Voting days are always interesting, in a hurry up and wait sort of way. There is such a flurry of activity in the days leading up and then on the actual day it's like that calm before the storm.
The candidates are not working voters at large rallies or delivering speeches or holding town halls. Election days are for satellite TV and radio interviews, conference calls and briefings with strategists to lay out expectations (and spin) before the first numbers come out.
The conventional wisdom (backed up by delegate math) is that the nominees will not be set by the time the morning papers hits newsstands on Wednesday. The Democratic race is too tight for a candidate to emerge as the nominee and there are not enough delegates on the Republican side for one candidate to walk away with the title.
Of course on both sides, momentum is up for grabs and Mitt Romney seems to have lost the first battle for that in West Virginia.
Romney's campaign had been hoping for the early win to build momentum leading into the later contests today, report ABC News' Teddy Davis and Matt Stuart.
Romney actually topped the initial vote, finishing with 41%, followed by Huckabee with 33 percent, McCain with 16 percent, and Ron Paul with 10 percent. However, because no candidate got a majority, the West Virginia rules dictate that the top three finishers move on to a second round of voting.
At that point, Huckabee came out on top with 52 percent, followed by Romney with 47 percent and McCain with just one percent. The move gave Huckabee the first 18 delegates of the very long day, but Romney's campaign manager Beth Myers released a statement soon after allegding that McCain "cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney's campaign."
As the CEO of the West Virginia Republican Presidential Convention told ABC News in response to Romney's statement, "Welcome to politics."
ABC News' Jake Tapper reports that the Huckabee campaign denies any deal and has this from Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman:
"I'm sorry, I thought the Romney campaign sent out something (on Monday) saying there's no whining in politics," said Saltsman. "He got beat -- period. Once again showing that Gov. Romney's millions of dollars can't buy the election."
On the other side of the race, Clinton chief strategist Mark Penn told reporters on a conference call today that it is possible that Barack Obama will finish the day having won more delegates than Hillary Clinton but the campaign is confident they will maintain an overall delegate lead.
Beyond just expectations spin, Team Clinton showed they really do think this nomination fight carries on for several weeks by announcing that they have accepted invitations to participate in four debates: "This Week" on ABC this Sunday, Fox News debate in DC on Monday and two other debates in Ohio (Feb. 27) and Texas (Feb. 28)
ABC News will broadcast at least five hours of live primetime coverage of the Super Tuesday Presidential Primaries and Caucuses. Coverage will begin on Tuesday, February 5th at 8:00 p.m., ET and continue through at least1:00 a.m., ET to report results across all time zones including delegate-rich California where polls close at 11:00 p.m., ET.
Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos will anchor "Showdown: Coast to Coast" from ABC News headquarters in New York.
ABC News' Rick Klein will be live blogging the results and twists and turns all night:
Another sign of just how up in the air things are right now – no candidate has put out a public schedule for Wednesday.
SUPER TUESDAY SCHEDULE:
7 pm ET – POLL CLOSINGS:
- Georgia primary (Dems/GOP)
8 pm ET – POLL CLOSINGS:
- Alabama primary (Dems/GOP)
- Connecticut primary (Dems/GOP)
- Delaware primary (Dems/GOP)
- Illinois primary (Dems/GOP)
- Kansas caucuses (Dems)
- Massachusetts primary (Dems/GOP)
- Missouri primary (Dems/GOP)
- New Jersey primary (Dems/GOP)
- Oklahoma primary (Dems/GOP)
- Tennessee primary (Dems/GOP)
8:30 pm ET – POLL CLOSINGS:
- Arkansas primary (Dems/GOP)
9 pm ET – POLL CLOSINGS:
- Colorado caucuses (Dems/GOP)
- Minnesota caucuses (Dems/GOP)
- New Mexico primary (Dems)
- New York primary (Dems/GOP)
- North Dakota caucuses (Dems/GOP)
10 pm ET – POLL CLOSINGS:
- Arizona primary (Dems/GOP)
- Utah primary (Dems/GOP)
11 pm ET – POLL CLOSINGS:
- California primary (Dems/GOP)
- Idaho caucuses (Dems)
12 am ET – POLL CLOSINGS:
- Alaska caucus (Dems)
- Montana caucus (GOP)
POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM
ABC News' Jake Tapper reports: Hucka-Back from the Dead: Former Arkansas Governor Wins West Virginia, First of 21 GOP Super Tuesday Contests LINK
ABC News' Claire Shipman, Rick Klein, Karen Travers, Teddy Davis and Tahman Bradley Report: Delegate Math 101 LINK
ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Ron Paul '08: A Revolution Thwarted? LINK
ABC News' Matthew Dowd Reports: Watching the Super Tuesday Results LINK
ABC News' Marcus Baram Reports: Oprah Fixes Voting Glitch; Scattered Problems with Machines LINK
ABC News' Jennifer Parker Reports: Candidates Scramble for Super Tuesday Votes LINK
ABC News' Robin Sproul Reports: How Do Exit Polls Work? Find Out Here LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper, Susan Rucci and Cindy Smith Report: A House Divided: Democratic Families Split on Choices LINK
ABC News' Ann Compton and Eloise Harper Report: Hillary and Bill Clinton Cast Their Super Tuesday Votes in New York LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Gun Control Advocates Call Clinton a Hypocrite LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: He Likes Clinton, She Likes Obama LINK
ABC News' Phillip Bloch Reports: Super Style: Barack vs. Hillary LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Bob Dole Sure Doesn't Want a Fight about Bob Dole! LINK
ABC News' Bret Hovell and Teddy Davis Report: Romney: McCain Is Another Bob Dole LINK
ABC News' Jacqueline Klingebiel and Mike Elmore Report: First Come, First Serve LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: A Chicken Salad Sandwich LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper Reports: Hillary: Obama = Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery LINK
POLITICAL VIDEOS AT ABCNEWS.COM
Nicholson Makes Clinton Robo Call Jack Nicholson records call for Sen. Clinton on Super Tuesday.
George and Wife Ali Yuck Up '08 George Stephanopoulos and his wife Ali Wentworth appear together on 'The View.'
Hasselbeck: They Gave Me a Democratic Ballot! Elisabeth Hasselbeck discusses her Super Tuesday experience.
Hillary Casts Her Vote President Clinton and Sen. Clinton vote in Chappaqua, N.Y. on Super Tuesday.
It's the Final Countdown Candidates stay on the campaign trails in the final hours before the polls open.
Oprah to the Rescue: Helps Young Voter Chicago precinct turns voter away, but Oprah steps into help.
Families Divided by Politics Households butt heads on their choice for president in the race for '08.
Candidates on the Comedy Circuit Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton go for laughs on late-night TV.
Romney's Conservative Pitch Can the GOP underdog convince voters that he is the only true conservative?
Pre-Primary Push From Obama The Illinois senator is determined to break out from his Democratic opponent.
Clinton's Final Pitch How will the senator from New York set herself apart from the competition?
The Bottom Line on the Super Primary George Stephanopoulos analyzes the final moments heading into Super Tuesday.
'The Note' Rewinds the Week's Best Moments ABC News' Senior Political Reporter Rick Klein on the weekly political roundup.
Clinton, Obama Dueling For Delegates Democrat candidates are locked in a statistical tie on Super Tuesday eve.
Super Tuesday Probables George Stephanopoulos reports on what and who to watch this Super Tuesday.
Crash Course on Politics Get all you need to know about the presidential race so far in three minutes.