The big day has arrived. Ten states hold their voting contests today in the mega-primary day known as "super Tuesday." Four-hundred and thirty-seven delegates are at stake tonight. The candidate who carries the bulk of states will gain a solid lead in delegates, not to mention some serious momentum to carry them through the rest of the month.
Each state presents its own set of challenges for the four remaining GOP candidates, but there are also places that play to each individual candidates strengths. The complete guide to how each state works, what's at stake, and what to watch is outlined below.
Alaska is one of the three Super Tuesday states holding a caucus. Not surprisingly due to its geography, Alaska will be the holdout of Super Tuesday, the polls will close at midnight, and it's possible results will not come in until well into the day on Wednesday. The state offers 27 delegates, doled out proportionally. Mitt Romney won Alaska's caucus in 2008 with 44 percent of the vote.
Georgia is the biggest delegate prize of Super Tuesday; 76 delegates will be awarded on a proportional basis in this state. Newt Gingrich is favored to win here; after all, he represented the state in Congress for two decades. However, that hasn't stopped the other candidates from making a play for the Peach state. Mitt Romney's super PAC, Restore Our Future, has spent roughly $1.4 million on ad buys in Georgia, running ads opposing Gingrich. Polling shows Gingrich with a comfortable lead in the state going into Tuesday's contest.
Idaho is the second state holding a caucus on Super Tuesday. There are 32 delegates at stake. The state has a large Mormon population and so far in this primary season (as in 2008) that has behooved Romney. However, Ron Paul's ability to draw out supporters in a caucus format cannot be underestimated. He performed strongly here in 2008, with 24 percent of the vote (losing to John McCain, who took 70 percent.)
Massachusetts may not exactly be the kind of conservative power boost that the candidates are looking for at this stage in the primary, but it offers 41 delegates total (awarded proportionally, as is the case with all of super Tuesday's states) and in a close race, a win is a win. Mitt Romney is expected to carry the state he represented as governor, and he will spend Tuesday night at his home in Boston. In 2008, Romney carried his state with a majority of the vote with 51 percent.
North Dakota is the third and final Super Tuesday state holding a caucus. There are 28 delegates at stake. Mitt Romney won this state in 2008 by receiving 36 percent of the vote. Ron Paul had a strong showing here in 2008 as well. He took 21 percent of the vote. Paul has been campaigning hard for North Dakota, even going so far as to chose to spend his time on Tuesday night in the state. Tuesday will be his third visit to this state.
Georgia may have the biggest delegate prize, but Ohio is considered the real gem in the Super Tuesday crown. There are 66 delegates in Ohio and the candidate who carries the Buckeye state will have the ability to tout their victory in a key general election swing state.