Inside and outside of Oakland

Super Tuesday: A make or break day for the GOP?

  Michigan Republicans are back in spectator mode now that Michigan's Feb. 28 presidential primary is over.
  But they'll be watching Tuesday when GOP voters in 10 states nominate a candidate to run against President Barack Obama this year in primaries and caucuses called Super Tuesday.
  It's called Super Tuesday because there's so many states holding their nominating contests at once: Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.
  Candidates still in the race are Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
  Of the 10 states, neighboring Ohio is the one to watch, local Republicans say.

  "I think Newt takes Georgia, Romney takes Massachusetts and everything else is up for grabs," says Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, a Romney supporter.
  "I think Romney will do fine on the East Coast," Patterson said. "He'll take Massachusetts, he'll get Vermont. I think Newt's strength, if he has any at all and I believe he does, will be down south.
  "It's all going to come down to one state: Ohio," Patterson said. "It's going to come down to a rerun of Michigan all over again."
  Romney won a narrow victory in Michigan's Feb. 28 primary last week, picking up 16 of the state's 30 delegates, in a count that Santorum, who picked up 14, disputes.
  Latest polls have Romney and Santorum neck-and-neck in Ohio.
  Republicans have been slugging it out for the nomination across the country in the race to secure 1,144 delegates and the GOP presidential nomination.
  Even after primaries or caucuses in 13 states, Romney leads with just 118 delegates, according to the Republican National Committee, followed by Gingrich with 29, Santorum with 17, and Paul with 8.
  The count is low because the outcomes in seven of the 13 states so far didn't bind delegates to the winners of the popular vote in those states' primaries or caucuses. Fully 211 delegates in those states remain "unbound" to any candidate.
  There are 437 total delegates up for grabs across the 10 Super Tuesday states. Only North Dakota doesn't bind any delegates to the winner. But there are other unbound delegates in the other states too, lowering the pot of available delegates to 391 for the day.
  Even so, that's the largest amount of delegates up for grabs so far on any given day.
  "If Romney can pull off Ohio, that should pretty much seal the fate of the primary contests," says Patterson. "If he loses and the delegates go elsewhere, we're going to continue this internecine blood-letting."
  Republican nominating contests continue to the end of June, but the candidates are hoping to secure enough delegates and the nomination before then.
  Patterson said the drawn out caucus and primary schedule, and the combativeness of Republican candidates, tends to help Obama in the general election that will come after the selection of a Republican nominee.
  "He's licking his chops at what we're doing to ourselves," Patterson said.

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