Deep South Tuesday.

 
So despite polls predicting that Santorum stood no chance, and foreseeing Romney potentially wrapping things up last night, Rick only went and grabbed both Deep South states. Reaction round-up below.

Silver:

[T]hese were the sort of states that Mr. Romney was “supposed” to lose based on their demographics. Although the polls overestimated Mr. Romney’s standing, projections based on demographic models did reasonably well.

Mr. Romney will not have such excuses, however, if he loses Illinois, which votes a week from today. It’s the only contest that evening and Mr. Romney is thought to be the favorite there, although polls and my demographic model show a fairly tight race.

Mr. Romney will have a significant lead in delegates even if he loses Illinois. But a loss there would be more characteristic of those scenarios where he falls short of a delegate majority and needs help from super delegates and other unpledged delegates to win the nomination.

Sullivan:

If this were a race between [Romney] and Santorum, he would have been wiped out tonight. The pressure on Gingrich to quit will be intense, but if Adelson wants to keep financing him, his own ego would rather rip his own party apart than concede to allow a final fight for victory between Mitt and Rick.

So the odds of a brokered convention rise slightly; Romney remains unable to get any serious momentum; and Santorum keeps winning the vote of those earning under $50k. The evangelical vote against Romney remains solid, unchanging, resilient. The dynamic of the race has not altered; it has complicated marginally in Santorum’s direction.

PM Carpenter thinks Gingrich needs to stay in to keep the field muddy:

A two-man race could quite quickly reduce to a one-man blowout. This could be accomplished by either Romney or Santorum; either candidate could acquire the Big Mo in reasonably short order, since the GOP base is by now finding this elimination process a rather tedious one.

Cassidy suggests next week is now crucial:

If Romney were to lose Illinois, where his lead over Santorum is just four points, according to a Chicago Tribune poll that was published late last week, all hell would break lose. In Florida and Michigan and Ohio, Romney held the line against the conservative insurgency. Now he has to do it all over again. If he doesn’t manage it this time, Gingrich won’t be the only one talking about a brokered convention. A Santorum victory in Illinois would upend all the reassuring calculations about Romney eventually accumulating the thousand one hundred and forty-four delegates he needs for the nomination.

Bernstein plays safe:

The Republican race remained Tuesday night where it’s been for a while now: Mitt Romney has locked up the nomination pending some unexpected jolt, but he can’t quite generate enough momentum to knock out Rick Santorum and therefore move on to the general election campaign.

Kornacki hypothesises the doomsday scenario:

We may be arriving at the moment Romney and his campaign have feared for the entire campaign, when they can no longer benefit from a split conservative vote. Gingrich gave no hint in his speech last night that he’ll leave the race anytime soon. But he may be eliminated organically, if conservatives conclude that he’s exhausted his viability and that they’re better off lining up with Santorum. It might not matter if Gingrich presses ahead; if his support evaporates, Santorum will get his one-on-one race anyway.

Frum wonders:

Is Rick Santorum really the place where they want to place their hopes? The Santorum candidacy pushes Republicans toward an election in which the issues are religious, cultural, and sexual, not economic. It’s a candidacy that pushes the party away from metropolitan areas, away from areas of growing population, and rebases the party everywhere that is not dynamic, not growing. The concerns of hard-pressed America are deeply worthy of attention and respect. They call for responses and solutions. That’s not what a Santorum candidacy offers.

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