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N2K Presidential Race: Dixie Doubleheader for Santorum N2K Presidential Race: Dixie Doubleheader for Santorum

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N2K Presidential Race: Dixie Doubleheader for Santorum

Rick Santorum delivers a victory speech from Louisiana.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

March 13, 2012

Can Mitt Romney connect for a win with Deep South voters? Does Rick Santorum get his clear shot at Romney, with Newt Gingrich falling by the wayside littered with other aspirant conservative alternatives?

The answers are "sure doesn't seem so" and "more likely than ever." Santorum won Alabama and Mississippi, a Dixie doubleheader, with Gingrich on track to place second in both. Romney has now gone without a Deep South win either of his presidential campaigns. By virtue of Santorum's sustained strength, Gingrich's viability has been meted perhaps fatal blows, particularly in the eyes of the political press corps and the Republican establishment. And Santorum appears to have final claim on the anybody-but-Mitt vote.

Gingrich has thumped his chest about going forward regardless of tonight's results, but an inability to win outside the South Carolina-Georgia two state region starkly lessens his relevance in the race. And that's a gift for Santorum, visibly agitating for the one-on-one with Romney. 

The Romney camp pivoted to Hawaii and American Samoa, which both hold caucuses tonight, and its abiding delegate lead. But Tuesday's takeaway came from the mouth of the outspent, outpolled Santorum: "We did it again." 

—Jim O'Sullivan
@JOSullivanNatJo 


NATIONAL JOURNAL
S PRIMARY REPORT


DEEP SOUTH PRIMARIES

 

Santorum Wins Mississippi Primary
[National Journal, 3/13/12] In a win that seems to cement his status as the anti-Romney candidate, Rick Santorum took Mississippi, according to vote projections. Though Newt Gingrich has vowed to stay in the race, his loss of both Southern states to vote tonight deals him what could be a fatal blow.

Santorum Wins Alabama Primary  
[National Journal, 3/13/12] Before his Mississippi win, Santorum was declared the victor in Alabama, giving him an argument for staying in the race and support for critics of Gingrich who say the former House speaker should drop out.

Santorum: Voters Demand 'One-On-One' With Mitt
[Politico, 3/13/12] Though he admitted he "can't control" whether Gingrich drops out of the race, Santorum implied that he should, because, as Santorum sees it, that's what the voters want. BuzzFeed sees it that way too - they've already collected the 11 things they'll miss most when Gingrich is out of the race.

Gingrich Is in No Hurry to Bow Out
[Wall Street Journal, 3/13/12] Gingrich had been hoping for a double win in the South to give his campaign a much-needed jolt to the heart, but he fell short in both Mississippi and Alabama tonight. That certainly doesn't mean his race is over, though.

Super PAC Ads Dominate GOP Race in Alabama, Mississippi
[Bloomberg, 3/13/12] With the candidates' fundraising lagging, super PACs supplied 91 percent of the 5,592 campaign ads that ran in Alabama and Mississippi. Romney’s Restore Our Future super PAC contributed the most, airing 2,098 ads in Alabama through March 11. Restore Our Future aired 65 percent of all ads in the two states.

Polling in Deep South Has Posed Challenges
[New York Times, 3/12/12] Nate Silver writes that polls in Southern states traditionally have a bad track record: If you looked at the average of polls in Alabama in advance of the 2008 primaries, for instance, you would have predicted the wrong outcome to both the Republican and the Democratic races.

Alabama Governor Votes for Santorum  
[National Journal, 3/13/12] Though he declined to endorse any candidate prior to today’s primary election – he earlier proclaimed that he was “not excited about any of them” – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley today cast his vote for Santorum. Bentley announced his vote on the syndicated “Rick and Bubba Show," and the Santorum campaign tweeted the news.

THE RACE AHEAD

GOP Rivals Look to Louisiana as Next Red State to Woo
[USA Today, 3/13/12] Louisiana's presidential primary is still 10 days away, but as the race drags on, it's looking to be yet another Southern state with a high-stakes contest. Louisiana voters can expect to hear candidates pitch their policies on energy and the economy as they stump across the state over the next week and a half.

Romney's Overwhelming Force in Illinois  
[Politico, 3/13/12] Romney's campaign has placed a $940,000 ad buy in Illinois, which votes on March 20 and offers up 69 delegates. As the Washington Post's Dan Balz notes, Romney may be spending big in Illinois because it could be a pivotal state for the rest of the primary race.

Poll: Romney Ahead of Santorum Nationwide   
[National Journal, 3/13/12] A Bloomberg National Poll shows Romney is supported by 37 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents nationwide, compared with 27 percent for Rick Santorum, 13 percent for Newt Gingrich and 11 percent for Ron Paul.

Republican Donors in Limbo  
[Roll Call, 3/13/12] The extended Republican presidential primary has left many GOP donors paralyzed – unsure of whether to invest in the upcoming battle against President Obama or focus on congressional races.

2012 GOP Contest Shaping Up to Be Cheapest Race in Years  
[Washington Post, 3/12/12] A Washington Post analysis finds that the GOP candidates for president raised and spent approximately half as much as Republicans did in the 2008 presidential race. And even with the addition of sky-high expenditures by super PACs, Republicans spent more - without super PACs - in 2008. The weakness of the GOP field seems to be to blame for the low fundraising and spending numbers.

Caucus States Drama Far From Over
[Wall Street Journal, 3/12/12] Months after the campaigns moved on, caucus states like Iowa and Colorado are back in the spotlight. The four remaining campaigns are jockeying for advantage in these states, where delegates aren’t bound by the voters’ wishes but are instead divvied up by arcane – and rarely relevant – state convention processes.

Romney Team Sees a Plus in Gingrich’s Persistence  
[New York Times, 3/12/12] Gingrich’s resilience in the race has so far allowed Romney to dodge what he has feared most: a dominant, singular rival with the ability to unify the ranks of conservatives who have been slow to warm to the notion that Romney might become the GOP’s nominee.

Ron Paul Still Playing the Delegate Game   
[National Journal, 3/13/12] Ron Paul is still playing the delegate game going into Tuesday's four Republican contests, despite his last-place standing in the GOP field. He said Tuesday on CNBC that he is upsetting the status quo in Washington with his support from younger and independent voters.

Romney: Santorum to the Left of Me on Economy
[The Hill, 3/12/12] When asked if he’d pick a vice presidential candidate more conservative than he on the economy, Romney quipped, “Well, that would preclude Rick Santorum.”

Romney Will Pass on NCAA Tournament Predictions  
[Associated Press, 3/13/12] "I'm not plugged in well enough this year to do that," Romney told reporters of his NCAA predictions. Too bad sports fans won't be able to compare Romney's picks to then-Sen. Barack Obama's picks on the campaign trail in 2008.

American Samoa GOP Ready to Caucus - At a Bar  
[Associated Press, 3/13/12] Fifty or so Republicans will caucus in a restaurant-bar in the U.S. territory tonight, to eventually send nine delegates, plus three super delegates, to the Republican National Convention.

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