Let's assume that Huckabee wins SC and either Giuliani wins Florida or it's so close as to be a four (or five)-way tie.
That then sets up a HUGE day for Republicans on Feb. 5 (it likely also will be a big day for Dems--we'll get to them in a later post). What to expect? Below, we go state-by-state, making your job as easy as sitting in a recliner and watching the Super Bowl.
First, a couple observations. 1. No candidate in the GOP race has the funds left to overwhelm his competitors in the Super Duper Tuesday races. There's simply too many states, including the massive media markets of New York and California. Nor is there time between Florida--on January 29--and the Feb. 5 mega-races for any candidate to do any meaningful retail campaigning. That means Florida is important from a momentum standpoint, but Florida will only get you so far.
2. The rules for awarding delegates vary considerably from state to state--we sort those out below as we handicap the races.
On February 5, nineteen states will hold presidential nominating primaries/caucuses for both parties, and two states--Montana and West Virginia--will hold Republican state conventions to make their picks. Roughly 40% of all delegates to the GOP national convention in September will be selected in these contests, including large numbers in New York and California. (Rougly 1081 delegates are at stake, although arcane rules in the various states mean that some of these won't actually be allocated on Feb. 5.)
No Republican candidate has any chance of sweeping, or even coming close to sweeping, the Super Duper Tuesday primaries. All five of the major GOP contenders have at least one easy win: their home states. Romney gets Massachusetts; Huckabee gets Arkansas; Giuliani gets NY; Thompson--if he makes it this far--gets Tennessee; and McCain gets Arizona.
As we see below, the rest of the states divide out across the field, with California and Illinois being the two largest contested prizes of the day.
Who'll Win What
We'll update this as we get closer to Super Duper Tuesday, but as of now, here's how the races stack up by candidate. Numbers in parentheses are the total number of delegates from that state.
Romney: Wins Massachusetts (43) and Utah (36). Utah is a great win, because it's a winner take all state and has a lot of bonus delegates for its past GOP loyalty. Massachusetts awards its delegates proportionately, so Mitt may have to share a few delegates with other candidates--probably McCain and Giuliani. Romney has a shot at Montana (25), but Montana is picking from a closed convention of roughly 3000 invited Republican insiders. Otherwise, Romney's only other pick-ups are from individual congressional districts in, possibly, California (173) and maybe Illinois (70).
Huckabee: Wins Arkansas (34), Alabama (48) Georgia (72), and Oklahoma (41). If he gets 50% of the vote in homestate Arkansas (no guarantee of that), it becomes winner take all; otherwise, he may have to share a few delegates with McCain or maybe Thompson. Georgia, which is a big prize--it's so red state that is has a large number of bonus delegates, giving it the third highest delegate total of the day--awards its delegates on a winner-take-all basis by congressional district. Huckabee should get everything in the rural parts of the state, but may give up a district or two around Atlanta. Alabama is like Georgia--winner-take-all by district. Oklahoma is a closer call, but if Huckabee can do well, it's also winner-take-all by congressional district, so he could sweep.
The Huckster has a shot at delegates in Montana (25)--there's a good chance the evangelical right makes up a big percentage of those GOP convention insiders--and maybe West Virginia (30--only 18 of which will be selected Feb. 5), which also has a convention. He could also pick up delegates in various congressional districts around the country that have high proportions of evangelicals and homeschoolers, like downstate Illinois.
Giuliani: Rudy should win New York (101) and New Jersey (52), both of which are winner take all states. He also has a good shot at Connecticut (30), which he and Romney will have to fight it out over. IF Giuliani wins Florida, his chances in Connecticut go up, but if Romney bests him in Florida, then we'd give the edge to the Mittster. In any event, Connecticut is winner-take-all, so it's worth the fight for both of them.
Otherwise, Giuliani has a shot at Illinois (70) and Delaware (18), but we think both states will be hotly contested between Rudy, Mitt and McCain. Delaware is winner-take-all, but Illinois is a delegate selection contest, meaning candidates can easily divide up the spoils. Indeed, we think Giuliani (IF he comes out of Florida viable), Romney, McCain and Huckabee will all come out of Illinois with some delegates. Giuliani also has a shot at some California congressional districts.
