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Super Tuesday Results May Determine Primary’s Future

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Voters cast their ballots at a polling station on March 6, 2012 in Ohio. (credit: J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - All eyes are on Ohio and, to a lesser extent, Tennessee. They are two of the most important states Tuesday because they are the biggest contests in which the candidates don’t have a home field advantage.

More than 400 delegates are up for grabs in 10 states overall. That’s more delegates than what’s been awarded so far.

On this Super Tuesday, we already know the outcome of some states. Mitt Romney will win in Massachusetts (one of his home states), neighboring Vermont and Virginia, where only he and Ron Paul are on the ballot. Newt Gingirch will win his home state of Georgia. Rick Santorum will likely win Oklahoma, a very conservative state. In Tennessee, Santorum clings to a slight lead in the polls.

But in Ohio, Santorum had led for weeks. However, he has watched his lead dwindle, and now more polls are giving Romney the momentum to win the state. Santorum claims Romney has outspent him by a 12-to-1 margin there.

We’ve seen this happen before in Florida and just last week in Michigan, where Romney came from behind.

While Romney hasn’t been able to maintain a solid lead in momentum, he has still racked up many more delegates than Santorum so far: 187 to 65. If Romney beats Santorum in Ohio, and possibly Tennessee as well, it will be difficult, if not impossible for Santorum to catch up.

The issues have been out there for months. The candidates’ weaknesses have been discussed for months. If voters in Ohio — a crucial, big swing state — give their nod to Romney, it would seem as if Romney ably sealed the deal. Even though the delegates will all be awarded proportionately Tuesday evening, a Romney victory in Ohio and the other states discussed, could doom Santorum — not only in momentum, but simple delegate math.

Under that scenario, the next question would be whether Santorum and Gingrich stay in the race as long as they have previously vowed to do.

But if Santorum wins convincingly in Ohio, Tennessee and Oklahoma, that means he is still in the race, and will have an argument to fight on. If he wins Ohio in a close race, it would help Santorum’s momentum, but not necessarily his delegate count, again, because the delegates are being awarded proportionally.

There are still a lot of “what ifs,” but that may change by Wednesday.

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