|Minnesota Caucus tonight- should Bachmann have endorsed anyone? Would it have mattered?|
Today isn't quite a "Super" Tuesday, that term being saved for a much bigger voting day next month, but 70 delegates are up for grabs today. Let's take a look at what is at stake, what might go down, and what to expect.
The States in play today are the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses (and Missouri primary(sort of)). However, neither state will award their delegates until down the road. In other words, they vote, CNN (and all the others) will declare a winner, but the states won't make it official until a more official party meeting is held next month.
Missouri has a nonbinding primary that is, for all intents and purposes, a fashion show and not much more. The state will vote in a primary, but doesn't actually award delegates until a caucus later on. Confused yet? In other words, the people vote, and the state listens, but just in case they change their minds and the guy they picked isn't favored to be the winner down the road, they can change their delegates to go to someone else. Stay classy, Missouri.
Let's not forget, Missouri is also our first chance to remember that Newt Gingrich had time to plan a moon base, but failed to hire someone to pay the $1000 fee, and turn in some paperwork, to get on the Missouri ballot.
What's at Stake
Minnesota has 40 proportional delegates. Pledged delegates follow the caucus results. But unpledged delegates are Republican National Committee delegates and official GOP members who get to attend the convention in August. They can vote for the candidate of their choice.
Colorado has 36 proportional delegates.
Missouri, waste of time that it is, has 52 proportional delegates. They may be a charade state, but it still worth keeping an eye on. For instance, will Gingrich get any votes in a state where he is not on the ballot? If he were to get a decent percentage, that would be very notable. (Huffington Post does a great job explaining why Missouri doesn't matter.)
Who do we expect to win?
Mitt Romney all but has Colorado locked up. He won in 2008 with 41.7% of the vote. He has spent more time in CO than in Minnesota. Also, his "election night party" is scheduled to be in CO, not Minnesota.
However, Rick Santorum can rise from the dust tonight with a potential win in Minnesota. He's doing well enough there that Romney even changed course this week, and attacked Santorum. (Something he's never done before.) He has the lead as of yesterday. However, Santorum's "election night party" is rumored to be in Missouri, not Minnesota.
Both states are proportional though, so expect both Santorum and Romney to go home with a pocketful for delegates. It looks like the real battle will be for second place in Minnesota.
Ron Paul took a virtual pass on Florida so that he could better work the caucus system for tonight's states. Many people have believed that the Paul supporters were looking to try a little trickery and manipulate the caucus system to keep their man getting votes. Tonight will be the first real chance to see if that is going to work. Paul will hold his party in Minnesota tonight.
Gingrich has nothing to look forward tonight except a lot of losing. He's not on the ballot in Missouri, and he's fighting for third place in the other two states. Expect a lot of posturing and "looking to the future" from him tonight. That being said, he'll be in Ohio tonight.
Missouri looks good for Santorum to win. But a win doesn't actually get him mathematically closer to the winner's circle. He has campaigned heavily there, while Romney basically took a pass on the state. But Santorum is in need of a popularity boost to keep him buzzworthy through the rest of February. Even without the delegates, this could be a major deal for him.
The three states will be influential in the general election: Colorado and Missouri are battleground states and Minnesota could also be contested.