Posted at 04:42 AM ET, 03/09/2012

Who will win rural Kansas? (Friday’s Trail Mix)

OLATHE, Kansas — Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are both barnstorming the Sunflower State today ahead of Saturday’s GOP caucuses.

And the state has some factors that play in both candidates’ favor.

For Paul, who has yet to win a contest, Kansas is the latest caucus state on which he’s pinning his hopes.

And for Santorum, the state’s rural electorate could give him a big boost.

Four years ago, 44 percent of Kansas’ general election voters hailed from rural areas. That percentage is likely to be even greater in tomorrow’s GOP caucuses.

In this year’s contests, Santorum has tended to do well in the rural Midwest — in Iowa, for instance, where 50 percent of the GOP caucus electorate was from rural areas, Santorum placed first among those voters with 26 percent.

Adding an element of unpredictability is the fact that Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have both decided to largely bypass Kansas in favor of campaigning in the upcoming states of Alabama and Mississippi.

That means Santorum could, in essence, be granted his wish for a two-candidate race — though perhaps not the exact one-on-one face-off he had in mind.

Here’s a closer look at today on the trail (Courtesy of candidate schedules and the PBS NewsHour Political Calendar; all times Eastern):

9:25 a.m.: Mitt Romney holds a town hall in Jackson, Miss.

10 a.m.: Rick Santorum holds a rally in Mobile, Ala.

10:30 a.m.: Newt Gingrich holds a rally in Meridian, Miss.

12:30 p.m.: Rick Santorum holds a rally in Topeka, Kansas.

1 p.m.: Newt Gingrich holds a rally in Ellisville, Miss.

1:30 p.m.: Ron Paul holds a town hall in Topeka, Kansas.

3 p.m.: Rick Santorum holds a rally in Wichita, Kansas.

3:30 p.m.: Mitt Romney holds a campaign event in Birmingham, Ala.

4:30 p.m.: Newt Gingrich holds a rally in Gulfport, Miss.

4:30 p.m.: Ron Paul speaks at the Kansas Tea Party Convention in Wichita, Kansas.

8 p.m.: Newt Gingrich holds a rally in Mobile, Ala.

8:30 p.m.: Ron Paul holds a rally in Lawrence, Kansas.

By  |  04:42 AM ET, 03/09/2012

 
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