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LIVE: Alabama Primary Results, Rick Santorum Wins

LIVE UPDATES: Fresh off a weekend primary victory in Kansas, Rick Santorum looks to overtake Newt Gingrich in the Alabama primary this Tuesday. 

PolicyMic is covering the primary live, and will be regularly updating this page as new information becomes available. Stay tuned. 

(All times in EST, Hit 'Refresh' to See the Most Recent Updates, See Live Mississippi Results Here)

Tuesday 9:55 p.m. RICK SANTORUM WINS

9:38 p.m. Race Tightening: With 10% of polls reporting Santorum leads with 34%, followed by Gingrich with 30%, and Romney with 28%. 

8:45 p.m. In the Struggling South, the Economy Matters: According to exit polls in Alabama, 93% of voters said they were worried about the direction of the nation's economy, including 82% of voters, who said they were very worried.

8:30 p.m. With ~2% of polls reporting Santorum up 34%, followed by Romney 28%, Gingrich 26%, and Paul 8%.

8:20 p.m. With 1% of polls reporting, Gingrich leads with 39%, followed by Romney 29%, Santorum 21%, and Paul 0%. A total of 34 votes have been counted so far.

CNN Alabama Exit Poll: Romney 37, Santorum 28, Gingrich 26, Paul 5

8 p.m. Polls in Alabama and Mississippi have just closed. Both primary races are too early to call. Romney looks set to make waves in Mississippi, while Alabama looks set to be a close fight.

7: 30 p.m. Electability is Key: According to exit polls in Alabama, 39% of voters said being able to defeat Barack Obama was the most important candidate quality.

5:15 p.m. Grave Concerns in Alabama: No Candidate Worthy of the Ticket: As PolicyMicer Keiana Quarker White from Atmore, Ala., explains: "There’s a buzz in the air, 'We have no one to vote for this year.' There are far too many Alabamians who fear the worst for the election: They do not have a chance at beating Barrack Obama.  The GOP has yet to produce a candidate worthy for the ticket – a 'true champion' for the party.

Though the results from Tuesday’s primary may echo predicted Gallup poll readings, many GOP supporters are casting their votes with grave concerns. The party is deeply divided, and everyone knows it. Yet, the GOP insists on playing charades; they are really running scared of losing it all (which they very well may)." 

4:00 p.m. As PolicyMicer Daniel Boyd Atchison explains: "The weather in Alabama today genuinely reflected most peoples attitudes about voting. Alabamians have become apathetic. Most people here realize there is little difference between democrat and republican anymore, which is why Gingrich has done well here. He works, for better or worse, on both sides of the fence. A significant contribution to the general apathy is the corruption of our state and local governments. Spencer Baccus (AL-6th) is likely to win again despite the fact that he stands accused of insider trading. Our other government officials have been in office almost my entire lifetime, yet they remain in office because people here have lost faith in the system. Today Alabama votes, and tomorrow we know it won't matter."

3:45 p.m. GOP Pack Splits Endorsements: Alabama's last three Republican governors split their votes in the state's GOP presidential primary Tuesday.

The current governor, Robert Bentley, made no endorsement before the primary, but ended up voting for Rick Santorum.

Before Tuesday's vote, former Gov. Fob James endorsed Gingrich and former Gov. Bob Riley backed Romney.

2 p.m. FYI: Polls close across Alabama at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

9:45 a.m. Gingrich Takes Lead, According to Intrade: Gingrich has a 66% chance of winning the Alabama primary, according to Intrade, a site that speculates on the outcomes of non-sports-related future events. Closest competitor Romney has a 19% chance of winning, according to the site.

Monday 9:00 a.m. Tuesday's Vote Will Be Close: Recent polls in Alabama show a tight race with Romney at 31% to 30% for Gingrich, 29% for Santorum, and 8% for Paul. 

Sunday 11:05 p.m. According to polling data collected by RealClearPolitics.com, Mitt Romney has a narrow lead over Newt Gingrich (2.3 percent). But, out of four polls taken in March, Gingrich held a one-point lead in two of them.

11:01 p.m. Rick Santorum attended Baptist church services in Tupelo, Mississippi on Sunday morning (the birthplace of Elvis), and scheduled campaign stops in Meridian and Gulfport. Gingrich also campaigned in Mississippi.

11:00 p.m. According to the Huffington Post, Restore Our Future, Romney's super PAC, was spending $1.42 million on ads in Alabama and $973,000 in Mississippi. The Gingrich campaign was running about $125,000 in ads in Alabama and $83,000 in Mississippi, while the pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future was spending $413,000 on ads in Alabama and $250,000 in Mississippi.

10:00 pm. One-time presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty said Mitt Romney faces "challenging" contests in Alabama and Mississippi, where many Southerners are skeptical of his conservative credentials. 

 

THE BACKGROUND: Newt Gingrich is banking on a primary victory in Alabama to keep his presidential hopes alive, but Rick Santorum is confident Gingrich will be out of the race by the end of the week. 

"Hopefully after this Tuesday, this will be a two-person race, and we can get down to business of deciding whether we want a conservative or a moderate to go up against Barack Obama," Santorum said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital with Al Hunt" airing this weekend.

Santorum cited Gingrich's defeats in recent primaries as an indication that it is time for him to back out of the race. After South Carolina and Georgia, Gingrich has "finished third or fourth everywhere else, which has been a consistent pattern. So we feel pretty good that it's now narrowing to a two-person race," said Santorum. 

Santorum is hoping for a first or second place finish in the March 13 primaries in both Alabama and Mississippi.

On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Santorum said Gingrich's recent weak performances reveal he has few options remaining. "The speaker can stay in as long as he wants, but I think the better opportunity to make sure that we nominate a conservative is to give us an opportunity to go head-to-head with Gov. Romney at some point and hopefully that will occur sooner rather than later." 

Meanwhile, a defiant Gingrich predicted that he will win Alabama and Mississippi, and campaigned hard over the weekend for the Southern showdown. Gingrich has staked the future of his campaign on a "Southern strategy" and is well aware that losing both Alabama and Mississippi would spell the end.

Mitt Romney is hoping for a key standout victory in either contest to show he has pull amongst Southern, socially conservative and evangelical voters. Romney has yet to win a contest in the deep South. 

There are 50 delegates at stake in Alabama. The primary is open, meaning voters can choose to vote in whichever primary they prefer. 

Over the weekend, Romney secured wins in Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as Wyoming. He now has 454 delegates, compared to 217 for Santorum, 107 for Gingrich, and 47 for Ron Paul.

Photo Credit: markn3tel

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