Rick Santorum pulled off a pair of surprises, winning both Alabama and Mississippi. Newt Gingrich had staked his campaign on winning across the south and then winning Texas in late May. That strategy is shattered, and the math is firmly against Gingrich ever earning enough delegates to win the GOP nomination.
Santorum’s victories in both Alabama and Mississippi show that he is gaining strength across the south at Gingrich’s direct expense. Ron Paul was not a factor in either race. But both primaries were sufficiently close among the top three candidates that, in the proportional way that the states’ delegates will be awarded, Mitt Romney will retain his overall delegate lead. Thanks to his superior organization across the board, Romney had already captured all of Guam’s 9 delegates and looks likely to capture the lion’s share of Hawaii’s 20 delegates and American Samoa’s 9. That adds up to 38 delegates. There were 90 delegates at stake in Mississippi and Alabama combined, and they will be split into roughly equal pies with Santorum picking up an extra few. Those won’t be enough to put him close to overtaking Romney.
Rick Santorum picks up genuine bragging rights by winning four southern states — Oklahoma, Tennessee and now Alabama and Mississippi. The calls from Santorum backers for Newt Gingrich to exit and give their candidate a clean shot at Romney will get louder. But Gingrich is not likely to respond to them any time soon. So the race continues.