Super Tuesday Predictions

Super Tuesday Predictions After months of states racing to move their primary up to February 5th, the first day allowed for states not named “Iowa” or “New Hampshire,” Super Tuesday — or Super Duper Tuesday or Super-Duper-Mega-Jumbo Tuesday or whatever nickname one wants to call it — is finally upon us.

While this has indeed been “long primary season,” given that campaigning started in the fall of 2006 if not earlier, we’re technically only a month into the actual voting. Hard as it is to believe, the Iowa Caucuses were on January 3rd.

Today’s voting in two dozen states will go a long way towards deciding the eventual nominees. At least mathematically, though, it won’t be over tonight.


Barring some major surprises, John McCain will end the night as the prohibitive favorite for the nomination. Mitt Romney has closed the gap in California to make the biggest prize of the day a toss-up. It’s unlikely to be enough, however.

Unlike the early states, we don’t have an abundance of polls in every Super Tuesday state. Indeed, I haven’t found any polls at all for a couple. Here, though, is my SWAG at the outcomes:

    Alabama Primary (48 delegates): McCain
    Alaska Caucus (29 delegates): McCain
    Arizona Primary (53 delegates): McCain
    Arkansas Primary (34 delegates): Huckabee
    California Primary (173 delegates): McCain
    Colorado Caucus (46 delegates): Romney
    Connecticut Primary (30 delegates): McCain
    Delaware Primary (18 delegates): McCain
    Georgia Primary (72 delegates): McCain
    Illinois Primary (70 delegates): McCain
    Massachusetts Primary (43 delegates): Romney
    Minnesota Caucus (41 delegates): McCain
    Missouri Primary (58 delegates): McCain
    Montana Caucus (25 delegates): McCain
    New Jersey Primary (52 delegates): McCain
    New York Primary (101 delegates): McCain
    North Dakota Caucus (26 delegates): McCain
    Oklahoma Primary (41 delegates): McCain
    Tennessee Primary (55 delegates): McCain
    Utah Primary (36 delegates): Romney
    West Virginia Caucus (30 delegates): McCain

Mitt Romney could very well take California; he’s ahead in some of the polls and trailing by less than the margin of error in the aggregate. Still, I think the Giuliani and Schwarzenegger endorsements will help carry the day for McCain. Further, it barely matters: California awards its delegates proportionally.

Indeed, as Scott Elliot notes in his extensive breakdown,

It just so happens that in many states where McCain is ahead, the method is winner-take-all. As a result, he stands to gain large delegate blocks in such states as New York, Arizona, Missouri, and New Jersey. One the other hand, with the exception of Utah, states Mitt Romney might be expected to win break down the allocation of delegates to more than one candidate. For example, Romney’s home state of Massachusetts employs a proportional model.

The bottom line is that McCain’s delegates will come easier than Romney’s, increasing the effect of his strong polling numbers nationwide. I’m predicting McCain will win 60% to 65% of the delegates at stake today.

Mike Huckabee will almost certainly take his home state of Arkansas and it wouldn’t shock me if he picked up another state somewhere in the Deep South or West Virginia; I just don’t have the polling data to be confident in every case. Of this I’m sure: He’ll end the night with no hope of getting the nomination. I expect he’ll quit the race sooner rather than later once that’s clear.

The Media Conspiracy to Keep Ron Paul Down will have proven itself once again, too, as the man finishes the night all but mathematically eliminated.


A week ago, it looked like Hillary Clinton was set to run the table. She had a huge lead in California and New York, the two biggest prizes. Barack Obama has had an amazing surge, though, including some big time endorsements. I’m much less confident than I was just a few days ago that she’ll win the nomination. That said, she should have a very good day.

    Alabama Primary (60 delegates): Clinton
    Alaska Caucus (18 delegates): Clinton
    American Samoa Caucus (9 delegates): Clinton
    Arizona Primary (67 delegates): Clinton
    Arkansas Primary (47 delegates): Clinton
    California Primary (441 delegates): Obama in a squeaker
    Colorado Caucus (71 delegates): Clinton
    Connecticut Primary (60 delegates): Clinton
    Delaware Primary (23 delegates): Clinton
    Georgia Primary (103 delegates): Obama
    Idaho Caucus (23 delegates): Clinton
    Illinois Primary (185 delegates): Obama
    Kansas Caucus (41 delegates): Clinton
    Massachusetts Primary (121 delegates): Clinton
    Minnesota Caucus (88 delegates): Clinton
    Missouri Primary (88 delegates): Clinton
    New Jersey Primary (127 delegates): Clinton
    New Mexico Caucus (38 delegates): Clinton
    New York Primary (281 delegates): Clinton
    North Dakota Caucus (21 delegates): Clinton
    Oklahoma Primary (47 delegates): Clinton
    Tennessee Primary (85 delegates): Clinton
    Utah Primary (29 delegates): Clinton
    Democrats Abroad Primary (11 delegates): Clinton

I’m taking wild guesses on a handful of these, as I’m not seeing any publicly available polling. The statewide “winners” don’t really matter all that much, anyway, because the Democrats award their delegates proportionally. This seeming Clinton rout will actually be a fairly minor victory. Obama will get perhaps 45 percent of the delegates to her 55 percent, ensuring the race continues for quite some time.

