There is about a two-thirds chance of Mitt Romney not losing in today's Mississippi and Alabama primaries.
If Newt Gingrich wins, Romney still doesn't lose, because Gingrich probably can't win outside the South. If Romney wins, it would be significant. I’m from Alabama, and no Mormon from Massachusetts — perceived as the most moderate candidate — has ever won a Republican primary there. Even if Romney finishes third it won't be crippling. He was never supposed to do well in Dixie.
If Rick Santorum wins, then Romney would lose the day, but even then he would still be considered the likely GOP nominee. But a loss for Santorum would suggest he has suffered as voters have gotten to know him better.
Obviously there are other possible outcomes since the two states won't necessarily vote the same way. Alabama and Mississippi Republicans are similar but not identical.
Nobody planned on the race staying competitive this long, so no one has a clue. I would bet the undecided vote is still high so the polls are unreliable. It should be a late night.
P.S. — Romney and Santorum should have called me, a proud Alabaman and an Alabama voter, for some consultations before campaigning in Dixie.
As a free added feature to The Insiders, I will offer occasional observations about American Southern culture, including tips on Southern dialect. A few things that would have been useful for them include:
1. "Roll Tide" is often used as a casual greeting and as a polite farewell. It is pronounced: "Ro·Ti'de" and is spoken with almost no lip movement.
2. “Ig·no·rant” (Be careful how you use this word. Upon hearing it, a Southerner may instantly think, "Is he talkin' 'bout us?") is pronounced "ig·ner'nt," and Obama is often pronounced "Oh·bomb·er," as in "Them Demcrats and Oh Bomber sure is igner'nt." This sentence would have been a great applause line for either Romney or Santorum.
3. And finally the No. 1 faux pas every carpetbagger should avoid: “Y’all" is always plural, never singular.
Anyway, too late now, but this is still useful information to file away.