While California is the crown jewel of Super Tuesday for both parties, the state could be make or break for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney against Arizona Sen. John McCain’s rising tide of support and state victories. National polls are showing McCain as the heavy favorite for the bulk of today’s contests, giving Romney few opportunities to re-establish himself and put himself in a position to continue on after Tuesday.
But an American Research Group poll released as voting began in California showed Romney and McCain essentially tied in the state. California would be key for any chance at a comeback for Romney, while a big loss will likely mean the end.
“He has to do well here, he probably has to win here,” Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report told the NewsHour. “If he could pull a win here, even if he had a bad night elsewhere he could say see in the biggest sate I won, I can go on. If he looses here it’s going to be difficult.”
Voting in delegate rich California was expected to have the biggest turnout in three decades.
The state’s complicated primary rules allocating delegates by congressional district make it likely that no one candidate will sweep the state. Adding another element of volatility, each congressional district will get three delegates to award to a Republican candidate, regardless of the number of Republicans in that district.
Romney made a last-minute stop in Long Beach, Calif., Monday after being heartened by several polls showing him close with McCain in the state. “Something big is happening in California,” he told the crowd during his appearance.
McCain also made a stop in California on Monday and picked up the endorsements of former California Govs. Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, in addition to his previous endorsement by current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He made another appearance in the state Tuesday after visiting the Northeast.