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eye of newt

What’s at Stake in Alabama and Mississippi: Not Much!

DOTHAN, AL - MARCH 10:    Republican presidential candidate, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich campaigns at the Wiregrass Museum of Art on March 10, 2012 in Dothan, Alabama.  Alabama will hold its Republican primary election on March 13. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images) Newt Gingrich loves you this much, Mississippi.

Like most things that happen in Alabama and Mississippi, the GOP primaries being held in those states tomorrow are pretty much irrelevant. Because, if we’re all being honest with ourselves, we all know, at this point, that Mitt Romney is going to to win the nomination. However, in the interest of maintaining some kind of drama in this race, we will play out one alternate scenario: If Newt Gingrich drops out, and Rick Santorum receives the majority of his support and then goes on some kind of massive electoral tear and ends up not far behind Romney in the delegate count by the time the convention rolls around, and Romney is caught on a hot mike calling Ronald Reagan, quote, “kind of a pussy,” then Santorum’s emerging from a contested convention as the party’s nominee would fall within the realm of the possible.

For any of that to happen though, Gingrich has to drop out. Now, the good Speaker has vowed that no matter what transpires in Mississippi and Alabama tomorrow, he’s staying in the race all the way to the convention. But that’s what everyone says right before they decide to quit. It’s conceivable that a couple of poor finishes in Alabama and Mississippi (for example, third place in both states) would convince him otherwise.

That could happen! The opposite — Gingrich victories in both states — could also happen! That’s how close the polls are right now. According to PPP, Gingrich leads in Mississippi by just two points over Romney (and is only six points ahead of Santorum), while in Alabama, Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum are essentially tied at 31, 30, and 29, respectively. (Ron Paul, the only candidate in the race who actually lives in the South, is once again a non-factor.)

So that’s what’s at stake tomorrow: whether the race’s/world’s most egotistical man will be finally forced to accept defeat, or whether he will be handed even more confidence to cram inside his already-bursting head. It almost certainly won’t affect the primary campaign’s ultimate outcome either way.

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Photo: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images