In Caucus States, a Chance for (Almost) Every Candidate
The states holding Republican caucuses on Tuesday have received little attention as compared with high-profile primary states like Ohio and Georgia. But the caucuses in Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota — in addition to awarding 87 delegates — will help decide how the overall Super Tuesday scoreboard is reported and may seem more important in the rearview mirror. In 2008, Barack Obama’s wins in the caucus states on Super Tuesday helped him to win more delegates from the evening, and turned what was initially perceived as a relatively poor performance for him into one that gave him some degree of momentum.
There hasn’t been any polling done in the caucus states. So in lieu of polling-based forecasts, we instead consulted with experts in each state to get the lay of the land.
Predicting a winner in Alaska is difficult — in large part because turnout for the caucuses has traditionally been very low. Moreover, the state’s Republican electorate is about evenly matched between Tea Party-aligned voters, including evangelicals and libertarians, and voters nearer the ideological middle who are more concerned about electability, said former state Representative Jay Ramras.
The Republican presidential campaigns have been mostly invisible in Alaska. None of the campaigns have advertised locally, and Representative Ron Paul of Texas is the only candidate to have visited the state personally. Mitt Romney sent one of his sons, Josh Romney. Rick Santorum has been calling into Alaskan radio programs, and Newt Gingrich held a telephone town hall with Alaskan voters on energy, a critical issue in the state.
Alaska is generally divided into four regions. The Anchorage area, Southcentral, is home to more than half the state’s population. It includes the Mat-Su Valley1 about 40 miles north of Anchorage. The Valley, a suburban bedroom community home to many evangelical Christians, is the most conservative region in the state and will likely favor Mr. Santorum.
Mr. Paul is likely to do well in the Fairbanks region, the most libertarian area of Alaska, itself a fairly libertarian-minded state. Mr. Romney will likely fare well in the comparatively moderate southwest, which includes
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