Rick Santorum was the big winner last night, winning both the 2012 Alabama and Mississippi primaries. The election results showed a close fought battle in both Dixie states. In Alabama, Santorum won with 34.5%, with Newt Gingrich in second with 29.3%, Mitt Romney in a close third with 29% and Ron Paul last with 5%. The Mississippi primary results had Santorum winning with 32.9%, Gingrich in 2nd with 31.3%, Romney again in 3rd with 30.3% and Paul still in last place with just 4.4% of the vote. Romney had a better time in Hawaii where he easily won with 45.4%, Santorum in second with 25.3%, Paul in 3rd with 18.3% and Gingrich with just 11%. The percentages for the caucus in American Samoa have yet to be reported, but Romney is expected to win there as well, given only 70 Republicans actually caucused. Have to wonder why Samoa gets 9 convention delegates with just 70 Republicans who cannot even vote in the November election?

santorum sweeps south

The bottom line from last night is this. First, Romney is still showing a general weakness among some categories of GOP voters. Santorum, while stronger than Gingrich in some ways, is also lacking in other ways. For example, in Mississippi, the exit poll showed that 46% of Republican voters thought Romney more capable of defeating Barack Obama in November. Gingrich came in second at 30% while Santorum finished third with just 22%. Among Romney supporters, about 41% still had reservations about him. Only 11% think Mitt is ′Conservative enough′, 52% don′t think he is.

The rumor mill is all a-buzz this morning with stories from Boston that the Romney campaign may be facing a shake-up in personnel. That some managers and staff will be dismissed as the campaign shifts its focus from winning primaries to cajoling uncommitted delegates available. In the Gingrich camp, they are bracing for the usual round of ′why bother?′ and ′time-to-go′ talk from pundits and the Liberal Media. While it is now virtually impossible for Newt to win the nomination before the convention, his role as a spoiler to stop Romney is still a valid one.

The argument that Santorum would do better against Romney without Gingrich in the race has yet to be proven. While conventional logic would deem that most of Newt′s supporters would flock to Rick, that may not necessarily be the case. The ′Nutty for Newty′ crowd is not as committed as ′Rick′s Crusaders′ to making social issues the main focus of the race. Also, having Newt still active gives Republican voters a ′spare Conservative′ should Santorum falter along the way. Plus, it forces Romney to fight a two-front war, which is usually a bad thing. Then there is the whole ′vision thing′, which is an aspect that both Romney and Santorum are lacking in.

Still, last night was a good one for Rick Santorum as he won narrow victories in both the Alabama and Mississippi primaries. But with Romney winning the caucuses in Hawaii and Samoa, Mitt will actually come out a head by a few delegates from yesterday′s contests. Newt Gingrich will continue to plod along causing trouble where ever he can. Ron Paul seems to be just drifting at this point. Even his die-hard supporters have become less active on the Internet. The question of who will face Barack Obama remains unsettled and may not be until the Republican National Convention in August.