Earlier today, I had planned a post, forecasting a split decision tomorrow in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, with Newt Gingrich winning the former and Rick Santorum the latter. I based this forecast on my reading of recent polls and the candidates’ performances in the recent contests in Southern (and Southern-adjacent) states.
In his native Georgia, Newt did well in rural areas, but Mitt Romney won metro Atlanta as he won the Nashville area in Tennessee and Oklahoma City in the Sooner State. Santorum beat the polling spread in Tennessee (by a considerable margin), yet didn’t match it Oklahoma. The RealClearPolitics average has Romney up narrowly over Gingrich (by 0.2) and more comfortably over Santorum in Alabama and would have him up in Missisippi had they done the average of the most recent polls–but they include only two such surveys.
The mostly dispassionate analyst Nate Silver acknowledge “that polls in these states have a pretty awful track record“; he also notes “some tendency for polls in the Deep South to understate the standing of Southern candidates, but it is not statistically significant.” His blog projects a different split decision from the one I posited: