Gingrich leads narrowly in Alabama and Mississippi primaries

After a Super Tuesday night that was more protracted than it was surprising, Tuesday contests in Alabama and Mississippi look like they'll be two of the more exciting primaries of the season. Our predictions, based on the political prediction markets, give a slight edge to Newt Gingrich in both states: 64.4 percent likely to win in Alabama and 55.7 percent likely to win in Mississippi.

Gingrich's only two victories so far have been in neighboring Georgia and South Carolina; a double win tonight would put him firmly on the path to sweeping the five states traditionally considered the heart of the Deep South. Our predictions map has Gingrich with a razor-thin lead in Louisiana, the fifth state in this regiona lead that will surely widen if he does well tonight.

It is Santorum's assertion that Gingrich is splitting the anti-Romney vote. While the former speaker is at a major disadvantage in delegates, wins tonight would make it unlikely that Santorum could force him out of the race. Ron Paul, despite consistent and vocal support, is only about 20 percent likely to win a single primary.

In both states voting tonight, Gingrich's main challenger is the front-runner Mitt Romney. He currently holds 20.8 percent likelihood in Alabama and 37.0 percent likelihood in Mississippi. Santorum is third in both states, with 16.7 percent likelihood in Alabama and 9.2 percent likelihood in Mississippi.

There has been a lack of horse-race polling in these states, however, increasing the volatility in the markets. Gingrich's lead in Alabama comes despite being behind in the aggregated polls of Real Clear Politics. Mississippi does not even have enough polls to create an aggregation.

Romney is almost certain to win Hawaii's primary today as well. We continue to be very confident that he will eventually secure the nomination; his odds currently rest at 86.7 percent.

David Rothschild is an economist at Yahoo! Research. He has a Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter @DavMicRot and email him at

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