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2012: Math vs. perception

“Rick Santorum won Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, but he didn’t gain any ground in the race for delegates against frontrunner Mitt Romney,” the AP writes. “Romney wiped out Santorum’s gains by winning caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa Tuesday.”

“The plodding Republican presidential nomination fight is grinding forward toward Puerto Rico -- and a two-man race, with Rick Santorum ascendant and Mitt Romney vanquished in the Deep South,” the AP’s Hunt adds. “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the former Georgia lawmaker whose Southern strategy stalled, was all but relegated to an asterisk in the contest even as he vowed to stay in it.”

GINGRICH: “Even as pressure mounts on Newt Gingrich to drop out of the Republican presidential contest, the former House speaker is preparing to stick it out—with a new short-term goal of keeping Mitt Romney from securing the nomination,” the Wall Street Journal says.

The Boston Globe’s Johnson: “With back-to-back losses in the Deep South Tuesday night, Newt Gingrich suffered a third defeat: He lost any of the remaining logic behind his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.”

Bloomberg/Business Week: “Rick Santorum’s wins in Mississippi and Alabama may have done more damage to Newt Gingrich than to front-runner Mitt Romney. Santorum affirmed his status last night as Romney’s main challenger….”

NPR’s Ron Elving: “It is time for the much-winnowed field of Republican presidential contenders to shrink a little further. It is time for Newt Gingrich to bid adieu and wrap up his bid for the nomination.”

Byron York: “With losses in Alabama and Mississippi, Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign has changed.  In the past, the campaign was about winning, or trying to win, or at least claiming to be trying to win.  Now, it's about keeping Mitt Romney from winning.” And: “None of [Gingrich’s logic] will stop Republicans from calling on Gingrich to get out of the race. After Tuesday's results were clear, the prominent conservative PR man Keith Appell sent out an email saying Gingrich had ‘given it a great run,’ but that Santorum ‘has earned a mano-a-mano shot at Mitt Romney.’ … [T]he Washington establishment, or more accurately the East Coast establishment, is about to declare Gingrich dead.”

ROMNEY: AP’s Peoples: “Mitt Romney's losses in Alabama and Mississippi underscore a stark reality: The core of his party does not want him.” 

The Honolulu Star Advertiser: “Hawaii Republicans side with Romney.”

Did you know that American Samoa is 25% Mormon? Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins wrote about this a few days ago: "[T]here are more Latter-Day Saints per capita in American Samoa than almost any other country or territory in the world, according to statistics published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. … it seems clear the Romney campaign has connected the dots. At a strategy briefing earlier this week in Boston, an aide specifically cited the South Pacific as a place where they expected their candidate to perform well. The Mormon Church first sent missionaries to the region in 1843, just 13 years after it was organized. A century later, LDS chapels dotted the islands, and American Samoa was home to a rapidly expanding congregation — infusing the territory's culture with distinctly Mormon (and American) practices. In 1938, for example, the church organized the island's first Boy Scout troop. But the cultural exchange has gone both ways over the years. The football program at Brigham Young University, where Romney attended, is famous for recruiting heavily from American Samoa and its surrounding islands. And BYU's Hawaii campus owns the Polynesian Cultural Center, a widely-visited museum/theme park that includes a large Samoan section." 

National Review’s Walsh: “[T]he losses in Alabama and Mississippi — a state that some Romney supporters were convinced they were going to win — ought to give the Massachusetts governor pause.”

SANTORUM: The New York Times: “Rick Santorum captured twin victories in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries on Tuesday, overcoming the financial advantages of Mitt Romney and the Southern allegiances to Newt Gingrich on a night that amplified his argument that the Republican nominating fight is becoming a two-man race with Mr. Romney. The triumphs by Mr. Santorum elevated and strengthened his candidacy as the Republican campaign rolls ahead into a state-by-state battle for delegates. An aggressive push by Mr. Romney to try and capitalize on the divided conservative electorate failed to take hold, and he finished third in both states.”

The Birmingham News front page: “Santorum surges.” (By the way, it looks like Roy Moore once again for Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, and Rep. Spencer Bachus avoided a primary runoff, gaining 57% in his bid for reelection to Congress.)

“Rick Santorum won a pair of momentum-changing Deep South primary victories Tuesday — ensuring that the bloody GOP Civil War will continue,” the New York Daily News writes. “Santorum captured narrow wins in both Alabama and Mississippi, cementing his status as the conservative alternative to GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, who again struggled to win in his party’s spiritual home.”

The New York Post: “Rick rolls to 2 wins in South.”

The Huntsville Times: “Santorum sweeps.”

In Mississippi, the Jackson Clarion Ledger’s front page: “Santorum by a hair.”

The Sun Herald: “Santorumx2.” (Also on that front page, that an abortion bill passed the state House that would require doctors to be certified in OB/GYN “and have privileges to admit patients to local hospitals” in order to perform an abortion at “Mississsippi’s last remaining abortion clinic.”)

National Review headlines: “Santorum’s Big Night.”