The most votes won't necessarily mean the most delegates for the winner of the Massachusetts Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday. Nearly half of the 116 seats for the commonwealth's delegates to the party's nominating convention in July will be filled by state Democratic leaders - not by the voters. And most of this second segment of the Massachusetts delegate-selection process won't come for another three months.
The arrangement for picking national convention delegates varies from state to state. But, like Massachusetts, several states have provisions for broadening the delegate base, a result of Democratic Party rules reforms after the 1980 presidential campaign.
The Super Tuesday balloting will divide 68 delegate seats among the five White House hopefuls. But the election results may have some impact on the leanings of the 48 other delegates.
To continue the momentum Gary Hart gained by victories in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, he may need a decisive win in the Bay State.
Walter F. Mondale, unless he were to lose here by a wide margin, appears to have less riding on the primary in terms of his ultimate strength within the Massachusetts delegation.
Mr. Mondale already has six Massachusetts delegates committed to his nomination. They are six of the state's congressmen - including US Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. - who were chosen by their Democratic colleagues in the House.
While all are free to shift their support, there is nothing to suggest they will do so unless Mondale drops out or loses any chance of becoming the party's standard-bearer.
US Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts, one of these Mondale delegates, has reaffirmed his loyalty and says he expects the former vice-president will win the nomination.
Besides the six congressmen and the 68 delegates to be chosen on basis of primary results, 19 elected Democratic Party officials will be selected at a June 9 state party convention in Worcester, and 23 will be picked the next day by the Democratic State Committee.
The 23, comprising party activists, are to be selected to ensure that the Massachusetts delegation is in compliance with new Democratic National Committee rules. All state delegations must have an equal number of men and women, and the Bay State must have at least eight representatives of ethnic minorities - four blacks, two Hispanics, one Asian-American, and one native American.
Mondale has picked up the endorsements of many prominent Massachusetts Democrats - support that may help him land the lion's share of the delegates to be chosen at the state convention and the state committee. In particular, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis has been actively campaigning for the Mondale candidacy.
Senator Hart, on the other hand, has no Bay State Democratic heavyweights to give his candidacy a push. US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy continues to remain neutral and is not likely to choose sides before the national convention.
The 68 delegates at stake on Tuesday will be apportioned to the candidates, according to their proportional strength within each congressional district. Nine of the 11 districts have six delegates; two have seven delegates. Super Tuesday states convention delegate votes.
PLEDGED UNPLEDGED TOTAL Alabama 52 10 62 Florida 123 20 143 Georgia 70 14 84 Hawaii 19 8 27 Massachusetts 100 16 116 Nevada 15 5 20 Oklahoma 43 10 53 Rhode Island 22 5 27 Washington 61 9 70 TOTALS 505 97 602