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What's so super about Tuesday? 419 GOP delegates

By Connie Cass

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, March 6 2012 11:10 a.m. MST

In Tennessee, a confident-sounding Santorum is trying to walk the footsteps of another outspoken Christian conservative, Mike Huckabee, who won this primary four years ago. Romney boasts the support of popular Gov. Bill Haslam, while Gingrich is getting plugs from one of the state's most colorful political figures: former senator, movie actor and "Law & Order" star Fred Thompson. At stake are 55 delegates.

Dotted with drilling rigs and cattle ranches, Oklahoma straddles the South and the Great Plains and sits squarely among the reddest of the red states. Santorum tagged it "ground zero of the conservative movement," and his anti-abortion, pro-family values message attracts enthusiastic crowds here. The other three hopefuls also have dropped in, hoping to prove their conservative bona fides to the Okies. It offers 40 delegates.

Paul's big night?

The anti-war, libertarian-leaning, unorthodox Republican hasn't won a single state. Super Tuesday could change that.

Paul is focusing on the three caucus states — Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska — where a big turnout by his cadre of enthusiastic followers would have the most impact. Even if he doesn't score a win, he's likely to pick up delegates to help power him into this summer's Republican convention with enough clout to promote his ideas.

But his rivals won't make it easy.

Idaho's big Mormon population — about a fourth of its voters — bodes well for Romney, who is Mormon. Santorum's looking to win in North Dakota, and Romney's trying, too.

Paul, a Texas congressman, may be the only one to journey to Alaska, however; he was there on Sunday. Meanwhile, Alaska's most famous Republican, Sarah Palin, has been saying some nice things about Gingrich.

Together, the three caucuses pay out 84 delegates (Idaho 32, North Dakota 28, Alaska 24).

What's the deal with Virginia?

Gingrich would love to compete in this Southern state, but he's not. Only Romney and Paul landed spots on the ballot, by having early organizations strong enough to collect the required 10,000 signatures. That leaves Virginia mostly a curiosity. What kind of showing can Paul muster going mano-a-mano with Romney? The fight is over 46 delegates.

Romney territory:

There's little drama in the Northeastern races. Romney's virtually unopposed in his power base of Massachusetts, where he was governor just over five years ago. Delegates: 38. He's expected to win neighboring Vermont handily, too, although Santorum seeks to peel away some of its 17 delegates.

A footnote:

Wyoming is almost a Super Tuesday state. Some of its counties start picking delegates Tuesday. But others won't caucus until Saturday, so no official statewide results before then. Romney won a nonbinding straw poll in Wyoming last month with Santorum close at his heels. At stake: 12 delegates.

Next up:

Caucuses and primaries in Kansas, Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois and Louisiana fill out the busiest month of the nomination season. Three territories — American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — also get their say in March.

Associated Press writer Jack Gillum contributed to this report.

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