Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Live coverage: Primary results from Alabama and Mississippi

March 13, 2012 |  4:30 pm

Last week was Super Tuesday. This week: Deep South Tuesday.

Tuesday’s Republican primaries in Alabama and Mississippi could be a turning point in the GOP’s long battle to anoint a presidential nominee – or, depending on the results, no turning point at all.

Let’s begin with a confession of ignorance: There hasn’t been much polling in the two states, and what polling there has been hasn’t produced clear forecasts. Surveys have shown Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum closely bunched; any of the three could win.

If Romney wins in one or both states, that would be an upset and a big boost for his campaign because it would dispel the argument that he can’t attract much support in the conservative South.

If Gingrich wins in one or both states, he’ll have a good argument for staying in the race -- something he has promised to do in any case. But if Gingrich loses both Alabama and Mississippi, he’ll face more pressure from party elders and the media to get out.

And if Santorum wins both states, he’ll cement his growing status as the main conservative alternative to Romney.

On the other hand, if the Deep South primaries end up in a three-way tie, we’ll just have to march on to the next contests – in Missouri (March 17), Puerto Rico (March 18), Illinois (March 20) and Louisiana (March 24) – in search of more clarity there.

My colleagues David Horsey, Michael McGough and I will offer more comments and analysis once the returns start coming in at 5 p.m. PDT. Read our tweets below and interact with us here and on Twitter.

--Doyle McManus

ALSO: Romney and the Mormon factor

Romney's Southern strategy: Admit he's a stranger

Poll: What does Newt Gingrich need to do to stay in the race?

Photo: Natalie Collins cast her vote in the Republican presidential primary at a polling station in Gulfport, Mississippi on March 13. Credit: Dan Anderson / EPA

Comments ()