Gingrich’s Last Stand?
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.
- Gingrich Has Momentum in Alabama(politicalwire.com)
- Sunday Discussion: AL and MS Primaries(youngsblog.com)
- Mississippi polling: Gingrich up 4 in ARG, Romney up 8 in Rasmussen(hotair.com)
- Gingrich Again Says He Isn’t Quitting Race(blogs.wsj.com)
- Southern scramble: Alabama, Mississippi too close to call, according to new PPP survey(dailykos.com)
- Too Close to Call in Alabama and Mississippi(politicalwire.com)
- A Southern victory for Mitt Romney? Tuesday could be the charm. (+video) — Christian Science Monitor(csmonitor.com)
- Alabama primary: Gingrich or Santorum?(ask.metafilter.com)
- Poll puts Romney in front seat — Irish Times(irishtimes.com)
- Poll: Romney moves up in Mississippi(politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Romney, Gingrich and Santorum Battle in South(usnews.com)
- Southern primaries preview: Romney lead puts pressure on Gingrich, Santorum — Christian Science Monitor(csmonitor.com)
- Gingrich fights to stay in race as polls show rivals neck-and-neck in south(guardian.co.uk)
- Gingrich Has Campaigned the Most in Alabama, Mississippi(politicalwire.com)
- Mitt Romney edges Obama in poll on eve of Alabama, Mississippi primaries(csmonitor.com)
- Gingrich, Romney, Santorum visit Mississippi, vie for hotly contested Southern delegates(dylanmclemore.com)