By Paul Gable
Voting and caucuses today throughout 10 states could lead to a much clearer picture of the Republican presidential nominee, or not.
Will Mitt Romney break through to be called the eventual nominee, or not?
So many questions, maybe some answers when Super Tuesday is over.
The key states to watch today are Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Additionally, voter turnout must be watched as Republican presidential primary voters so far have been about 10 percent fewer than in 2008. South Carolina is the exception to that, as voters turned out to support Newt Gingrich, but Newt hasn’t done much since.
Ohio, where Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum began today in a virtual tie in polls, could make a big statement toward the nomination if Romney pulls out a win. However, if Santorum comes in on top, we could be looking at a brokered convention.
Gingrich needs and expects a big win in his home state of Georgia. If he gets it, Newt will stay in the race, but only to be a spoiler come convention time. If Gingrich does not win by a big margin, it should be the end of his candidacy.
Even with a win in Ohio, if one occurs, Romney needs more states today to solidify him as the prospective nominee. Tennessee provides him with an opportunity to show he can win in the South. Again, however, he is in a virtual tie with Santorum going into the voting.
Santorum appears to be in position to win Oklahoma today as he leads Romney by double digits in recent polls.
Virginia, where only Romney and Ron Paul are on the ballot, is reporting light turnout at the polls. Romney should carry this state by a comfortable margin.
Romney should certainly win big in Massachusetts and Vermont primary voting today as he carries a big home field advantage in both states.
If Romney pulls out wins in Ohio and Tennessee to go along with Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia in primary voting, he will force Republican voters to begin to look at him as the eventual nominee.
If Santorum wins either or both of those states, he will remain a strong challenger for the anti-Romney forces in the Republican base.
Alaska, North Dakota and Idaho are holding caucuses today.