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Alabama and Mississippi primaries: Santorum wins, creating possible shakeup of GOP race

With low voter turnout, Rick Santorum has won in Alabama and done better than expected in Mississippi.

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Rick Santorum eats ribs at Dreamland Bar-B-Que with his wife Karen during a campaign stop yesterday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Win McNamee/AFP/Getty Images)

Rick Santorum has won the Alabama and Mississippi Republican primaries, the Washington Post reported.

His victories deliver powerful blows to the campaign of front-runner Mitt Romney, according to The New York Times.

More from GlobalPost: Alabama primary: Santorum is supported but not endorsed by Governor Bentley

Prior to the voting, Romney had appeared cocksure, telling CNN that Santorum was at "the desperate end of his campaign."

But the Alabama result was all the more upsetting for the Romney campaign, given that the former Massachusetts governor had vastly outspent his rival.

"We did it again," Rick Santorum said in an address to supporters in Lafayette, Louisiana that was carried live by CNN. That state will hold its primary March 24.

Comentators had focused on Romney's need to demonstrate his ability to win in the southern US in order to demonstrate that he has been accpeted by social conservative voters.

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Romney entered Tuesday night's contests the front runner, with 454 delegates to Santorum's 217 and Gingrich's 107 (1,144 are needed to win the nomination) and will remain in the lead no matter the result. The 87 delegates to be awarded by the primaries elections will not be enough to make up the difference.

Alabama can award 50 delegates, 47 of whom are allocated as a function of the vote: 21 are awarded on a proportional basis by Congressional District (two for the winner of each district and one to the second-place finnisher) and another 26 are awarded as a function of the candidates' share of the statewide vote. Three delegates are so-called "super delegates" that can chose whom to support independently of the voters.

According to WKRG News in Mobile, Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman predicted turnout of only 28.9 percent of registered voters (down from 42 percent in 2008).

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120313/alabama-primary-santorum-projected-winner-creati