Super Tuesday is March 6. Primaries and caucuses will be held in 10 states across the nation, and the prize is a whopping 419 delegates - more than a third of the magic number of 1,144 needed to secure the Republican Party's presidential nomination.
[Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News]
1. Is Rick Santorum for real? The former U.S. senator is the most recent candidate to ride a popularity surge, thanks to Tea Party conservatives and evangelical voters. But his penchant for saying controversial things is raising a whole bunch of red flags. He's come under fire most recently for claiming President Barack Obama believes in "phony theology," which some interpreted as an attempt to sow doubt about Obama's Christianity among voters.
Super Tuesday will be a real test of the Santorum campaign's strength and organization, not to mention a gauge of the willingness among Republican voters to look beyond some of the candidate's quirks. Is he for real? Or is he merely the "not Mitt" of the moment? We'll find out on March 6.
2. Will it be the end of Newt? Yes, there are fresh doubts being cast about former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's ability to win Georgia. And if he can't carry a state he represented in Congress for 20 years, how can he win the presidential nomination let alone the presidency?
A loss there would be a humiliation, something Gingrich readily concedes. Appearing on Fox News Sunday this week, he said losing Georgia would "badly" weaken his candidacy, but added it would be akin to Santorum losing Pennsylvania or Romney losing Michigan. "I think it's extraordinarily important to win your home state," he said.
Team Gingrich has said it will stay in the race at least through Super Tuesday. There are 76 delegates at stake in Georgia, making it the largest prize in the Super Tuesday delegate sweepstakes. It's safe to say Gingrich would be more than "badly" weakened by a big loss there.
3. Can we stop talking about a brokered convention now? Please? Sure, it's every political reporter's dream to witness a bruising floor battle for the nomination. But the whispers and speculation over the potential for a brokered convention rise up every four years, even though it's about as likely as President Barack Obama ditching Vice President Joe Biden in favor of Hillary Clinton at this point.
Republicans haven't seen a brokered convention since 1948, when New York Gov. Thomas Dewey, U.S. Sen. Robert A. Taft of Ohio, and former Minnesota Gov. Harold Stassen squared off.
4. Is Ron Paul the only one paying attention to delegates? While the rest of the world has been focusing on which candidates have won the popular vote in the primaries, Paul supporters have quietly worked to pick up delegates from caucus states in hopes of building a bloc of support for the Republican National Convention this summer. It's a confusing process. We won't know until much later how Paul is actually doing. And no, he won't likely be the nominee. But he might land himself a prominent role at the convention.
5. Are Republicans voters still bored? The turnout so far has been described as somewhat lackluster, given the supposed fervency with which the party faithful want to defeat Obama. Keep an eye on the number of voters who show up to the polls on Super Tuesday two weeks from now in contrast to the turnout of 2008. Is there an "enthusiasm" gap between Republicans who can't seem to find a candidate to love, and Democrats who already have one? If so, the fall doesn't look pretty for the GOP.