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US voters get ready for Super Tuesday

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US voters in 10 states will go to the polls on “Super Tueday,” as the battle to fill the Republican Party’s presidential nomination continues.

Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia will all host primary and caucus nominating contests in what is becoming a protracted race to see who will take on President Barack Obama in November.

The sheer number of states in play Tuesday, with their diverse demographics and political leanings, could break open a candidate's pathway to the nomination, or spell the end of a failing campaign.

Super Tuesday essentially ended the Republican nomination battle in 2008, when Mitt Romney capitulated and Senator John McCain went on to become the nominee.

Four years later, Romney is the front-runner and could possibly seal the nomination on Tuesday. However, close behind is Rick Santorum who could pull off a stunning upset. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are also still in the race. 

Another likely scenario is that no clear winner will emerge.

Further uncertainty

"I'm not sure Tuesday means that much other than more of the same," said veteran strategist Neil Oxman, co-founder of The Campaign Group.

"What's going to happen is, Santorum is going to do well enough to continue," while Romney will emerge from Super Tuesday as "the favourite, but not the overwhelming favourite," Oxman told AFP news agency.

With some 437 delegates to August’s Republican National Convention up for grabs -- nearly 40 per cent of the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination -- Romney and Santorum have been criss-crossing the country to stake their claim to the biggest sweepstakes of the 2012 campaign.

Romney got a boost going into Super Tuesday with a win in the Washington state caucuses, but that contest was non-binding. So Romney, Santorum and former House speaker Gingrich each spent the day stumping in Ohio.

They realize all eyes will be on the crucial battleground state, which for decades has served as a bellwether for the general election.

One important factor is Gingrich, who is hoping to catapult himself back into the race. He is polling ahead in Georgia, the state he served in Congress for 20 years, and which has Tuesday's largest haul of 76 delegates.

Gingrich has been vying with Santorum to be the conservative alternative to Romney, but after a January win in South Carolina his campaign has faltered.

With the back-and-forth competition still undecided, some are starting to speculate about a possible brokered convention when the Republican Party gathers to select their candidate later this year.

If no one is able to win the 1,144 delegates needed, then the floor could open to potential candidates not currently in the race.


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