Super Tuesday Preview: Virginia

Yahoo Contributor Network

Super Tuesday is the biggest day of the primary calendar. More than 400 delegates are up for grabs. But in Virginia, only two GOP candidates are eligible to receive votes: Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul. How can this be? Here's an explanation of why, how the process works in the Old Dominion, what's at stake, and the current state of the race.

* Virginia will send 49 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Virginia has 11 congressional districts, each with 3 delegates.

* The candidate with the most votes in each district wins all of the delegates. The remaining 13 at-large delegates are awarded to the candidate with the highest statewide vote total. If the first-place candidate has over 50 percent of the statewide vote, he wins all of them, otherwise, the at-large delegates are awarded proportionally to each candidate with at least 15 percent of the statewide vote.

* This year, there are only two Republican candidates on the primary ballot for president. Only the Paul and Romney campaigns were able to secure the necessary signatures on nominating petitions. Candidates were required to gather 10,000 signatures from Virginia registered voters. Gov. Rick Perry sued to get on the ballot, but lost.

* Write-in candidates are prohibited in primaries in Virginia. A law is being considered to change that, but it will not apply to the election this year. The 2012 Republican primary contest is limited to two choices.

* The Commonwealth of Virginia is an open primary state. Registered voters can vote in any primary they wish. This year, because President Barack Obama is the only Democrat in the race, the Democratic presidential primary was canceled.

* Absentee ballots will be accepted until the close of polls on Election Day. Polls are open from 6am to 7pm Eastern Time.

* A recent Roanoke College poll of Virginia voters showed Romney with a huge lead over Paul. First reported by WDBJ Channel 7, Romney leads Paul by 35-points, 56 percent to 21 percent.

* Due to the two-man nature of the primary race, political polls in Virginia have concentrated on the general election, and President Obama has polled well. According to poll results compiled by RealClearPolitics.com, Obama leads Romney by 1.4 percent on average, but the most recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters gives Obama a more comfortable 6-point edge. Obama also leads Sen. Rick Santorum, but by a wider margin, 4.5 percent on average, and 8 percent in the most recent poll. Against Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, the President has double-digit leads.

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