With total spending already at a whopping $6 million for television and radio ads, Ohio is shaping up to be the prized primary possession for the GOP candidates on Super Tuesday. Because it will be the political talk of the weekend, here's a primer on everything you need to know about Ohio:
How many delegates are at stake in Ohio? There are 66 delegates up for grabs in Ohio, second to Georgia's 76 delegates.
So if it doesn't have the most delegates, why is it so important? For one thing, Georgia is Newt Gingrich's home state, so it is not expected to be as tight of a race. More importantly, Ohio carries weight as both a Republican proving ground and a general election proving ground. The contest tests each candidate's ability to connect with a diverse cross-section of GOP voters, rural and urban, small town and big city, working class and the wealthy.
Who's leading in the polls? Two recent surveys of Ohio voters by Rasmussen Reports and Quinnipiac University were released on March 1, and both polls show a tight race between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. The first shows Santorum 33 percent of the vote with Romney trailing by two points, while the Quinnipiac poll indicates that Santorum leads Romney by four points (35 to 31 percent).
Can Ron Paul win there? No. Newt Gingrich trails all polls in third place, and Ron Paul is in fourth behind all three candidates.
How much money has been spent so far? Romney's campaign and super PAC has shelled out close to $1.5 million already, while Restore Our Future has put in $2,369,244. That totals nearly $3.9 million. The pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future has put in $736,044. Rick Santorum’s campaign has spent just $386,669, while his super PAC has put in $515,937.
Can Democrats participate? The Washington Post reports that the Ohio Republican Party says the primary is “semi-open,” which makes it a lot like Michigan. “You can ask for a Republican ballot or a Democratic ballot,” a worker at the party headquarters in Columbus said. Watch out for Democrats to come out and vote for Santorum to try to thwart Mitt Romney.
What's the X factor? The influential X factor could prove to be Ohio's women. In the most recent polls, Santorum has opened up a larger lead among women, who now favor him over Romney 37 percent to 33 percent. Watch for this important demographic.
Will it matter? Yes, in terms of delegates and influence, but though Ohio carries outsize political weight, the election is starting to look like the Democratic 2008 nomination. The GOP nominee will not be decided on Super Tuesday. This nomination fight will more than likely continue on to the summer.
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