Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s convincing victory in his home state of Georgia — the race was called shortly after polls closed in the Peach State at 7 p.m. eastern time — means one thing: He will now likely emerge as the Southern candidate in the field.

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Huntsville, Ala. Gingrich has won the Georgia Republican primary. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In winning, Gingrich now sets himself up to run as a Southern, regional candidate. He won South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21 and now will likely be considered the favorite in Alabama and Mississippi — both of which are set to vote next Tuesday.

(Worth noting: Gingrich is not expected to win Tennessee, a southern state that voted today.)

What those wins — if he can make good on them — will do is to give Gingrich a block of Southern delegates that could well allow him some bargaining power with the eventual nominee.

It’s still difficult to see a path for Gingrich to the 1,100- plus delegates he would need to be the Republican nominee is his own right.