It looks like it could be a late night tomorrow with Republican primaries taking place in Mississippi, Alabama, and Hawaii. The latest polling from PPP shows both Mississippi and Alabama extremely close. In Mississippi Newt Gingrich leads Mitt Romney by only two points; in Alabama it is nearly a three way tie with Gingrich, Romney and Santorum separated by just two points. From PPP:
Tuesday looks like it’s going to be a close election night in both Mississippi and Alabama. In Mississippi Newt Gingrich is holding on to a slight lead with 33% to 31% for Mitt Romney, 27% for Rick Santorum, and 7% for Ron Paul. And Alabama is even closer with Romney at 31% to 30% for Gingrich, 29% for Santorum, and 8% for Paul.
Gingrich and Santorum are both more popular than Romney in each of these states. In Mississippi Gingrich’s net favorability is +33 (62/29) to +32 for Santorum (60/28) and +10 for Romney (51/41). It’s a similar story in Alabama where Santorum’s at +32 (63/31), Gingrich is at +26 (58/32), and Romney’s at only +13 (53/40).
The divided field continues to be the big saving grace for the Romney campaign. Mitt Romney has a serious weakness in the South and the Great Plains states. But as long as Gingrich and Santorum split the very conservative vote, no one can gain a significant number of delegates on Romney; Romney might even pull off a small plurality victory.
If either Gingrich or Santorum were to drop out, Romney might experience some real trouble in the South. With both of them still in it, Romney can afford to do just mediocre in the region while racking up his delegate lead, thanks to his strength in the West and North East. Since it seems very unlikely that Gingrich or Santorum will drop out, Romney has a clear but slow and brutal path to the nomination.