Tsunami Tuesday

Tsunami Tuesday

Jan. 30, 2008 -- Super Tuesday amounts to the nation's first national primary: On Feb. 5, residents in 24 states from coast to coast will go to the polls. By day's end, 60 percent of the country's eligible voters will have participated in a primary, caucus or convention -- and a clear front-runner for each party likely will have emerged.

The Feb. 5 voting also changes the nature of the race, bringing it to a national platform. Rather than targeting the concerns of individual states, as they did in early contests, candidates will have to focus on the mega-states with the most delegates, as well as the broader concerns of the entire country.

There is great interest in this election, with no incumbent and with the historic candidacies of the first viable female and African-American presidential contenders, as well as the first Mormon candidate. If recent contests offer any indication, voter turnout will be high. For this year's New Hampshire primary, close to 50 percent of the state's voters participated, compared to 30 percent in 2004.

What's at Stake on Feb. 5
  Candidates Big Prize Snapshots of the Region

Democrats: Clinton has strong political ties to the New York area. Although she is an Illinois native (who spent years as the first lady of Arkansas), she has represented New York in the Senate since 2001. Obama has done well with educated, affluent voters -- a group clustered in the New York metropolitan area.

GOP: In the 2000 GOP primaries, John McCain took Connecticut and Massachusetts. Mitt Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002 but did not seek a second term.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are all delegate-rich states; they are winner-take-all contests on the GOP side. The New York metropolitan area is also a key fundraising area. New York residents have given roughly $50 million to candidates as of October 2007.

Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York have some of the highest median household incomes in the country, with New Jersey being the highest at $66,752.


Democrats: Arkansas voters are quite familiar with former first lady Clinton. Obama is riding the wave of his win in South Carolina, where he earned 55 percent of the vote.

GOP: Huckabee hopes to pick up delegates in the region with help from evangelicals. McCain won South Carolina's GOP primary this year, but did not do well in the 2000 primary in West Virginia and Tennessee, earning 13 percent and 15 percent of the vote,respectively.While Romney has appealed to conservative Republicans, he does not appeal as much to Christian conservatives, who have been skeptical of his Mormon religion.

Georgia offers the most delegates: 87 for the Democrats and 72 for the Republicans.

Alabama, Arkansas and West Virginia have some of the lowest median household incomes in the country. Former President Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat that Southerners supported in the general election, when he swept the region in 1976. Bill Clinton had limited success in the South in his 1992 and 1996 victories.


Democrats: Illinois is Obama's adopted home state, but it is also Clinton's birth state.

GOP: Both McCain and Romney spent about a week in the Midwest to campaign for the Michigan primary.

Illinois offers the most delegates: 153 for the Democrats and 57 for the Republicans. It also offers the most fundraising potential in the Midwest, with $16 million raised by Illinois residents as of October 2007.

Midwesterners are suffering from wage stagnation and high foreclosure rates. The economy also played a huge role in the Michigan primary.


Democrats: Regardless of strategy or finances, the candidates will swing through California. In the Nevada caucuses, Clinton did well with Latino voters, a group she hopes to woo in the West.

GOP: The West is McCain's stomping ground: He has represented Arizona in Congress since 1983. Romney polls well in states such as Utah with large Mormon populations.

California offers the most delegates: 370 for the Democrats and 170 for the Republicans. For the GOP, Arizona, Montana and Utah are winner-takes-all contests.

Latino voters are a huge segment of the population in the West. Immigration is a key issue in Arizona, California and Colorado. In the West, water, environmental and energy issues also come into play.

Sources: NPR staff reports; NPR's Election Map; Federal Election Commission.