Here's a quick guide to what's at stake next Tuesday in the GOP primary:
• Alaska—26 delegates, caucus
• Georgia—76 delegates, primary
• Idaho—32 delegates, caucus
• Massachusetts—41 delegates, primary
• North Dakota—28 delegates, caucus
• Ohio—66 delegates, primary
• Oklahoma—43 delegates, primary
• Tennessee—58 delegates, primary
• Vermont—17 delegates, primary
• Virginia—49 delegates, primary
In addition to the above contests, Wyoming Republicans will begin their formal delegate selection process. That comes on the heels of their just-concluded straw poll. Mitt Romney is expected to gain 10 delegates, Rick Santorum 8, Ron Paul 6, and Newt Gingrich 2 with 3 others undetermined. In Washington state, Republicans will hold their caucuses on Saturday with 43 delegates at stake.
Through the end of February, 302 of the 2,286 available delegate had been selected. After Super Tuesday, another 508 will have been chosen—nearly twice as many as have been picked to date. In total, a bit more than one-third of all available delegates will have been chosen.
Most of the focus on Super Tuesday will be on Ohio and Georgia, but between them, they represent just one-quarter of the delegates at stake. That's not totally unreasonable as those states will probably be good bellwethers, but probably the most important metric for Super Tuesday will be whether any of the candidates is able to take either a majority of the available delegates or at least get fairly close while the other two divvy up the remaining delegates.
Outside of Ohio and Georgia, there really hasn't been a lot of polling, but in those states, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have held the lead. A newly released poll in Tennessee conducted before Arizona and Michigan shows Santorum with a big lead, but so much can change in such a short period of time that I wouldn't trust the results.
Given the expectations for Super Tuesday, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich probably have the most at stake. If Mitt Romney were to capture a majority of the delegates available, it's hard to see how either Santorum or Gingrich could be taken credibly going forward. The race would clearly be over. But even if Santorum slightly outperforms Romney (something Gingrich won't do), Romney will still be able to argue he's better positioned for Santorum, and he'd still have the overall delegate lead, so he'd wake up Wednesday morning with reason to maintain his confidence. The only scenario Romney really needs to worry about is if Santorum manages to win far more delegates than he does, potentially even putting Santorum into the overall delegate lead. Given national polling trends, that doesn't seem likely, but it's probably the only Super Tuesday outcome that Romney needs to sweat.
10:14 AM PT: Dave Weigel notes the preliminary numbers out of Wyoming only give Romney a two delegate edge, but he had an 8 delegate advantage in 2008 over John McCain. An edge is an edge is an edge, but Romney will need to do much better than that in the rest of the Super Tuesday states to start closing the nomination battle down.