Super Tuesday? Not in Virginia.

With a weird ballot situation, the battleground state's primary is virtually decided.

By + More

Super Tuesday is expected to be anything but super in Virginia thanks to strict primary rules that kept Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum off the ballot in the state.

Add in the fact that Mitt Romney is expected to whomp his sole rival Ron Paul—current estimates give Romney as much as a 49-point lead over Paul—and most observers say there won't be much to watch for in Virginia's primary.

That's a big problem according to some experts, especially given Virginia's role as a battleground and swing state. Virginia went blue in 2008 but has since swung back, electing a Republican governor and a more conservative state general assembly.

[See today's best photos.]

"Virginia is one of those states that's becoming a bellwether," says Jen Thompson, assistant professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University. But because Romney is so heavily favored to win the state, neither he nor Paul has spent much time campaigning there, which means the state hasn't be able to fulfill that bellwether role, she adds.

That's been especially true since the state assembly debated a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before an abortion—an issue that gained national attention.

"It seems important to a lot of Virginian voters that the nominee take a position on some of these issues," Thompson says. "We're not having a full debate on the issues that are important to Virginians."

That could keep a lot of Virginians away from the polls on Tuesday. Although primaries generally don't boast big turnout numbers, due to the unique ballot situation, turnout could be even lower than usual, Thompson says.

[Read: Romney Still Digging For Delegates in the Deep South.]

"I would use the word anger," Thompson says, describing the reaction of some voters Tuesday who might not be able to vote for the candidate they support. "There are only two candidates on the ballot and they're not the top two candidates. Those voters who are very strong Gingrich or Santorum supporters can't vote and are they just going to vote for Romney who they might not support?"

The bottom line is that even as Virginia is becoming a more politically important state, with only two candidates on the ballot, the results of Tuesday's primary won't hold much weight in the broader discussion of which candidate is best suited to go up against President Obama in November.

"Really the outcome on Tuesday isn't going to mean much," Thompson says. "One of the reasons primaries are so important is because they give candidates the opportunity to make their case state by state," which hasn't really happened in Virginia, she says. "Both voters and Virginia as a state have been disempowered."

Still, Virginia's 49 delegates are one of Tuesday's biggest hauls, and with Romney's projected lead, he's almost certain to coast to a landslide victory.

mhandley@usnews.com

Twitter: @mmhandley

  • See the 10 best cities to find a job.
  • Check out Ohio Voters Struggle in the Tough Economy.
  • Follow U.S. News Debate Club on Twitter.