The Associated Press has taken a look at the math:
WASHINGTON (AP) – Don’t look to crown any presidential nominees on Super Tuesday. The race for delegates is so close in both parties that it is mathematically impossible for any candidate to lock up the nomination on Feb. 5, according to an Associated Press analysis of the states in play that day.
“A lot of people were predicting that this presidential election on both sides was going to be this massive sprint that ended on Feb. 5,” said Jenny Backus, a Democratic consultant who is not affiliated with any candidate. Now it’s looking as if the primaries after Super Tuesday – including such big, delegate-rich states as Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania – could grow in importance.
Here’s the picture for the Democrats:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton leads the race for delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer. She has 236, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as superdelegates, giving her a 100-delegate lead over Sen. Barack Obama.
There will be nearly 1,700 Democratic delegates at stake on Feb. 5, enough to put a candidate well on his or her way to the 2,025 needed to secure the nomination. But even if somehow either Clinton or Obama won every single one of those delegates, it wouldn’t be enough. And with two strong candidates, the delegates could be divided fairly evenly because the Democrats award their delegates proportionally – not winner-take- all.
And things aren’t any clearly on the Republican side:
The Republicans have a better chance to produce a clear front-runner because several states, including New York, New Jersey, Missouri and Arizona, award all their GOP delegates to the candidate who wins the popular statewide vote. But a Republican candidate would have to attract support across the country to build a formidable lead.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the race for delegates to the Republican National Convention with 59. He is followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 40 and Arizona Sen. John McCain with 36.
There will be more than 1,000 Republican delegates at stake on Feb. 5, enough to give a candidate a substantial boost toward the 1,191 needed to win the nomination – but only if one man emerges victorious in numerous states.
“I think you could have two or three viable (GOP) candidates” following Super Tuesday, said Ohio Republican Chairman Robert Bennett.
The one thing I see Super Tuesday doing on the Republican side is making the emerging McCain-Romney showdown inevitable. Giuliani is likely to fall apart in Florida, Huckabee just doesn’t seem to have the resources to be competitive beyond January 29th, and Ron Paul obviously isn’t running to win at this point.