The national press will be chortling, probably about the popular vote in Ohio, [the winner of which will net 1 delegate over his opponent, barring a surprisingly large blowout that would likely make this post moot]. So instead of focusing on the obvious here is a guide to the less reported stories about the delegate twists and turns which will tell us a lot about the true state of the race after Super Tuesday and whether the it will make it to Connecticut on April 24th.
1. Santorum in Massachusetts.
One of the least talked about and clearly underworked contests on Super Tuesday is Massachusetts. While obviously a forgone conclusion as to the winner, Santorum could snag as many as 11 of the 38 delegates up for grabs my hitting 15 percent across the state and in each congressional district, if he can climb closer to 20 percent, he could push that total 12 delegates. [The next delegate would come at around 30 percent which is asking to much in Romney’s backyard]
2. Georgia Statewide viability and majority thresholds.
Georgia’s 31 statewide at large delegates [those not decided by congressional district] are one of the biggest prizes available on Super Tuesday. The most recent polling has Newt Gingrich incredibly close to winning 50 percent of the vote statewide and therefore winning all 31 delegates. If he doesn’t Santorum is also very close to getting the 20 percent he needs to win some statewide delegates if he does he would win 7 delegates, with 8 for Romney, and 16 for Gingrich. If neither threshold is hit, Romney will likely walk away with 11 of these delegates to Gingrich’s 20.
3. Ohio by Congressional District
While the press will be focused intently on the statewide count, the more interesting story is in each of Ohio’s 16 Congressional districts. Unlike the statewide vote which is proportional and in a remotely close statewide race is very likely to split 8 to 7, [to do better would require a candidate to take 56.5 percent of the votes cast between the two of them, a very high bar, when the polling has an average margin of about 1.8 points separating the candidates]
Meanwhile, each Congressional district is winner take all at three a piece [to make matters crazier it is actually a separate election for the three delegates themselves.] While much has been made of Santorum’s problems here, they are more likely overblown. At the end of the day, any district in which Santorum fielded a delegate slate but it was incomplete. If that slate wins, he will end up receiving the delegates for it. While it is true, he did not make the ballot in three districts. In one of which, he wasn’t going to win anyway. In the other two it will come down to a battle between the Gingrich and Romney Slates, and if Santorum voters, vote at all strategically, Gingrich should be able to win these districts. Overall, Santorum would seem to be on track to win seven districts, to seven for Romney and the last two up in the air between the Romney Slates and Gingrich Slates, in likely Santorum districts in the statewide vote. While the districts will be close, this is a split that allows for the idea that Romney is the statewide winner by around 3 points. This would create a statewide split of 29 delegate for Romney, 28 for Santorum with six hanging in the balance between Romney and Gingrich.
4. Gingrich in Tennessee
Gingrich has seen a recent upsurge in Tennessee, which most importantly for him as catapulted him squarely past 20 percent threshold for statewide delegates. The more interesting is it will sling shot him into first or second place in any of Tennessee’s nine congressional district, and whether his strength completely upsets the apple cart, potentially pushing Romney to a Tennessee “win” At the moment, the delegates total is looking more like a potential split , with each candidate finding away to take roughly between 1/4th and 2/5th of the delegates With a lot in play, the split is looking like, Santorum 23, Romney 19, and Gingrich 13, but in theory any of candidates could end with a similar number to highest or lowest here.
5. Does Romney break 50 percent in Vermont and if not can Santorum or Paul Capitalize. If Mitt Romney wins 50 percent of the vote, he gets all 14 available delegates. By winning period he will get 3. However if he doesn’t get 50 percent and Paul or Santorum reach 20 percent they are entitled to a proportional share, or 2 delegates .
Besides just a lot of wrinkles, the result of these delegate twists could gain or lose Mitt Romney as many as 41 delegates. How many of these 41 delegates he does or does not capture is a far better barometer of how Super Tuesday went than anything else.
Jason Paul is a Connecticut political operative from West Hartford and a University of Connecticut Law School student.