McCain opens big delegate lead with winner-take-all wins

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainConservative group cuts ties with Michelle Malkin Democratic debate at Tyler Perry's could miss the mark with black voters Donald Trump's 2020 election economic gamble MORE (R-Ariz.) opened a significant lead over his rivals Tuesday by claiming several of the day’s biggest winner-take all states.

McCain has won at least 326 of the 886 delegates available in the 18 states with projected results. He was declared the projected winner in California, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Arizona, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Delaware.

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Six of those states are winner-take-all contests, giving McCain a significant advantage in the delegate count. New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Arizona, Connecticut and Delaware will give 292 pledged delegates to the Arizona senator, according to an analysis by The Hill.

A large number of the delegates in California, Illinois and Oklahoma will be allocated on the basis of how the candidates fare in individual congressional districts, and those results have yet to be projected.

McCain’s chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, won six states and guaranteed himself at least 61 delegates for winning Utah and Montana ­ two winner-take-all contests. But while McCain won most of Tuesday’s winner-take-all contests, Romney won most of his contests in states that allocate their delegates proportionally.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the early part of Super Tuesday was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), who nearly matched Romney by winning five states and won at least 51 pledged delegates.  Huckabee’s big wins include his home state, West Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.

Romney and Huckabee will both see their delegate totals rise considerably, but at this stage the count is uncertain because they won most of their victories in states that apportion delegates on the basis of statewide voting percentages and individual district results.