Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, Florida and Maine all precede it. But there's little doubt that this year's Super Duper Tuesday is make or break.
For the Democrats, it's a chance to pick up delegates in 22 different States.
For Republicans, 21 states are up for grabs. (Well, technically 20 and 2/3, considering that West Virginia is only holding a caucus to settle 2/3 of its GOP delegates. The remaining third have to wait until a Primary on May 13th.)
Given the unprecedented number of states voting on Feburary 5th, we asked NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd (who heads up the must read "First Read" blog) what the major candidates both expect and need to win on Super Tuesday. He shared a little of his analysis with us on Countdown Thursday night, but we couldn't get to everything. So, with the huge caveats that this could all change within any given day, hour or minute, and that it's OUR analysis alone, here's the rest.
IF Hillary Clinton wins Nevada and Barack Obama wins South Carolina (we know, we know, it's a big if), this is how it might shake out on Super Tuesday.
The Clinton campaign would need to win their "base" states. Mainly states that are either in the northeast or that only let Democrats vote.
Barack Obama would likewise to secure HIS base states. Mainly states in the south, or that let independents vote.
Of course, base states alone aren't enough to propel either campaign into the front-runner seat.
Chuck Todd points out that Clinton will probably try to take away Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee away from Obama.
And that Obama will be wooing voters in Arizona, Colorado and Arkansas away from Clinton.
But for both candidates, three specific states are proving pivotal on Super Tuesday.
Massachusetts, Georgia and California.
So if a candidate gets California, plus one of either Georgia or Massachussetts, they pretty much own Super Tuesday.
As for John Edwards, Chuck Todd points out that he really needs to win South Carolina to stay in the running. But if he DOES win that, then he'll be looking to win southern base states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma.
Now to the Republicans.
It's really too early to speculate what each candidate needs to accomplish on Super Tuesday. Because, as Chuck Todd pointed out in his excellent First Thoughts post on Thursday morning, all of them desperately need a win BEFORE February 5th.
Mike Huckabee needs to win South Carolina. Mitt Romney needs to win Michigan. John McCain needs South Carolina or Michigan (not to mention his neighbor, Nevada). Rudy Giuliani needs Florida.
Then it's onto Super Tuesday. And, like the Democrats, three swing states look like the key to victory.
Illinois, Missouri and... California.
So whether you be Democrat or Republican, the fate of your candidate could rest in California.
Or somewhere else.
Or not at all.
As we said, it could all change in an instant. Which is a good part of what keeps it all so interesting!