Election Notes: Santorum Sweeps the South

Rick Santorum had a great day on Tuesday, winning the Republican primaries in both Alabama and Mississippi—a state in which no poll had shown Santorum in the lead. Newt Gingrich, whose campaign said had to win both states to in order to remain a credible candidate, came in second in both. Mitt Romney came in an embarrassing third in each, underscoring his inability to connect with Southern conservatives.


 Santorum’s victory ensures that the race will go on. But don’t be fooled. Romney has won almost twice as many delegates as Santorum. Although Romney looked like a loser on Tuesday, he still managed to win the most delegates. That’s because he won handily both in Hawaii—after most political reporters had gone to bed—and in American Samoa, where the just 70 Republican caucus-goers allotted Romney 9 delegates. Those victories show why Romney is winning. His superior organization and greater resources allow him to pick up votes in places where his opponents can't even compete. As Kris Broughton says, that makes the delegate math nearly impossible for Romney’s opponents.

Nevertheless, the long, grinding campaign is taking its toll on Romney. Every victory for his opponents feeds doubts about his electability and allows conservative opposition to him to fester. And the race against Santorum seems to be winning Romney few friends: the percent of voters who have an unfavorable impression of him has climbed almost to 50%.

Political Futures Markets

Chance President Obama will win reelection: 60.4% (Intrade)

Chance Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination: 89.0% (Intrade)

Chance that Republicans will win control of the Senate: 58.5% (Intrade)

Chance that Republicans will maintain control of the House: 69.9% (Intrade)

Polls

President Obama’s approval rating: 47.5% (Pollster)

Mitt Romney’s favorable rating: 33.6% (Pollster)

Republican advantage on a generic congressional ballot: 0.4% (Real Clear Politics)

Comment

“If you’re the front-runner and you keep coming in third, you’re not much of a front-runner.”—Newt Gingrich

UP NEXT: the Missouri caucus on Saturday, March 17, the Puerto Rico primary on Sunday, March 18, and the Illinois primary on Tuesday, March 20

Rick and Ann Santorum image from Gage Skidmore

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