Will Romney have a Super Tuesday or will Santorum crash the party?

In the first of a two-part series, Raheem Kassam takes a look at the night ahead. Check back with The Commentator tomorrow for the post-game analysis

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Voters are out. Who will have the biggest smile tomorrow?
On 6 March 2012 22:05

Trying to understand the impact of Super Tuesday is a long and arduous endeavour best saved for psychologists and electoral analysts. In reality, dissecting the results we see will see today will take some months or even years worth of analysis and hindsight.

We may have to accept that in this incredibly unique primary cycle, we'll never truly understand all the dynamics at play.

What is immediately obvious is that the diversity of methods of each of the ten states voting today, along with the impact they each have, is wide and most have different implications for the candidates.

Without going into too much detail, it's worth noting, for instance, that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich won't be on the ballot for Virginia, leaving the door open for a huge Romney victory. Also, North Dakota is a crucial place for Ron Paul as it’s an open primary and his campaign team will be based there for tonight's results. As a consequence, you can expect a strong Paul showing. Whether or not this will help anyone's impressions of Paul's conservatism is up for debate. The fact he'll be recruiting in independents and even Democrats could be harmful to his fundraising strategy and media profile, depending on the coverage that this result gets.

Furthermore, we have to understand that a good result is a distant prospect for Newt Gingrich tonight. My personal view is that he may pick up a Southern state or two even, but these should have been expected victories given that not long ago he was considered the front runner and was raising millions, even if this was from only one or two big sources.

Even if Romney loses out to Santorum in Ohio, some administrative discrepancies preclude Santorum from picking up all the delegates in that state. This isn't an unlikely scenario with an open primary. Democrats and their union friends have been pulling strings to make sure Romney can't get the momentum he requires and that the GOP continues to fracture itself.

Certainly tonight could serve to knock the stuffing out of Rick Santorum. He needs to pick up a few victories to make sure he stays firmly as the main contender to Romney. Mitt's nightmare would be that Gingrich gets burned too badly, drops out and cedes that ground to Santorum. Suddenly Rick is number one with a bullet.

Keep an eye on the margins of victories and the urban-rural spread too. This will give us an idea of where candidates need to go over the next few months.

Make no bones about it – tonight is going to impact this race more than any other event has to date. You'll definitely want to check back with us tomorrow for the post-game analysis.

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator, writing this piece from Washington DC 

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