On Tuesday, the Republican nominating process moves into high gear with contests in 10 states. Mitt Romney, who has pulled off five straight wins, has the momentum. That momentum is reflected in the latest Gallup tracking poll, which puts Romney up by 16 points over Rick Santorum. Here are my predictions for your Super Tuesday office pool.
Romney’s sure wins
Massachusetts (41 delegates): Romney was the Bay State’s governor and remains very popular there. Polls show Romney leading by 20 points. He will win the primary handily.
Vermont (17 delegates): Like its neighbors, New Hampshire and Maine, the Green Mountain State will reward fellow New Englander Romney with a solid win in its primary.
Idaho (32 delegates): The West has proven to be an electoral fortress for Romney. My sources in the Gem State tell me that Romney voters are highly motivated to turn out for Mitt. Such enthusiasm is critical in a caucus state. Like its neighbors Nevada, Arizona, Washington and Wyoming, Idaho will be in the Romney column.
Virginia (49 delegates): Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich failed to qualify for the Virginia ballot. This is ironic as they have both lived in Virginia during their lobbying years. The Old Dominion primary is a two-man race between Romney and Paul, with Romney leading 69% to 26% in this weekend’s NBC/Marist poll.
Gingrich’s sure win
Georgia (76 delegates): Gingrich represented Georgia in Congress for 20 years. He has placed all of his Super Tuesday eggs in the Peach State primary basket and declared that it is a “must win” for him. Gingrich maintains a sizable 14-point lead over Romney in the Mason-Dixon poll even though he has been out of the national spotlight for weeks. The Romney campaign is, however, active in Georgia; it’s looking to pick up delegates, especially from Atlanta’s suburban congressional districts.
Santorum’s likely win
Oklahoma (43 delegates): The Oklahoma primary is tailor-made for Santorum, who has done well in the Midwest. Social conservatives make up a large proportion of the Sooner State’s voters and will likely reward Santorum’s relentless focus on their issues. The Real Clear Politics polling average puts Santorum up by 20 points. Those polls do not, however, take into account Senator Tom Coburn’s Sunday endorsement of Romney or Romney’s recent winning streak.