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Super Tuesday Preview: The Republicans

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Since his victory in Florida, John McCain has opened up large double-digit leads over Mitt Romney in nearly every national poll for the Republican nomination. With Romney's decisive victory in the Maine caucuses this weekend (his fourth win so far), the two candidates are quite close in the delegate count (McCain 93, Romney 77), but McCain has all of the national momentum and most of the favorable media coverage.

Virtually no pundit is expecting anything but a McCain landslide on Super Tuesday, and yet there are still several states in play of the 21 on the calendar. The question is not whether McCain will remain on top in the delegate count at the end of the night, but whether Romney (and to some extent Mike Huckabee) wins enough states to put a dent into McCain's armour of inevitability.

The conservative backlash to the McCain coronation has been fierce, as evidenced by the harsh commentary directed at the Arizona Senator by influential right-wing commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingraham. If McCain loses, say, 8 or 9 of the 21 states on Tuesday, there may be enough of an opening for Romney to continue his campaign.

Several states are not likely to be competitive on Super Tuesday. McCain is running strong in his home state of Arizona, plus Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. Huckabee will carry his home state of Arkansas. Romney will carry his home state of Massachusetts, plus Utah and the Colorado caucuses.

Five additional states will hold caucuses on Super Tuesday: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and West Virginia. Minimal polling has been conducted in these states, but Romney has proven very strong in caucuses thus far (winning in Wyoming, Nevada, and Maine), while McCain has not won any. Smart Politics projects Romney will win at least 3 of these caucuses, though the independent-friendly state of Minnesota will likely go to the Arizona Senator.

In the remaining 7 states, 5 are in the south (Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee), 1 is in the West (California), and 1 is in the Northeast (Delaware).

Smart Politics projects a McCain victory in Delaware.

In each of the Southern states, McCain is either leading or in a statistical tie for the lead according to the latest polls. McCain should win the majority of these Southern states. Romney appears to be out of contention in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, and is competitive in tight three-way races in Georgia and Missouri. Romney's best chance is Georgia, and Huckabee's best shot is either Tennessee or Missouri.

That leaves the delegate-rich state of California. Polls show a dead heat between McCain and Romney. Obama's surge in California might be working to Romney's benefit, as independent-minded voters move away from McCain. Smart Politics projects Romney ekes out a win in California.

By the end of Tuesday night, Smart Politics expects McCain to carry 12 or 13 states, with Romney winning 6 or 7 and Huckabee winning 2 or 3. If those numbers come to fruition, Romney will remain in the race at least through Saturday's caucuses in Kansas and Washington and primary in Louisiana.

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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