There's a good reason why it's called "Super Tuesday."
On February 5th, voters in nearly two dozen states, including Missouri and Illinois, will cast ballots in a series of primaries that could easily determine the Republican and Democratic nominees. Based on the most recent polls, which aren't always accurate, it appears Super Tuesday will be a blowout.
Hillary Clinton has dominant leads in California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Arizona, all states with a huge number of delegates. Barack Obama has a big lead only in Illinois and Georgia, although other states, including Kansas and Colorado could be up for grabs.
On the Republican side, John McCain holds a commanding lead over Mitt Romney in all of the biggest states, including California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. Romney is spending a fortune to remain competitive, outspending McCain 2-1. Romney loaned his campaign $17 million during the first three quarters of last year. He could pump another $30 million of his own money into the campaign.
Missouri and Illinois are always important states in national elections. Missouri represents the heartland and has a great track record for choosing the eventual winner. Illinois is valuable because it has Chicago and a large number of delegates. A recent Rasmussen poll shows Missouri is a tossup between Mike Huckabee and McCain, while Clinton holds a 19 point lead over Obama. Obama and McCain are far ahead in Illinois.
So, what happens after the primaries on Tuesday? If there are clear frontrunners in the race they'll gain momentum, even more media attention and millions of dollars in additional contributions. If the race is still competitive, it may come down to the Texas primary a month later. McCain and Clinton are heavily favored there.
I never write off anyone this early in a political race, especially with so much at stake. However,
there's no doubt that Super Tuesday will carry enormous influence. In 1992, Bill Clinton rose from the dead on Super Tuesday to win the nomination. In 1996, Bob Dole emerged the clear GOP frontrunner. In 2000, George Bush and Al Gore wrapped up their nominations on this Super Bowl of election days.
Today, a new Rasmussen poll was released showing McCain holds an 8 point lead over Clinton and a 7 point lead over Obama. The poll was taken in mid-January, two days before McCain won the South Carolina primary.
Rasmussen claims McCain has an 82% chance of winning the Republican nomination. It gives Clinton a 62% chance of being the Democratic nominee.
The most exciting parts of any election are the inevitable surprises. It'll be fascinating to see if there are any wild cards dealt on Super Tuesday.