How Super Tuesday Looks for Republicans in Key States

By Jerry Miller | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - With less than 24 hours to go before tomorrow's Super Tuesday vote, polls show Texas Governor George W Bush leading in the Midwest, the West and the South.

The polls also show Bush gaining strength in several Northeastern states, including Connecticut and New York, where Arizona Senator John McCain was expected to do well.

A total of 613 delegates to the Republican National Convention will be chosen March 7, a little more than 60 percent of the 1,034 delegates needed for the presidential nomination.

McCain is expected to win in Massachusetts, where Republicans tend to be more progressive than elsewhere in the country. McCain is likely to benefit from the nearly 30,000 Democrats and "unenrolled" or Independent voters, who have switched to the Republican Party, at least temporarily.

McCain also is expected to do well in Maine and Rhode Island.

In California, which will send 162 delegates to the Republican National Convention and which has a winner-take-all contest, Bush leads McCain, by a margin of 47 to 27 points, according to the latest MSNBC-Reuters Poll.

The state could prove difficult for any Republican come November, given the fact that in recent years, critical elections have been won by Democrats, including the governorship and the two U.S. Senate seats. GOP activists, including Bush supporter and U.S. Rep. David Drier, point to Bush's ability to win the votes of minorities and women in his home state. They hope Bush can do the same in California.

While everyone can vote in the Republican contest, only the votes of registered Republicans count in choosing the 162 convention delegates. That means Bush could win the GOP base, with McCain taking the popular vote, if he can muster enough Democrats and Independents to join Republicans.

McCain supporters insist that if their man takes the popular vote, it would be bad news for Bush, since it would paint the Arizona senator as a stronger general election candidate.

In Georgia, Bush is expected to defeat McCain by at least a 20-point margin, easily walking away with the Peachtree State's 54 GOP delegates. One recent survey showed Bush leading McCain by a 62 to 23 percent margin in Georgia.

Bush's expected win in Georgia is probably a harbinger of races scheduled for March 14th, when several other southern states hold their primary contests. These include Bush's home state of Texas; Florida, where Bush's brother Jeb is governor; Louisiana; Mississippi and Oklahoma. Bush is heavily favored in all contests on March 14th.

In New York State, which will send 101 delegates to the GOP convention, the polls give McCain a slight lead over Bush. However, there is one notable exception: the MSNBC Reuters Poll has Bush ahead by three points. Given the survey's five- point margin of error, the contest is considered a statistical dead heat.

The Empire State race will likely be decided in a host of suburban communities, including GOP enclaves on Long Island. Conventional political wisdom has the majority aligned with McCain.

McCain has tried to appeal to Catholic voters in the Empire State, by continuing to criticize Bush's visit to Bob Jones University, a visit Bush made while campaigning in South Carolina.

A loss in New York could prove disastrous for McCain, given the large number of delegates and the likelihood of his losing the delegate fight in California.

In Ohio, a winner-take-all contest in a long-time bellwether Republican state, 69 convention delegates are up for grabs. Recent polls have Bush leading McCain by a 53 to 36 percent margin.

Both New York and Ohio have large Catholic populations and relatively small number of Christian conservatives.