Presidential primary elections and caucuses are under way in 10 U.S. states. Public opinion polls suggest Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, could sweep all 10 states, virtually assuring his nomination as the Democratic candidate. The day could also be key for the future of North Carolina Senator John Edwards, Mr. Kerry's closest challenger.
John Kerry is favored in all ten states holding voter preference polls Tuesday, the biggest one-day contest of the presidential race so far. More than half of all the delegates needed to secure the Democratic presidential nomination are at stake, with the most delegates in New York and California.
Senator Kerry is so confident of victory that he is not even focusing on challenger John Edwards and is instead looking ahead to facing President Bush in November. On Monday he spoke to supporters in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the states where primaries or caucuses are under way. "I've come here tonight not just to celebrate the eve before Super Tuesday but to mark the beginning of the end of the Bush presidency," he said.
Georgia is a state where polls suggest southerner John Edwards may have his strongest chance of turning back the Kerry momentum. Senator Edwards has won only a single state primary so far and acknowledges the outcome of Super Tuesday voting could determine whether he remains in the presidential race. "At some point, I've got to start getting more delegates or I'm not going to be the nominee. But I intend to be in this through to the end," he said.
In fact, analysts say if the polls prove accurate, Senator Kerry will have all but locked up the Democratic presidential nomination by the time the last polls close in California.
University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said "Edwards' campaign is over whether he likes it or not. His instinct is to fight it out to the bloody end. Maybe that also comes from the courtroom since he's a very successful trial lawyer."
Aides to Senator Edwards say he wants to remain in the race at least through March 9. They believe he can stop Senator Kerry when several states in his native south hold primaries.
Also taking part in Tuesday's contests are Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich and civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, both of whom are barely registering in the polls and are not expected to win any Super Tuesday states.