Live-blogging Super Tuesday

By on March 6, 2012

8:06 p.m. - To recap: Newt Gingrich wins in Georgia. Last week, Gingrich admitted he had to win his home state to stay in the race.

Mitt Romney wins in Massachusetts, Virginia and Vermont.

Rick Santorum wins in Oklahoma.

Exit polls shows Romney leading in Ohio, Santorum leading in Tennessee.

7:01 p.m. - CNN projects Gingrich wins Georgia.

6:54 p.m. - Ohio has voted for the eventual Republican nominee in each nomination cycle since the modern primary era began in 1972. It is one of 10 states to have done so; the others are Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Wisconsin. The most rebellious G.O.P. states have been Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Louisiana, Nevada and Wyoming, each of which voted against the G.O.P. nominee 3 times in primaries or caucuses.

6:37 p.m. - Ryan Lizza is watching the evangelical vote tonight:

The source of Romney’s problems is very clear from exit- and entrance-poll data collected in seven states that have voted so far (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan): evangelical Christians have refused to back his candidacy. Romney has lost evangelicals in every contest—and by an average of fifteen points. His best showing came in New Hampshire, where he lost the evangelical vote by nine points, and his worst came in Iowa, where he lost it by twenty-four points.

6:35 p.m. - A CNN exit poll shows that 71% of Tennessee primary voters call themselves white, born-again evangelicals. Read Santo voters.

5:45 p.m. - 3 counties to watch in Oklahoma: Cleveland Co (Norman); Oklahoma Co (OKC); Tulsa Co (Tulsa is critical to Santorum’s hopes).

5:43 p.m. - Early exit polls show Ohio GOP primary electorate more educated and higher-income than in 2008. Three out of ten make more than $100k. That has to be good for Romney.

5:25 p.m. - John Cassidy wonders if Romney will effectively end the nomination fight tonight:

A week ago, a Santorum loss in either Tennessee or Oklahoma seemed unthinkable. That such possibilities are even being discussed shows how far things have moved in Romney’s favor. It’s not just the polls, and it’s not that social conservatives have suddenly shed their suspicions of Romney. But there seems to be general feeling in the G.O.P., certainly in its upper reaches, that it’s time to call a halt to the circular firing squad.

3: 22 p.m. - Expect a close race in Tennessee:

The most surprising finish may be underway in Tennessee, where two automated, recorded voice polls conducted over the weekend both show support for Newt Gingrich climbing rapidly. … The WeAskAmerica poll showed all three frontrunners separated by a single percentage point, 30 percent for Romney and 29 percent each for Santorum and Gingrich. The PPP poll gave Santorum a slightly larger share of the vote (34 percent), followed by Romney (29 percent) and Gingrich (27 percent). Other Tennessee surveys conducted late last week had Gingrich significantly lower.

2:36 p.m. - John Avlon: “Super Tuesday totals could begin a shift from the Paul campaign’s caucus strategy to a delegate strategy. It’s the day when Paul could start to adjust the narrative just a bit by creeping ahead of Newt Gingrich in total delegates. Right now, Gingrich is one delegate ahead of Paul in the totals — 39 to 38. Mitt Romney’s organization, by comparison, has earned 182 delegates to date. While Rick Santorum and Gingrich have some overlapping support from conservative populists looking for a red-meat alternative to Romney, Paul has the libertarian side of the conservative coalition all to himself.”

10:45 a.m. - Is it over for Gingrich and Santorum? Josh Putnam answers “The bottom line here is that Romney has enough of a delegate advantage right now and especially coming out of today’s contests that it is very unlikely that anyone will catch him, much less catch him and get to 1144… And that is a problem in this race. Well, a problem for Gingrich and Santorum anyway. If all either of them can take to voters is an argument that all they can do is prevent Romney from getting to 1144, then neither has a winning strategy. That sort of strategy has a half life; one that will grow less effective as, in this case, Romney approaches 1144. Complicating this scenario even further for Gingrich and Santorum is the fact that if neither can get to 1144 or even close to it, neither is all that likely to be the candidate to emerge as the nominee at any — unlikely though it may be — contested convention.”

Monday – 10:24 p.m. - The White House announced President Obama will hold a news conference tomorrow afternoon.

National Journal: “Three senior administration officials just laughed when asked if they had decided to schedule a President Obama press conference for Tuesday to insert the White House into a busy news day that otherwise was guaranteed to be dominated by Republicans fighting for delegates in ten states… Regardless of the motivation, putting the president out for a long give-and-take that will be carried live on multiple television channels does serve the purpose of pushing the Republicans aside, if only for an hour.”

Monday – 10:22 p.m. - Nate Silver is downgrading Santorum’s chances:

[I]f [Santorum's] negative momentum manifests itself at the ballot booth Tuesday, he could … finish with fewer delegates than Mr. Gingrich on the evening, even though Mr. Gingrich is not expected to be competitive outside of the South.

Monday – 8:34 p.m. - Mark Blumenthal reads the tea leaves:

The polling suggests that each of the top three candidates is positioned to claim at least one victory on Tuesday. But if current trends continue, Romney is poised to win the most closely watched race, in Ohio, and he stands a chance of an upset in Tennessee and is best positioned for the most important prize of all: the lion’s share of convention delegates.

