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TNR's Super Tuesday Primer

Your guide to the most important day of the race for the presidential nomination

Super Tuesday has arrived, and TNR is here to help you make sense of all the states that are holding primaries or caucuses today. With 52 percent of all pledged Democratic Party delegates and 41 percent of the total Republican Party delegates at stake, Super Tuesday's results will be crucial for both party's candidates in securing the presidential nomination. 

"Sick of the meaninglessness of its traditional June primary, Alabama was one of the first states to move its 2008 primary forward to February 5. Unfortunately, many of the larger states it was trying to leapfrog followed suit, and it finds itself in their shadows once again. This is unfortunate, since it is hosting two competitive races: Multiple candidates in both parties have good shots at victory ... "
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Alabama.

"Alaska is big, far, and sparsely populated. It is difficult to get to and even harder to navigate. For these reasons, no candidate has visited the state. Mitt Romney sent a son. Mike Huckabee dispatched his wife. Barack Obama is the only major candidate with a state headquarters. Not a single state poll has been taken, meaning it’s difficult to make more than a token guess at its outcome..."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Alaska.

"Arizona is one of America’s fastest growing states, increasing its delegate count and importance over the past 15 years. The state is one of the few to house more registered Republicans than Democrats, but because both parties’ primaries are closed, this shouldn’t make a difference on February 5. It may be McCain's home turf, but look for Romney to hammer him on immigration ... "
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Arizona.

"Beneath Arkansas’s red surface (it went for Bush in 2000 and 2004) lies a blue underbelly: Five of six congressional seats are held by Democrats, as are many state and local offices. That said, neither race is expected to be competitive, as each features a former resident of the Governor’s Mansion: former First Lady Hillary Clinton and former Governor Mike Huckabee. However, their opponents have a chance at picking off some delegates ... "
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Arkansas.

"With polls showing a close race on both sides, victory in California for putative underdogs Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could catapult them to frontrunner status--while a bigger-than-expected loss could doom their chances. In a mammoth state where New Hampshire-style retail politics will get you nowhere, momentum, endorsements, and media coverage (both paid and free) should make the difference..."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for California.

"Like a growing contingent of western and Midwestern states, Colorado is trending blue in local and federal representation, and barely chose George W. Bush over John Kerry in 2004. The purple state is Barack Obama’s purported bread and butter--so a strong showing, despite Clinton’s early advantage among Colorado Democrats, will bolster this campaign argument. The Centennial state--where the conservatives are conservative and Mormons are neighbors, not demons--may actually be Mitt Romney’s best chance to pick up delegates on Super Tuesday despite his northeastern provenance and Michigan birthplace..."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Colorado.

"Sandwiched between delegate-rich behemoths Massachusetts and New York, and with a primary that, historically, has been an afterthought, reliably Democratic Connecticut is still adjusting to its newfound influence on the race for the 2008 nomination. Full of Eastern liberals and moderate Republicans, and lacking large urban centers, this state has more diverse interests and geography than the homogeneous and notoriously well-off exurbs of New York City might suggest. This February 5, the state that has traditionally served only as an ATM for presidential hopefuls has become a legitimate battleground in a tight race for delegates to the national convention ... "
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Connecticut.

"While Delaware is starved for delegates, head-scratchingly small, and often maligned for not being a “real state,” its demographics are unique, and may be key to predicting Tuesday’s winners. Twenty-one percent of the state’s population is black, 7 percent Hispanic and over 20 percent lives in rural areas. The transitory culture (Senator Joe Biden has commuted to Washington regularly since the 1970s) and business-oriented industry may favor Eastern establishment figures Clinton and Romney, while the big black vote may push Obama over the finish line..."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Delaware.

"Georgia, the empire state of the South, is once again a Super Tuesday state and one of the biggest prizes at stake on Feb. 5. In 1992 it provided Bill Clinton's first win in a primary and backed him in the general election, but has since become solidly Republican at both the state and federal levels. It is the third-largest Southern state (behind Texas and Florida), and is widely considered a must-win state for Barack Obama. It could prove to be Mike Huckabee's strongest Super Tuesday state besides his native Arkansas. ... "
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Georgia.

"The home state of Larry Craig, Napoleon Dynamite, and the undefeated 2006 Boise State Broncos may not be the top prize at stake on February 5, but given that Iowa is one of the reddest in the country, it should provide a test of how well the Democratic candidates can compete in normally hostile territory ... "
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Idaho.