McCain: Here's where it gets tough for the old warhorse. His only sure bet is Arizona (53), which is winner-take-all. McCain has no real regional base in the party--his is more nationally oriented. Still, McCain can come out of the day with a large number of delegates from individual congressional districts--in states that award delegates that way--around the country. His best bets for pick-ups are delegate rich California (173) and Illinois (70).
Thompson: The Fredster doesn't have much of a shot, unless he outright wins South Carolina, and even then it's hard to see his path. However, if he stays in through Feb. 5, he should win his homestate of Tennessee (55), which awards delegates proportionately, except for winner-take-all in any congressional district where a candidate polls 50% or better. If we were Fred, we'd stay in, because those delegates could be a big bargaining chip in a deadlocked convention, and, of course, Fred could still emerge from such a deadlock as everyone's second choice.
What does that leave as openly contested?
Alaska (29): Alaska is caucusing. The delegates will probably get split up between three or four candidates.
California (173): These delegates are awarded on a winner-take-all basis by congressional district. McCain, Romney, Giuliani and Huckabee should all have a shot at some of these delegates. The statewide winner gets all--eleven--of the at-large/bonus delegates.
Colorado (46): Colorado is also caucusing. McCain should do well here, but Huckabee and Romney could also collect delegates.
Delaware (18): Winner-takes-all, so worth the fight between Giuliani, McCain and maybe Romney.
Illinois (70): Delegate selection, will be roughly proportional, so count on McCain, Giuliani, Romney and maybe Huckabee (downstate) to have an opportunity to make a few pick-ups.
Minnesota (41): Another caucus state, so expect roughly proportional distribution. McCain, Huckabee, Romney, maybe Giuliani, could collect delegates.
Missouri (58): Winner-takes-all and up for grabs. Worth contesting by Huckabee, McCain.
Montana (25): Totally insider system--closed statewide convention where the winner takes all. McCain, Romney and Huckabee should all contest this one.
North Dakota (26): Winner-takes-all. Huckabee could get this if he gets the evangelicals out in the cold; McCain has a shot, too. Maybe Romney?
West Virginia (30): Statewide convention, where the winner-takes-all in a multiple ballot process. Interesting! There will be a runoff amongst the top three candidates, then, if none gets a majority, another run-off among the top two. Winner-takes-all of 18 delegates, the other 12 to be awarded later in a primary. This could go any which way, depending on how losers' delegates pick their second choices. It could come down to who West Virginia Republicans dislike the least.
As you can see, there's no scenario that greatly favors any of the four most viable GOP candidates (sorry, Fred). More likely than not, each one gets some delegates, and it's doubtful any one of them would pick up more than 35% of the delegates at stake on February 5. It's almost impossible for anyone to get 50% of those delegates.
For example, if Giuliani does well, and wins NY, NJ, Connecticut and Delaware, plus some delegates in Illinois and California, he could haul in as many as 250 delegates--a little less than 25% of the total awarded on the day. Rudy's problem is that he runs well in blue states, which have few bonus delegates and thus are disproportionately small in the GOP world.
Likewise, if Huckabee does well, sweeping up Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and even Montana, West Virginia, North Dakota and Missouri, he'd have 334 delegates--a little less than 35% of the day's take.
A good day for Romney would be Mass., Utah, Montana, Connecticut and decent blocks of delegates from California and Illinois, (say 25%), which would put him around 200 delegates.
And a good day for McCain would be Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Missouri, Montana, West Virginia and a good haul from California and Illinois and a few more from other proportional states, still giving him less than 300 delegates.
[Each of the candidates above could reap another 50-100 delegates from various proportional contests.]
In other words, unless someone comes out of the next three contests--SC, Nevada and Florida--with real momentum, the prospect for Republicans to have a nominee by February 6 is pretty small. The only ones who could get that kind of momentum are (1) McCain, by winning SC and Florida, or (2) Huckabee, by doing the same thing. And both of them have fairly large "anti" contingents awaiting them even if they do pull off such a mini-sweep.
As we said, we'll update this analysis after the SC and Nevada contests over the weekend.