"Super Tuesday" - the day in the nominating process in which the most states hold their elections - will not happen until March 6 this year, but today's voting could bring more clarity to a race in which Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has been distancing himself from his rivals, led by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.
Of the five states to weigh in so far, Romney has won Florida, Nevada and New Hampshire while Gingrich won South Carolina and Santorum won Iowa, which voted first.
Heading into today, Politico reports that Romney is in "solid shape" in Colorado, while Santorum is "gaining momentum" in Minnesota and Missouri and "could deliver a surprisingly strong performance." Gingrich, meanwhile, "isn't poised to have a good day," according to Politico , which notes that the former speaker will not even appear on the ballot in Missouri and is polling in third place, behind Romney and Santorum, in Colorado and Minnesota.
U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas is the fourth major candidate in the field, and the congressman is hoping for a solid performance in Colorado and Minnesota, which, unlike Missouri, hold caucuses instead of primaries. Paul has been focusing on caucus states since they award their delegates proportionally, " a strategy that plays to his strengths and enables him to amass delegates during a long slog to the convention," Politico notes.
The next round of voting in the GOP contest will take place February 28, when voters in Arizona and Michigan weigh in. On Super Tuesday, 10 states will cast ballots: Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.