Tuesday looks like it's going to be a close election night in both Mississippi and Alabama. In Mississippi Newt Gingrich is holding on to a slight lead with 33% to 31% for Mitt Romney, 27% for Rick Santorum, and 7% for Ron Paul. And Alabama is even closer with Romney at 31% to 30% for Gingrich, 29% for Santorum, and 8% for Paul.
Gingrich and Santorum are both more popular than Romney in each of these states. In Mississippi Gingrich's net favorability is +33 (62/29) to +32 for Santorum (60/28) and +10 for Romney (51/41). It's a similar story in Alabama where Santorum's at +32 (63/31), Gingrich is at +26 (58/32), and Romney's at only +13 (53/40).
The reason Romney has a chance to win despite being less popular in both states is the split in the conservative vote. In Mississippi 44% of voters describe themselves as 'very conservative' and Romney's getting only 26% with them. But he's still in the mix because Gingrich leads Santorum only 35-32 with them. In Alabama where 45% of voters identify as 'very conservative,' Romney's at just 24%. But again he remains competitive overall because his opponents are so tightly packed with those voters, with Santorum at 37% and Gingrich at 31%.
It's not really clear who, if anyone, has the momentum in these states. In Mississippi folks who've decided in the last few days go for Gingrich over Santorum 37-29 with Romney at only 15%. But in Alabama the late deciders go 38-29 for Romney over Santorum with Gingrich at 23%.
About all we know is that Ron Paul won't win any of these states on Tuesday...the other three candidates all have a shot in both of them.
Full results here