and
Washington (43 delegates) - and two primaries, Arizona (29 delegates)
and Michigan (30 delegates). The five caucuses (before being
apportioned) decide just 171 delegates. The primaries decide just 59.
The total is 230 delegates - if all the contests were winner-take all.
With the single exception of Arizona, they are not. Instead, states
apportion between the winner and the other candidates receiving votes.
For example, if Governor Romney wins all of the caucuses in the same
margins as he did in 2008 (and they were healthy margins), he would only
have 135 delegates.
Basically, none of the candidates will have much more than about 200
delegates coming into Super Tuesday - less than 20% of the delegates
needed to win the nomination with 39 states plus territories to go.
Then comes March 6, 2012 - Super Tuesday - when eleven states decide.
Caucuses will be held in Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota. Combined,
those states pick 87 delegates. To put that number in context, Georgia
alone picks 76 delegates.
The other big GOP delegate prizes on Super Tuesday are Ohio (with 66
delegates); Tennessee (58 delegates); Virginia (49 delegates); Oklahoma
(43 delegates); Massachusetts (41 delegates); Vermont (17 delegates);
and Wyoming (29 delegates). In all, on Super Tuesday, 542 delegates are
at play - almost 5 times the number selected to date.
By the time Super Tuesday is over, 23 states will have held either
caucuses or primaries. To say that Super Tuesday will have a major
impact, if not decide the GOP nomination, would be a gross
There are a few possibilities for Super Tuesday. One possibility is
that a single candidate wins all of the Super Tuesday states - unlikely.
The more likely scenario is that the states split. If that happens, the
main focus will be on Ohio, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and GEORGIA. A sweep
of these four states would be big. They represent 243 delegates -
likely more than any one candidate will have heading into Super Tuesday.
Even then, it is a long way from locking down the nomination.
Just four days after Super Tuesday, on March 10, 2012, there are
caucuses in Guam (9 delegates), Kansas (40 delegates) and the Virgin
Islands (9 delegates).
Then, on March 13, 2012, there are more southern primaries in Alabama
(50 delegates) and Mississippi (40 delegates) and caucuses in Hawaii (20
delegates) and American Samoa (9 delegates).
Then the pace really picks up. During the balance of March, there are 3
primaries. In April, there are 9 with the biggest prize being Texas
with a whopping 155 delegates. In all, 484 delegates are selected in
May has 7 primaries with the biggest prize being California with another
whopping number - 172 delegates. In all, 276 delegates get picked in
The last GOP primary is on June 26, 2012 in Utah.
In 2008, the Democratic nomination contest between Senator Barack Obama
and Senator Hillary Clinton extended into June. It ended up being
'Super delegates' that put Senator Obama over the top. (Super delegates
are delegates by status, like party chairs, not election.)
Senator Clinton did not formally end her bid for the Democratic
nomination until June 7, 2008 - four days after winning the South Dakota
It is always possible that the Republicans might not pick their nominee
until they reach the Convention. Insiders call this a 'brokered
convention.' Basically, there are around 412 Super delegates (which
means they could put a candidate over the top or decide to be kingmakers
at the Convention). While cable news producers dream of a 'brokered
convention,' it is very unlikely. Instead, look for Georgia and the
other Super Tuesday states to set the stage for a GOP nominee. Now
where did that prediction appear first?