Tuesday's primaries in Mississippi and Alabama have the potential to seal Mitt Romney's position as GOP presidential front-runner…or put the last nail in Newt Gingrich's campaign coffin. Romney has turned the tables on what many pundits saw as a Southern delegate race between Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
The two races in the Bible Belt could ultimately be a much tighter contest now that Romney has managed to cut his rivals' lead with voters. According to the latest Public Policy Polling survey, Gingrich holds a slim advantage over Romney in Mississippi, 33 percent to 31 percent with Santorum close behind with 27 percent and Ron Paul in a distant fourth place with seven percent. The survey shows the Alabama contest is neck-to-neck between Romney and Gingrich, with Romney at 31 percent, Gingrich at 30 percent and 29 percent for Santorum.
If Romney can eke out a win in these deeply conservative states, it bolsters his claim that he's the only candidate capable of defeating President Obama in November's general election.
Eighty-seven delegates are up for grabs Tuesday. Romney, who has won the majority of the GOP primaries held thus far, has a double-digit lead in delegates over his competitors. Romney currently has won 454 delegates; 1,144 are needed to secure the GOP presidential nomination.
As the GOP contenders battle for conservative votes in Alabama and Mississippi, President Obama has to grapple with his sinking approval ratings. Two national polls released Monday found that more Americans disapprove of Obama than they did a month ago. The New York Times/CBS poll showed Obama's rating dropped nine points in four weeks, from 50 percent in February to the current 41 percent. And in a hypothetical match-up against his opponents, Obama had a 47 percent to 44 percent advantage over Romney; Obama led Santorum 48 percent to 44 percent. Obama's winning margin over his Republican opponents has also shrunk, according to the latest NYT/CBS poll. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll also revealed a similar headache for Obama. That poll found that Obama's approval rating slipped four points, from 50 percent to 46 percent, in one month.
Long-time Republican and tax hawk Grover Norquist recently sat down with The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task and Daniel Gross to discuss the Republican presidential race. Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform and author of "Debacle: Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future," says Romney will most likely become the party's nominee. Norquist had thrown his support behind Texas Governor Rick Perry but has since remained neutral after Perry dropped out in mid-January.
Despite changing candidate allegiance ten times over the past six months, the GOP electorate should not been viewed as "flighty," says Norquist. He also argues that this extended GOP primary race has not damaged the Republican brand.
"You had 10 people running as Reagan Republicans…these are 10 guys that largely agreed that we're going to spend less, tax less and have less regulation," Norquist says in the attached video. "It wasn't some obvious division within the party."
Whoever wins the GOP presidential nomination has to deal with a changing political landscape. The media focus has centered on the president's seat but the Oval Office holds much less power and authority than many believe, Norquist says.
The four candidates "are auditioning for a very different job than the Republican nominee has in the past," he says. "If [a] Republican is elected in 2012…it's not going to be a presidentially driven agenda. It will be a congressionally driven agenda."
Tell us what you think! Who wields more power: The President or Congress?