CNN exit polls are projecting two tight three-way races in Alabama and Mississippi.
Even more interesting, the % of Republican voters who call themselves Evangelicals is 74% in Alabama and 81% (!) in Mississippi. Those two figures are the highest anywhere this year.
If Mitt Romney can win either of these two states tonight, he’ll take a HUGE step toward closing the deal.
Update: According to the “first wave” of CNN exit poll data, Romney is winning support along familiar lines: He’s doing best with upper income voters, moderates, older voters and those most interested in “electability.”
There isn’t much “crossover” voting in either state: Democrats are only 4% of the vote in Mississippi and 6% in Alabama. That’s partly because most conservatives left the Democratic Party years ago in these two states. (Carter in 1976 was the last Democrat to carry them).
Santorum and Gingrich are doing best with the most conservative and middle class Republicans.
Update: Biloxi is completely in and the Jackson area is 80% in. Mississippi looks like it’s gone for Romney and is a two-man race between Rick and Newt.
Romney still has an outside shot in Alabama because Birmingham and Mobile are still out.
Santorum and Newt are splitting the rural areas in both states — as expected.
Update: It looks like Mitt Romney might lose both Southern states tonight. But even if he finishes a close second or third in the Deep South, he still could get the most delegates because he’ll likely win the Hawaaii Caucuses big. No matter what, he’ll remain the big leader in total delegates.
Update: CNN calls Alabama for Santorum — and all that for a Penn State grad too! What would Bear Bryant think?