Alabama plays bigger role in Republican race - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Alabama plays bigger role in Republican race

This year, more than ever before Alabama's Republican Primary could have play a role in separating the front runners in the presidential race.  As the candidates traveled the state and blanketed our televisions with commercials, they courted some of the most loyal and conservative Republicans in the country.  

Brad Moody, interim head of the Political Science Department at Auburn Montgomery, said that loyalty goes a long way toward explaining why this year's presidential primary is so significant.

"The heart, the core of any Republican candidate's strength for President has been the South," Moody said.  "And you're right a Republican candidate who can't do well in the South probably has much diminished chances of being president."

The Republican National Committee rewarded Alabama's loyalty with more delegates this year,  50, 47 of which will be allocated on Tuesday.

That's good for 11th out of the 50 states and territories, and more than a number of northern states that have bigger populations - including Massachusetts and Michigan.

"In Alabama in particular in Alabama, you're basically voting twice," said Chuck Todd, Political Director for NBC News.  "And also who would like to see win the delegates in your congressional district.  and on the delegate front it's going to be a muddy picture no matter who wins tonight."

That's because even a second or third place finish could mean a candidate could leave with some delegates.  But analysts say the perception of victory could end up mattering more - particularly for Newt Gingrich.

"It's most important for him, if he loses Alabama or Mississippi, whether he drops out or not, for all practical purposes, his campaign is over," Moody said.  "He has to win one, if not better, both of those states."

Republican presidential candidates have won in Alabama for 8 consecutive elections.  The last Democrat to carry Alabama in a presidential election was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Copyright 2012  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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