In the biggest prize among November's swing states, the latest Rasmussen poll of likely voters shows Rick Santorum faring slightly better than Mitt Romney versus President Obama. In Florida, Santorum trails Obama by 2 percentage points (45 to 43 percent), while Romney trails Obama by 3 points (46 to 43 percent). Florida, by far the largest swing state, now has as many electoral votes as the state of New York (29).
With the Alabama and Mississippi primaries now complete, and with the Hawaii caucuses counted, more than half of the states (accounting for 41 percent of the delegates) are now in the books in the Republican presidential race. Through these first 26 states, Mitt Romney has won 52.7 percent (496 of 942) of the available delegates, a shade over the 50 percent rate he must eclipse in order to secure a majority of the delegates (1,144 of 2,286) before the GOP convention.
Rick Santorum won two surprise victories last night in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, and he did so by poaching voters from Newt Gingrich’s coalition. To appreciate this, let’s take a look at some data.
First, the topline numbers in the four Deep Southern states that have voted so far.
“Senator Santorum is at the desperate end of his campaign,” Mitt Romney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday. Oops. For weeks, Team Romney and many of its allies have been eager—one might even say desperate—to end this campaign. The Republican primary electorate has been resisting this, and the voters in Alabama and Mississippi engaged in massive resistance yesterday, giving Romney less than a third of their votes.
Today is a relatively big day in the GOP nomination battle -- with caucuses in American Samoa and Hawaii and primaries in Alabama and Mississippi. The main story is in the South, though. And although this Southern Super Tuesday has relatively few delegates at stake – just 84 are up for grabs between the Alabama and Mississippi primaries – it will likely attract a good deal of attention. It will also offer something we have not yet seen: a roughly equal three-way battle between Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.