Saturday's Washington Republican caucus is being seen as a possible sneak-peak at what will transpire on Super Tuesday next week. Will Romney dominate? Will a new ant-Romney emerge? Below are bullet points, data points, and every blurb you need to know to stay updated on this race. Updates will also be made as they come in.
UPDATE: Saturday 8 PM With nearly 30% of polls reporting in the state, Romney leads Paul 36% to 25%.
7:20 PM With 12% of polling stations reporting in the state, Romney leads Paul 31% to 27%. Santorum has 24% while Gingrich trails with 13%.
6:00 PM According to the NYT's Nate Silver: Although it might seem natural to compare the Pacific Northwest to New England, chilly coastal regions that have become reliably Democratic in general elections, they differ in one important respect. In New England, the Democrats are liberal, and the Republicans are relatively moderate. In Washington (and in Oregon), that is less true; while the liberals are still liberal, the conservatives are reasonably conservative, especially outside of Seattle.
5:15 PM Citing their strong grassroots network, Washington's GOP chair has predicted that either Mitt Romney or Ron Paul will win the state caucus.
GOP Chair Kirby Wilbur said ahead of the caucuses that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich "don't have the infrastructure, the ground game to follow up on turning the vote out."
"You've got to have people turn out, and if you don't have people reminding them to turn them out, show them where the caucuses are, that's a disadvantage," Wilbur said on Friday.
5 PM: Going into Saturday’s caucuses, Romney had a clear lead, according to a Public Policy Polling survey: 37% to 32% for Rick Santorum, 16% for Ron Paul, and 13% for Newt Gingrich. That’s a reversal from PPP's previous poll which had Santorum ahead of Romney 38%-27%.
4:33 PM: Ron Paul supporters say large turnout at Washington caucus, even calling it "chaos."
Friday 5:45 PM Because the state's caucus is the last before Super Tuesday, some believe a strong showing by Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum could influence voters in other states.
It's Washington state Republicans' turn to go to the polls on Saturday, when the state holds the Washington caucus ahead of Super Tuesday. Only 60,000 Republicans are expected to vote (the state has 3.7 million voters), but it's a contest for momentum ahead of the pivotal ten-state primary day next week.
All four candidates have spent time campaigning in the state. Ron Paul is running ads and both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have made last-minute visits to the state.
The outcome is difficult to predict, but Ron Paul supporters believe they have an opportunity to win their first contest. Paul has hosted well-attended rallies in the state, and he's attacking Santorum as a "counterfeit conservative" and Romney as a "flip-flopper."
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum is appealing to social conservatives to try to regain his momentum. Televangelist Pat Robertson beat incumbent President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 caucuses, and Santorum believes he can also use his conservative record on social issues to overtake Mitt Romney.
Santorum was leading by 11 points in the most recent public poll (38 percent to Mitt Romney's 27 percent) and evangelicals supported him 50 to 18 percent over Romney.
Mitt Romney gathered a large crowd on Friday and emphasized that he's the right candidate to defeat President Obama. “This guy is out of ideas and he’s out of excuses, so in 2012 we’re gonna get him out of office,” Romney said. “The reason he’s got to go is that he would take America in a place we wouldn’t recognize. He wants to fundamentally transform America. I want to restore to America the principles that made this the strongest nation on earth.”
Attendance is expected to be up this year. Between 13,000 and 14,000 Washington Republicans participated in the caucuses in 2008, and the Republican party chairman predicts the numbers to increase to somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 this year.
PolicyMic will be updating this page with live updates on Washington as they come in. Check back for more on Saturday.
If you're in Washington and have a tip about the campaign and Super Tuesday mood, comment below or let us know.
Photo Credit: Jayel Aheram