What to Watch in Today’s Primaries

May 22, 2012 6:00am

Arkansas and Kentucky hold their state and presidential primaries today. A total of 81 delegates are at stake in the GOP presidential primary, which will undoubtedly bring Mitt Romney much closer to, although still slightly short of, the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination. Romney currently has 992 delegates, ABC News projects.

Mathematically speaking, Romney will not be able to hit the 1,144 mark today. That is expected to happen next week, when Texas holds its primary May 29. The races to watch today will be the Democratic presidential primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky

In Arkansas, John Wolfe, an attorney from Tennessee, is on the ballot against President Obama. Obama’s approval ratings are low in Arkansas, and Wolfe could easily get a sizable percentage of the vote, potentially even pull off a victory (seems less likely.) Recent polling showed Wolfe close to Obama in the state.

Arkansas is not a state that anyone expects Obama to carry in November. ABC News rates the state as solidly Republican. Nevertheless, losing to or just narrowly defeating a largely unknown candidate in his party’s primary would be embarrassing for the Obama campaign, particularly after federal inmate Keith Judd received 40 percent of the vote in West Virginia’s primary earlier this month.

There is no named opponent on the Democratic primary ballot in Kentucky other than Obama, but voters will have the option of checking off “uncommitted.” Kentucky is another state in which Obama has low approval ratings, and where no one expects him to win in the general election. Still, a poor showing to an “uncommitted” box in an intra-party contest will hardly be uplifting for Obama.

SHOWS:
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