Other predictions:

Delegate counts and state listings via NYT Election Guides: Democrats, Republicans.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    Do the states get to decide for themselves whether it is winner take all or proportional? I’m guessing maybe the Dems require it and the GOP lets each decide?

    If McCain wins all of those states and if CA and MA are proportional, why would he *only* get 65% of the delegates? Seems like it should be more but I haven’t done the math.

    Why does everyone and their polls think that Alabama Democrats are so different from Georgia and South Carolina? Obama crushed Hillary in SC, and would still have beaten her if every Edwards voter voted for her, which, despite their one notable similarity, I find unlikely. I am not arguing, just asking. I guess we will know for sure soon enough.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Why does everyone and their polls think that Alabama Democrats are so different from Georgia and South Carolina?

    Alabama’s whiter, for one thing. But if I were predicting without the benefit of polls, I’d nonetheless put it in the Obama column.

  3. FireWolf says:

    Well James, at least you admitted they were wild guesses 😉

  4. James Joyner says:

    Well James, at least you admitted they were wild guesses 😉

    About all you can do without data. The pollsters have ignored most of the smaller states being contested today.

    There was plenty of polling on all the previous races and most of them were quite accurate.

  5. Triumph says:

    American Samoa Caucus (9 delegates): Clinton

    Dude, I was with you until I saw this—

    Sure, I can see your reasoning since Gov. Togiola T.A. Tulafono endorsed Hillzilla.

    But–Obama has secured the endorsement of Congressman Eni H. Faleomavaega.

    Given Faleomavaega’s backing and the whole Hawaii connection, I think Obama is going to take Samoa pretty easily.

  6. Matt Garland says:

    Having also attended JSU (whup Troy), I see Obama winning Alabama, if only by a slim margin.

  7. Paul says:

    According to the census, SC is 29% black, Alabama 26%. And even if more Deep South Edwards supporters would prefer Clinton to Obama, I’ll bet much of that support is tepid. It is hard to imagine that those Edwards supporters will be as motivated to turn out for a second-choice Hillary as Obama’s supporters will for him.

    In any case, delegate counts notwithstanding, Obama may need to win a few more states than you give him to pull a good spin out of the day. Maybe AL, KS, ND, ID, UT and AK are possibilities for him.

  8. Jim Peterson says:

    Actually, you would know by now (1PM EST) that Romney is crushing McCain in West Virginia with Huckleberry coming in second. You had WV for McCain. Way off.

    Alaska will be Romney with Paul second. Again, way off.

    Finally, the only real math is whether McCain can get to 1191 by June 3rd. If Romney, Huckleberry and Paul can combine to stop this, we go to a brokered convention.

    At a brokered convention, Americans would have had 8 more months to understand Ron Paul’s message and Ron Paul may have made his message more palatable (the best way to make his anti-war stance irrelevant is to ask a war hawk if they would still be pro-war if Hillary were COC).

    Otherwise, Ron Paul takes his 10% following and goes 3rd party and destroys the Republican Party in November (including Congressional seats not being sought by defenders of the Constitution).

    I wish that Ron Paul were pro-war enough to be OK with the hawk crowd. It is outrageous how this one theme is the main reason why he is not taken seriously by the other 90% of Republicans.

  9. Michael says:

    I wish that Ron Paul were pro-war enough to be OK with the hawk crowd. It is outrageous how this one theme is the main reason why he is not taken seriously by the other 90% of Republicans.

    Seriously? Of all his policy ideas, his stance on the war is probably the least important reason why people don’t support him.

  10. Jim Peterson says:

    Please explain. 85% of Republicans are OK with the Iraq War, like I am. With that and not knowing about any laws that take my personal rights away, I would have had no interest in RP.

    At, that is basically the only complaint about him. You certainly can’t say “I don’t like him because he wants to legalize marijuana.” Nobody cares about that one way or the other.

    I would have no interest in Paul if I felt the US was still the freest country on Earth. But there are new laws that actively interfere with important parts of our lives. The entire social process from saying hello to someone (IMBRA law) through marriage and divorce (VAWA) and beyond are now more regulated than ever thanks to Bush/McCain/Clinton.

    Ron Paul is just very, very bad at explaining to people, using specifics, how they have lost important rights. He keeps going back to how the war on terror “is costing us too much money”.