BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The question of whether Iraq's constitution passes or fails will come down to three "swing" provinces, each of which has a majority Sunni population, but also large Shiite or Kurdish communities.
These will be the electoral battlegrounds, where Sunni Arab opponents try to get the threshold two-thirds "no" vote they want to defeat the charter.
The constitution is intended to meld Iraq's Shiite majority and its Sunni Arab and Kurdish minorities into a single nation. But the tortured negotiations that produced the draft have left many embittered, alienated and suspicious - even as Sunni-led insurgents wage a campaign of bloodshed aimed at destroying the new, U.S.-backed political order.
It is considered likely that the approximately 140-article document will pass since a majority of the nation's 27 million people support it.
Leaders of the Shiites - who make up about 60 percent of the population - are solidly in favor of it, as are Kurdish leaders.
The country's most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has even ordered Shiites to vote "yes." His word could mean a flood of voters in the mostly Shiite south - as it did in January parliament elections.
But a majority doesn't necessarily mean success. According to an interim constitution, if any three of Iraq's 18 provinces see a two-thirds "no" vote, the new charter will fail and the drafting process will start over with the election of another parliament in December.
Sunni Arab opponents are campaigning hard to make that threshold.
They will likely reach it in Anbar province, the vast western region that is the heartland of Iraq's Sunni Arabs and the insurgency. Count Anbar as one of the "no" provinces.
Crucial to watch are three other "swing" provinces: Nineveh in the northwest and Salahuddin and Diyala, north and northeast of Baghdad. Each has a Sunni Arab majority population, but also significant Shiite or Kurdish minorities.
In these electoral battlegrounds, turnout - and the type of turnout - will be critical. If Sunni Arab opponents can rally supporters to the polls, they may be able to outweigh the presumed "yes" vote from Shiites and Kurds in Nineveh, Salahuddin and Diyala.
But if Sunnis stay away - either out of apathy, disillusionment or fear of violence - the Shiite or Kurdish population could stop them short of a two-thirds "no."
Further complicating matters, the Sunni Arab vote around the country may split between "yes" and "no."
At the last minute, one Sunni party came out in support of the constitution after Shiites and Kurds agreed to amendments addressing Sunni objections and giving them the chance to try to make further changes later.
Most other Sunni parties still reject the constitution, saying the amendments are not enough. Sunni voters may be so confused they decline to vote.
Sunnis boycotted the Jan. 30 elections, but the minority's leaders have reversed their position and called for participation in the referendum to increase their political representation.My view is the constitution will just about scrape through , but will have little if any impact on bringing stability to the country