It’s been pretty widely assumed that the March 13 primaries in Alabama and Mississippi would be races between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
Gingrich has specifically targeted the two states, and has shied away from Saturday’s contest in Kansas, and Santorum has made it clear he’d like to beat Gingrich in the two states in the hopes of driving him from the race or at least from the public’s attention.
Both counted on the apparent aversion of Southern voters for Mitt Romney, who in second place finishes won just 28% of the vote in South Carolina, Tennessee and Oklahoma and 26% in Georgia. Even as he was winning in Florida with 46% and Virginia (against only Ron Paul) with 60%, he ran below his statewide average in Southern-accented portions of those states.
And he has been running below his statwide averages among white evangelical voters, who make up large majorities of the Alabama and Mississippi Republican electorates.