After losing both Alabama and Mississippi last night it seems Newt Gingrich really has no legitimate path forward. His Southern strategy was proven to be a total failure, and he has only managed to win two states. The only thing Gingrich’s continued presence in the race is doing is to be a spoiler for Rick Santorum.
According to PPP Romney would win North Carolina by four points if Gingrich stays in the race. But Romney would lose that state to Rick Santorum by four points if Gingrich dropped out. From PPP:
North Carolina provides a great example of the spoiler role Newt Gingrich is now playing in the Republican Presidential race. With Gingrich in the field a split conservative vote allows Mitt Romney to lead in the state with 31% to 27% for Rick Santorum, 24% for Gingrich, and 8% for Ron Paul. But if Gingrich was out of the picture most of his support would go to Santorum, giving last night’s big winner 42% to 38% for Romney and 10% for Paul.
Digging in on the numbers with some key groups shows how the conservative split aids Romney. Among Tea Party voters Santorum gets 31% to 30% for Gingrich and 25% for Romney. Take Gingrich out and Santorum’s advantage with those folks is 52-37. Similar story with Evangelicals- full field it’s Santorum at 31% t0 28% for Romney and 26% for Gingrich. Take Gingrich out and Santorum’s advantage with that group is 49/33. And with ‘very conservative’ voters Santorum’s at 35% to 28% for Gingrich and 23% for Romney full field, but up 57-28 on Romney if Gingrich was out of the race.
Looking at polling and demographic data I assume we would see a similar impact from Gingrich dropping out in most of the other remaining states. Not all Gingrich supporters would move to Santorum, but enough would to allow Santorum to perform noticeably better. There is an identifiable anti-Romney vote out there that Gingrich and Santorum are currently splitting.
At this point it seems Gingrich and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who almost single handedly has kept Gingrich’s campaign afloat with millions in Super PAC donations, are Romney’s best friends in the GOP primary.