McCain leads by eight in the new California Field Poll, up 32-24-13-10 over Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul. A new poll out in Illinois has McCain romping in the Land of Lincoln, up 43-20-15-4.
McCain also leads in all of the McClatchy/Mason-Dixon bellwethers: "Republican John McCain leads in all four corners of the country heading into a rush of primaries on Tuesday," per McClatchy's Thomma.
"With many Republican contests winner-take-all delegate bonanzas, the surveys suggest that McCain could emerge from Tuesday's vote with a commanding lead for the Republican nomination."
The Straight Talk Express is acting like it's on the move: "McCain said Saturday that he expects to be the nominee of his party as a cascade of Republican endorsements added to the sense that he is on the verge of knocking out former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Super Tuesday," Jill Zuckman, John McCormick, and Jason George write in the Chicago Tribune.
"McCain assumed a nominee's mantle as he crossed the South on Saturday, touting his high-profile endorsements and talking about how he will unify the Republican Party after Tuesday's de facto national primary."
Contrast that with this from Romney, who took time off the trail Saturday to attend the Utah funeral of Gordon Hinckley, the president of the Mormon Church. Per ABC's Matt Stuart, "Mitt Romney suggested Saturday that he might reduce his staff after Super Tuesday, saying he has 'a much larger staff' than may be required 'as you go on to these subsequent primaries.'
The former Massachusetts governor soon backtracked, insisting, 'We don't have any plans to change our staff size.' "
Romney is confident the race won't end on Tuesday: "Looking at the numbers of delegates and the numbers of states, I don't think somebody is going to walk away with the needed number, so I think this thing goes on well beyond Tuesday," he told reporters, per The New York Times' Michael Luo.
Saturday was a good day for Romney: He locked down Maine's 18 convention delegates, with a lopsided victory in the state's GOP caucuses that was helped by his Boston-based organization.
"Romney's win came just three days before Super Tuesday, when 24 states will hold caucuses or primaries," Kelley Bouchard writes in the Maine Sunday Telegram. Said Mark Ellis, chairman of the Maine Republican Party: "It could help him restore some of the momentum he had early on."
Ground-level organization has its limits in nationwide contests like we're preparing for on Tuesday. The campaign is quickly turning into an air war that would leave Tom and Eli with sore arms: Obama has run ads in 21 of the 22 states with Democratic primaries or caucuses Feb. 5; Clinton has advertised in 16 of them, per The New York Times' Adam Nagourney.
"After weeks in which the race in both parties has featured flashes of intense personal animosity, the candidates all seem to have decided that they need to introduce and define themselves for a broad swath of the country in positive terms, especially since the compressed calendar gives them no time for a second chance," Nagourney writes.