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Southern results suggests the race goes on . . .

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:00 am - March 14, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

Had I not seen polls earlier this week showing a Mitt Romney surge in Alabama and Mississippi, I might have more closely forecast last night’s result.  It was, to be sure, a good night for Rick Santorum and a lousy one for Newt Gingrich.

Mitt Romney ran almost exactly as he has run in other Southern states, capturing, as Jay Cost put it, “roughly the same share of the vote in all four states [South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi] – something within a very narrow band of 26 percent and 30 percent of the vote.”  I would add also Tennessee where he won 28% of the vote.

Interestingly, as well as Santorum did last night; he fell short of his Tennessee tally, winning 34.5% of the vote in Alabama and 32.9% in Mississippi.  (He had snagged 37.2% in the Volunteer State.)  Romney ran a close third in both states, fewer than 3,000 vote behind Newt in the Magnolia State and fewer than 2,000 behind in the Yellowhammer State.

He did very well in urban areas, winning the metropolitan areas of Biloxi, Birmingham, Jackson, Mobile and Montgomery.  Santorum pretty much cleaned up in the rural areas.

Had Mitt managed a win in either of the two states, even by the slightest of margins, he could have pretty much ended the contest.  Santorum did what he had to do to keep the contest going.

Earlier yesterday, Jim Geraghty (in his Morning Jolt available by subscription) linked a report that the former Massachusetts governor was spending the day in the Show-Me State which caucuses this weekend:

Weeks after Santorum overwhelmed Romney in Missouri’s “beauty contest” primary, Romney campaigned in a St. Louis park Tuesday, ignoring his Republican rivals and training his rhetorical fire on President Obama. He accused the president of failing to fix the economy and allowing America’s military superiority to slip.

. . . .

His decision to skip Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday may also be an effort to lower expectations in the two states, where some polls have indicated that Romney could perform better than expected as Santorum and Newt Gingrich split the conservative vote. Romney did not mention the Alabama and Mississippi ballots during his St. Louis appearance.

Emphasis added.

Wonder if Santorum was helped by his continual attacks on “Romneycare” and wonder if Mitt was hurt by his negative ads.  If a report I had read on the Alabama campaign were true, his team is still attacking his Republican rivals.  With a successful Super Tuesday behind him, he might have been wise to make the case for his leadership rather than against his rivals.

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4 Comments

  1. Romney’s problem remains Romney; he refuses to acknowledge his liberal record. He insults people when he says RomneyCare is Conservative then refuses to discuss it any further since he cannot defend his record.

    Santorum’s success is not a surprise save for those who live outside the South.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 14, 2012 @ 10:08 am - March 14, 2012

  2. Sebastian, as per my previous post, citing Grace Marie Turner, Romney needs to confront Romneycare head-on, distinguish it from Obamacare and make clear that he will repeal the latter, saying, for example, that he would support the repeal legislation that already passed the House.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — March 14, 2012 @ 12:16 pm - March 14, 2012

  3. When Romney confronts RomneyCare he turns into a stuttering fool of mush. He can’t defend it. Romney chooses to ignore it & simply say ObamaCare will be repealed. People don’t trust Romney for this reason.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 14, 2012 @ 3:41 pm - March 14, 2012

  4. The establishment republicans are trying to make this “primary” a coranation instead. I’m old enough to remeber the establishment republicans not supporting, Goldwater, after he defeated, Rockefeller. I remember the establishment putting, Ford, against Carter instead of Reagan.

    I’m happy to have Santorum, Gingrich and Paul make this establishment package a little untidy.

    Comment by Richard Bell — March 14, 2012 @ 9:03 pm - March 14, 2012

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