Super Tuesday will be key to deciding the presidential nominees but don't expect the race for the nomination to end today -- especially for the Democrats. McCain's lead over Romney is widening, and if he captures the most states and delegates tonight he should emerge the clear victor. Obama has narrowed Clinton's once-wide lead and Democrats award victory based on a combination of popular vote, delegates won, and states won. Expect some spin once the votes come in.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
- 3, 516 delegates in 24 states.
- Republicans need 1,191 delegates to win the party's nomination. Current tally: John McCain 93, Mitt Romney 77, and Mike Huckabee 40.
- Democrats need 2,025 delegates to win. Current tally: Barack Obama 190, Hillary Clinton 261.
VOTERS TO WATCH
- Women. Clinton consistently pulls women voters, but Obama has recruited female campaigners like Oprah, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, and his wife Michelle. Will exit polls show that he's gaining support among women voters?
- Hispanics. Clinton proved her popularity with Hispanics in Florida and Nevada, and McCain's immigration policies are popular with Hispanic voters. Can their opponents take Hispanic votes?
- Conservative evangelicals. McCain's gains have been mostly among moderate and liberal Republicans. Can he capture the support of the Republican base?
STATES TO WATCH
- California: 173 GOP delegates, 441 Democratic delegates. Clinton's lead is shrinking and polls say she has 36% to Obama's 34%. McCain has 32% to Romney's 24%.
- New York: 101 GOP delegates, 281 Democratic delegates. Thanks to Giuliani's blessing, McCain is polling 54% to Romney's 22%. This is a Clinton stronghold, but Obama has won endorsements from African-American leaders there.
- New Jersey: 127 Democratic delegates. Obama's momentum has spread to New Jersey, and it's no longer clearly Clinton country. Current polls say Clinton 48%, Obama 43%.
- Massachusetts: 43 GOP delegates, 121 Democratic delegates. Another state where Clinton's lead has shrunk (Obama 46%, Clinton 44%), thanks to Sen. Ted Kennedy's endorsement. Romney still polls 50% to McCain's 37%, but analysts say McCain is gaining momentum. If he wins, it may strike a fatal blow to the Romney campaign.
- Missouri : 58 GOP delegates, 88 Democratic delegates. This is a state with a large number of evangelicals, and McCain is polling 37% to Romney 24%. It's another close state for the Democrats with Clinton at 47% and Obama at 41%.
- Arizona: 67 Democratic delegates. This state is key for the Hispanic vote, and (for the Democrats at least) it's up for grabs.
- Georgia: 72 GOP delegates. Another state with a big evangelical population, it's a close three-way race between McCain (33%), Romney (27%), and Huckabee (17%).
- Alabama: 48 delegates. A close state for both Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats watching the black vote and Republicans stumping for the evangelicals. Among Republicans, 29% are undecided, 25% are with Huckabee 25%, and 22% are for McCain. Where will the undecided voters go?