"There may be no state with deeper historical ties to the GOP than Kansas, which has not elected a Democratic senator since 1932. Yet, in recent years, the Sunflower State--partly out of disgust with the increasingly right-wing state GOP--has been trending slightly Democratic, electing and re-electing a Democratic governor and sending a new Democratic congresswoman to Washington in 2006. And on Tuesday, the state will likely break for Barack Obama, whose mother is from there..."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Kansas.

"Missouri is 'a relentlessly average state'--according to University of Missouri professor David Robertson--with an economy that mimics the national economy, and demographics similar to the nation as a whole. 'Missouri is a natural laboratory' of American politics, Robertson says--if it’s happening there, there’s a good bet it’s happening countrywide. The primaries also echo national trends: Obama and Clinton are tied, pitting the Democratic establishment against the party's 'mavericks' and Obama’s strong local organization (which benefits from volunteers out of nearby Illinois). McCain has a solid lead over Romney and Huckabee, who are splitting the conservative vote..."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Missouri.

"Setting up their February 5 caucus, Montana Republicans took one look at Wyoming’s closed, convoluted (pro-Romney) caucus system--which provides little opportunity for public participation--and decided it was too democratic. As Montana GOP director Chris Wilcox explained to me, the party streamlined the system so only precinct representatives and elected or appointed officials can caucus (thus eliminating the unwieldy process of voter involvement). If this libertarian state ran an open primary, McCain might have a chance. But he is 'significantly more centrist than the party that’s in power,' according Jeffrey Greene of the University of Montana. 'The Republican Party of Montana is a relatively conservative organization--more like some organizations in the deep South.' Montana is thus likely an airtight win for Romney."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Montana.

New Jersey
"Sandwiched between New York City and Philadelphia, and lacking a state-wide television news sources, the Garden State is usually ignored by party candidates who rather spend their time and money in the surrounding bigger markets. But as a blue state run by a slick and powerful Democrat machine, New Jersey represents the strength and organization of the Clinton campaign and what battles lay ahead for Obama. On the Republican side, New Jersey--along with neighboring New York--will most likely go to McCain, who was even out-polling Giuliani prior to the former-mayor’s flop in Florida ... "
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for New Jersey.

New Mexico
"Only the Democrats are holding their New Mexico caucus (AKA, primary--see below) on Super Tuesday, as the New Mexico Republicans must wait till June 3 to vote. There have not been any public polls in New Mexico for “months and months,” says University of New Mexico professor F. Chris Garcia, and so it’s going to be a tough one to call..." 
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for New Mexico.

New York
"A few months ago, New York was all but a lock for its two hometown candidates--Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton. But Giuliani didn’t even make it to Super Tuesday, and Clinton, while still holding on to a wide lead over Obama, is feeling the affects of a national swell of support for her opponent..."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for New York.

"Oklahoma, which hasn’t gone for a Democrat in a general election since 1968, hasn’t received much attention from the Democratic contenders. This is one of only two states where Obama ran no television adds (Illinois is the other), and Clinton has made only cursory advances. On the Republican side, this solidly evangelical state was courted by Huckabee, but seems slated to go for McCain. Romney's Mormonism is a huge liability in the Sooner State, where he lags far behind in the polls..." 
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Oklahoma.

"As the 'buckle of the Bible Belt,' Tennessee is traditionally conservative and tends towards the Republicans, going for Bush in 2000 and 2004. Though Huckabee is relying on its strong evangelical community, the state has a history of being more economically and racially liberal than other southern states. Hillary is also hoping that, with its relatively small black population, Tennessee can be one of the few southern states she can win. Having voted for the winner in the last 11 general presidential elections, Tennessee is considered a bellwether state ... "
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Tennessee.

"Because Utah is heavily Republican, Democrats don’t usually spend a lot of time campaigning here, even in the primaries. This year, however, the Democrats are waging an aggressive campaign: Barack visited the state last summer and Michelle Obama recently campaigned here, while Clinton sent Chelsea to the Beehive State last week. It’s the Republicans who have pulled back from campaigning for the primary, by and large deciding it isn’t worthwhile to take on Romney here. His popularity among Mormons, success as the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee Chairman in 2002, and stance on immigration have given him nearly insurmountable leads in the polls..."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Utah.

West Virginia
"West Virginia may not be the most eagerly anticipated Super Tuesday state, but it promises to keep things interesting with one of the earliest and least predictable votes. The new GOP convention/primary format comes with a dizzying number of rules and makes it difficult to tell who is actually in the lead. Romney seems to have the most support, but 48 percent of delegates remain undecided, so the state is “still up for grabs” among the candidates, says Lynn Staton, associate chairman of the state Republican Party..."
Click here for your complete Super Tuesday rundown for Tennessee.

By TNR staff