Thursday, January 31, 2008

AP: Here's a look at Tuesday's big prizes

Here's a look at Tuesday's outlook. From the Associated Press.


CALIFORNIA (170 delegates)

McCain runs strongly ahead, and is set to pick up the endorsement of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Only registered Republicans can vote in the primary. That could benefit Romney and hurt McCain, who draws his support more widely.

The state party will distribute delegates based on the winner in each congressional district, meaning 53 separate contests each offering three delegates. Thus, the candidates are targeting time and money carefully to the districts they think they have the best chance to win.

McCain could have an advantage in urban areas and California's coastal counties that tend to lean toward the left. The former Vietnam prisoner of war also should find support in the south around military-focused San Diego. Romney may perform well among the more conservative inland counties.

Romney has more campaign organization here, and money. But Giuliani's backing could help McCain overcome that. The former New York mayor has a campaign organization here.

The effect of Schwarzenegger's endorsement is unclear; the celebrity governor has a political network that certainly will be helpful in the campaign but his popularity is not at a high point given state budget turmoil.


NEW YORK (101 delegates)

With Giuliani bowing out, New York is McCain's to lose — a lot of delegates and winner-take all.

It's also the country's most expensive media market, so it may make sense for Romney to put his resources elsewhere in an effort to cobble together wins in smaller caucus states.

Giuliani's support — and withdrawal — will significantly benefit McCain, who recently overtook the ex-mayor in New York polling.

McCain's national security experience — and resolve to win wars in Iraq and against terrorism — will play well in the state of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He runs strongest in the conservative upstate region around Rochester and Syracuse.

That's the region where most Republican primary votes are concentrated; New York City accounts for only 500,000 of the state's roughly 3 million registered Republicans.


GEORGIA (72 delegates)

Huckabee leads.

The former Baptist preacher and Southern governor is limping along, short on cash and victories. But he views Georgia as the perfect state for him to make a comeback — or at least cause waves in the race.

He rallied fellow evangelical Christians in Iowa to win and hopes to do so again here. For him, it seems, the race has become less about winning the nomination and more about solidifying himself as a fresh-faced leader.

The state awards delegates by congressional district; thus, Romney — who has the endorsements of three congressmen — may try to pick off districts that could be easiest to win.

McCain won't ignore the state, but it's not a priority.


MISSOURI (58 delegates)

It's a toss-up between McCain, Romney and Huckabee.

All three plan stops in the state or already have visited in recent weeks; the attention underscores the prize, again winner-take-all.

Huckabee hopes his ties to the religious right give him a boost. Romney has Midwestern ties and the support of Gov. Matt Blunt — and access to Blunt's political organization.

The state, very conservative in Republican primaries, is not a natural fit for McCain. But he may benefit from Huckabee competing in the state. Huckabee and Romney could split the vote on the right, making way for McCain to rack up another win.

It's also possible for McCain to benefit at least a little from Giuliani's support in Missouri, where the former mayor had the backing of longtime Sen. Kit Bond. Yet there is no love lost between Bond, an appropriator, and McCain, the pork buster.


ILLINOIS (57 delegates)

The state is up for grabs.

McCain has an edge in recent polls, but Romney has some semblance of a campaign to build upon. Romney's Midwestern roots — he was born and raised in Michigan — could help him.

Both plan to spend time in Illinois in the coming days, primarily to raise money in Chicago.

The Chicago suburbs and the city itself may be more amenable to McCain, while the rural, more conservative southern swath of the state could lean toward Romney. Huckabee could peel votes away from him should Christian evangelicals in the south turn out.

Delegates are won congressional district by congressional district.


NEW JERSEY (52 delegates)

Advantage, McCain.

In many ways, this winner-take-all state is much like neighboring New York. Giuliani held an enormous lead in New Jersey for a year before McCain recently overtook him in polls.

New Jersey is home to huge numbers of moderate Republicans, and that bodes well for McCain, as does its focus on issues like port security and defense.

As in New York, Romney must weigh whether competing here is worth it. Campaigning in New Jersey typically doesn't result in much of a return on a candidate's investment. Philadelphia and New York are the two media markets that cover the state, making TV ads extraordinarily expensive to run. At the same time, it's hard for candidates to break through the cluttered news environment to earn free media exposure.

McCain has the backing of former Gov. Thomas Kean, while Romney has the support of State Sen. Joe Kyrillos, the former chairman of New Jersey's Republican state committee.



Of the 15 other states that will vote, three are home states that each candidate is all but certain to win — Arizona for McCain, Massachusetts for Romney and Arkansas for Huckabee.

Utah is essentially a second home for Romney; its large Mormon population is likely to give him a win. He also will look to win in states that hold caucuses — Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota — and one that holds a state convention, West Virginia.

McCain could do well in Oklahoma, as well as moderate Northeastern states like Connecticut and Delaware. Huckabee will look to a Southern swath of conservative bastions like Tennessee to validate his weakened candidacy.

Montana is a wild card.

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