Today is do or die for for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich. Alabama and Mis­sis­sippi have their open pri­maries today, and the Newt has to win both states to keep his cam­paign alive. His plan is to win these two states, plus Texas, and thus put him on equal foot­ing with for­mer Sen­a­tor Rick San­to­rum (R-​​PA).

How do his prospects look? We’ll take a look in a moment. But first, the two caucuses.

Hawaii, Amer­i­can Samoa

Nei­ther of these are really in doubt. Rom­ney should walk away with wins in both places, with­out break­ing a sweat.

And now, the two primaries.


Alabama has been pretty lightly polled, but two of the three polls from the past week show Gin­grich up by a point. What’s strange is that the two polls have dif­fer­ent runner-​​ups. Alabama State University’s poll, cov­er­ing March 5–8, puts for­mer Mass­a­chu­setts Gov­er­nor Mitt Rom­ney in sec­ond, while Rasmussen’s poll, cov­er­ing only March 8, has San­to­rum in sec­ond. The third poll, con­ducted over the week­end by Pub­lic Pol­icy Polling, gives Rom­ney the lead, again by only a point, over Gin­grich, who is a point ahead of Santorum.

Because of the incon­sis­tent find­ings, and the gen­er­ally poor his­tory of polls pre­dict­ing the out­come in the South (as a recent 538​.com explains), the Heart of Dixie is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to be a tossup. Intraders are more con­fi­dent of a Gin­grich vic­tory, giv­ing the for­mer Speaker a 59 per­cent chance of victory.

Romney’s attempts to fit in have fallen as flat here as they have in so many other parts of the coun­try. That can’t be help­ing him today. Gin­grich is a con­vinc­ing South­erner, of course, but with­out the degree of con­sis­tency in con­ser­vatism that so many in Dixie demand today. For­mer Penn­syl­va­nia Sen­a­tor San­to­rum has the more com­pelling con­ser­v­a­tive cre­den­tials, albeit tem­pered with the stink of Yan­kee. Louisianan James Carville famously said, “Penn­syl­va­nia is Philadel­phia and Pitts­burgh with Alabama in between.” Actual Alaba­mans are unlikely to share that sentiment.

It will be most inter­est­ing to see how the results wind up here.


There are three recent polls in the Mag­no­lia State as well. ARG ran a two-​​day poll from March 7–8, and found Gin­grich in the lead by four points over Rom­ney, with San­to­rum an addi­tional 11 points down. Rasmussen’s poll from last Thurs­day gives Rom­ney the edge, by eight points, fol­lowed by San­to­rum and Gin­grich tied for sec­ond. Pub­lic Policy’s poll, run over the week­end, gives Gin­grich a two point lead over Rom­ney, who is four over San­to­rum. Intraders seem to favor the ARG and PPP view­points; they’ve pro­jected Gin­grich to have a 56 per­cent chance of tak­ing Mis­sis­sippi, with Rom­ney in sec­ond at 30 per­cent, and San­to­rum at 12.

Two things are clear. First, it’s mighty hard to pre­dict the win­ners in these two states. Sec­ond, it’s mighty hard to find a path to nom­i­na­tion for any­one other than Rom­ney. Even if he loses both states, he’s not likely to get less than 20 per­cent in either state, so he’ll still pick up a decent num­ber of del­e­gates from both. Given that he cur­rently has over half of the del­e­gates from the past states, and the big winner-​​take-​​all states ahead are almost guar­an­teed to be Rom­ney wins, there’s lit­tle hope for any other can­di­date to be suc­cess­ful, short of forc­ing a con­tested convention.