GOP presidential votes today in of Alabama and Mississippi will:
*Make it hard for Newt Gingrich to explain it away if the Georgia native does poorly in these conservative southern states. Gingrich, lagging anyway, gets the biggest boost from a strong showing.
*Help Rick Santorum cast himself as the alternative to Mitt Romney if he does well.
*Hinder, but not substantially, Romney as he continues to be the frontrunner because he is winning what counts--delegates.
The Illinois primary is a week from today--March 20.
Hawaii and American Samoa Republicans caucus today--results in very late.