Monday – 1:47 p.m. - Domenico Montanaro describes how Super Tuesday became so pivotal. It dates back to the 1980s when Southern Democrats were upset with liberal presidential nominees and wanted to nationalize the message and lessen the impact of early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Monday – 1:46 p.m. - Romney advisers told reporters traveling with the candidate in Georgia and Tennessee yesterday that he’s unlikely to win the states. “I don’t know if we have any realistic expectation of beating Newt Gingrich in his home state,’ Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters traveling with the candidate today. ‘But we look to taking some delegates out. Same thing in Tennessee.’ Per NBC’s Garrett Haake: “In Georgia, Romney’s team has targeted downtown and suburban Atlanta districts, where Romney performed well four years ago, with one senior adviser comparing the demographics of suburban Atlanta to those of Oakland County — Romney’s home county in Michigan — which he won with fully fifty percent of the vote last week.”

Monday – 9:46 a.m. - Is the GOP primary almost over? John Podhoretz says “Maybe, just maybe, if Mitt Romney does well — by which I mean he wins or all but wins in Ohio and Tennessee, the two most important states to watch — we can get out of the political doldrums in which we have been trapped for months and months and months and… move on. This would come as a relief to me, and countless others like me, because, frankly, I can’t take much more of it.”

Monday – 9:38 a.m. - Nate Silver projects a Romney delegate win: “Romney could secure the delegate majority even if he wins as few as 4 or 5 states, based on an analysis of the current polling in each state and the complex series of rules that are used to govern delegate allocation,” he writes on his 538 blog. “Adding up the projections from the ten states, I show Mr. Romney getting 217 delegates, or almost exactly half of the total available. Mr. Santorum would get 107 delegates by these projections – about a quarter of the total – with Mr. Gingrich getting 61 and Mr. Paul 25.”

Monday – 9:37 a.m. - Jonathan Martin thinks Super Tuesday will reaffirm Romney’s inevitability: “That’s partly because the frontrunner is poised to win more of the 437 delegates at stake than his rivals, thanks to all-but-certain wins in Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont and Idaho,” he explains. “But Romney’s prospects will also get a boost Tuesday in states that he may not even win…Gingrich is on track to win Georgia. That means he’ll have a rationale for staying in the race and will continue to deprive Santorum of getting a one-on-one shot at Romney and cut into the conservative votes the former Pennsylvania senator needs to deny the establishment favorite the nomination.”

Monday – 9:35 a.m. - A [University of Minnesota] Smart Politics review of more than 40 polls leading up to the primaries and caucuses held in 11 states that have voted thus far in the 2012 election cycle finds that Rick Santorum’s vote total has eclipsed his polling numbers by an average of +4.7 points per state – more than any other candidate…Actual vote percentages for Santorum were +5.1 points higher than his polling average in the five caucus states with recent polling data and +4.4 points higher in the six primary states.

Monday – 9:24 a.m. - We Ask America poll of Tennessee: Romney 30%, Santorum 29%, Gingrich 29%, Paul 12%

Monday – 9:22 a.m. - Mason-Dixon poll of Georgia: Gingrich 38%, Romney 24%, Santorum 22%, Paul 3%.

Monday – 9:20 a.m. - Quinnipiac poll of Ohio: Romney 34%, Santorum 31%, Gingrich 15%, Paul at 12%.

Sunday – 1:05 p.m. - “A Romney win, following his victories last week in Michigan and Arizona, would cement his front-runner status and keep him on his path (no matter how rocky it’s been) toward capturing the GOP presidential nomination. But a Santorum win would signal that his close second-place finish in Romney’s native state of Michigan wasn’t a fluke, and it would likely ensure that this Republican nomination battle remains competitive — perhaps through April and maybe even June.”

Sunday – 12:36 p.m. -  A new Rasmussen survey in Tennessee finds Rick Santorum just ahead of Mitt Romney, 34% to 30%, with Newt Gingrich at 18% and Ron Paul at 8%.

A new American Research Group poll shows Santorum leading Romney, 35% to 31%, with Gingrich at 20% and Paul at 9%.

Sunday – 9:13 a.m. - Two days until Super Tuesday and the pivotal Ohio Republican presidential primary, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are running neck and neck in the Buckeye State, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll.

Sunday – 9:07 a.m. - Ed Kilgore will be watching the media on Super Tuesday:

…keep your eye on media coverage of Super Tuesday as either a mega-primary with many fronts (ten, to be exact), or as Ohio plus a bunch of other places. The latter interpretation could make Ohio matter more than the delegate count or the number of primaries and caucuses won. Romney, of course, could make the question moot by winning the Buckeye State as well. But then again, it would be perfectly in character for him to find another way to inform Ohioans he could buy and sell the lot of them with pocket change.

Sunday – 9:05 a.m. - John Cassidy wonders whether Super Tuesday could end Gingrich’s campaign:

As of today, there is no sign of Newt abandoning the race over the weekend. But if he gets crushed everywhere except Georgia on Tuesday, he will have to sit down with Callista and with Sheldon Adelson and reconsider his options. And one of those options, surely, must be calling it quits and swinging his support behind Santorum.

Sunday – 9:03 a.m. - Jonathan Bernstein explains what is at stake on Super Tuesday:

Romney has a large delegate lead, which will most likely be even larger after Tuesday. What will really matter is whether the party and the press agree that it’s essentially over. This will be the first night since South Carolina where, if things go well for Romney, we could reach that point. But if he has yet another setback, the wait will go on.

Sunday – 8:58 a.m. - Newt Gingrich, campaigning ahead of the Georgia primary on March 6, made clear he has to win the state he represented in Congress, CNN reports. Said Gingrich: “I have to win Georgia, I think, to be credible in the race.”

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