Rick Santorum wins Alabama, Mississippi primaries

March 13, 2012

Rick Santorum had a lot to lose in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries. He has been trying to extend his campaign run and knock out Newt Gingrich — his chief rival to the title of “conservative alternative” to front-runner Mitt Romney.

With a win in both of these states, the Santorum campaign gets a major momentum boost and could force Newt Gingrich to confront the question of whether his campaign should continue. If Gingrich were to drop out of the race, Santorum could be further bolstered in the remaining state contests against Romney.

The win was a bit of a surprise based on earlier polls that showed Santorum running third in both Alabama and Mississippi, but he got the support of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday and a last-minute endorsement from Mississippi Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R).

As the Post’s Amy Gardner and David A. Fahrenthold report in their story:

The outcome of the Mississippi and Alabama primaries is not likely to change the basic math of the GOP race: both former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former House speaker Newt Gingrich trail former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney by more than 200 delegates. The two states will only award 90 delegates between them, and those are likely to be split up among the candidates.

But the two Dixie primaries could still alter the balance of momentum.

The latest polls have shown a close race in both states between Romney and Gingrich, with Santorum trailing behind. Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the fourth major candidate in the GOP race, has done little to contest Mississippi and Alabama, and polls showed him even further back.

More from PostPolitics

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Illinois primary could help Romney stake his claim

Santorum hopes ideology trumps electability

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