Polls Show Tight Races in Alabama, Mississippi

Polls Show Tight Races in Alabama, Mississippi

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - March 12, 2012

Two new polls in Alabama and Mississippi project a close finish between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich in Tuesday's primaries.

Romney narrowly edges Gingrich, 31 percent to 30 percent, in Alabama, a Public Policy Polling (D) survey shows. Santorum, though, runs right behind with 29 percent of the support. Ron Paul garners just 8 percent.

Santorum is leading the popularity contest in the state, earning a net favorability rating of positive 32 percent. Gingrich has a net of 26 percent while Romney receives just 13 percent net.

The most conservative voters -- 45 percent of the electorate in Alabama -- are split between Santorum (37 percent) and Gingrich (31 percent). Romney attracts 24 percent from this group. But the former Massachusetts governor holds a double-digit lead among moderates, which could serve him well if conservatives split between his rivals.

Romney also has the advantage among late deciders. Thirty-eight percent of voters who decided in the last few days back Romney, while 29 percent support Santorum, and 23 percent go for Gingrich.

After winning his home state of Georgia last week, Gingrich is angling for these other Southern states to breath some life into his candidacy.

In Mississippi, he has a slight leads over Romney, 33 percent to 31 percent. Santorum garners 27 percent and Paul attracts 7 percent.

Both Gingrich and Santorum are popular in the Magnolia State: Gingrich earns a favorability rating of positive 33 percent while Santorum's net is positive 32 percent. Romney lags behind with a positive 10 percent.

But Romney can again split the conservative vote. Among those who identify as very conservative, Gingrich leads Santorum, 35 percent to 32 percent, and Romney takes just 26 percent.

Late deciders, however, aren't getting in line behind Romney in Mississippi as they are in Alabama. Those who have made up their minds in recent days back Gingrich over Santorum, 37 percent to 29 percent. Fifteen percent chose Romney.

Voters in both states cast their ballots on Tuesday.

PPP (D) surveyed 600 likely Republican primary voters in Alabama and 656 likely GOP primary voters in Mississippi from March 10-11. The sampling error in Alabama is plus or minus four percentage points and plus or minus 3.8 percentage points in Mississippi. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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