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All in all, a pretty quiet Thursday on the polling and data front, but we did get our first two looks at next week's presidential contests. And if Newt Gingrich's own spokesman was sincere when he ratcheted up expectations for the "Deep South" primaries next week, Newt Gingrich's future in the GOP presidential sweepstakes might be measured in days.

GOP PRIMARY:

NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Romney 37, Santorum 23, Gingrich 12, Paul 11

NATIONAL (Rasmussen): Romney 39, Santorum 27, Gingrich 17, Paul 10

ALABAMA (Alabama State University): Santorum 23, Romney 19, Gingrich 14, Paul N/A

ALABAMA (Capital Survey Research/AEA): Romney 31, Santorum 22, Gingrich 21, Paul  7

CALIFORNIA (PPIC): Romney 28, Santorum 22, Gingrich 17, Paul 8

GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama d. Romney (48-44); Obama d. Santorum (50-42)

CALIFORNIA (PPIC): Obama d. "Generic Republican" (53-37)

MAINE (PPP): Obama d. Paul (54-38); Obama d. Romney (58-35); Obama d. Santorum (58-35); Obama d. Gingrich (60-32)

A few thoughts after the jump.

In that WSJ article linked to in the intro, it was noted that Newt Gingrich's campaign team had made the strategic decision on Wednesday to bag any campaign appearances in Kansas (where presidential caucuses are set for this weekend), and focus on next weekend's primaries in Alabama and Mississippi. Given the difficulty that Mitt Romney has had in the South (where he was shut out everywhere except Florida and Virginia, where his main opponents failed to even make the ballot), that seemed to be a shrewd strategic move.

What might have been less shrewd, however, was raising the stakes of such a move. Witness this two question exchange between the WSJ and Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond:

Q: Newt said he had to win Georgia to remain a credible candidate. Does he have to win Alabama and Mississippi to remain a credible candidate?

A: Yes.

Q: He has to win?

A: Yes.

The problem with such a declarative statement is that once you make the proclamation that your candidate is in a must-win situation … well … then he must win. And the early data from Alabama isn't good for Gingrich. And given that he largely got shelled outside of his home state on Tuesday, it doesn't seem likely that he is going to ride any wave of positive press into Alabama and Mississippi, either.

My favorite poll of the day, for what it is worth, is that Alabama State poll. Anyone who works in political media of any kind, or even tweets about politics, knows how dogged Ron Paul devotees tend to be, and how paranoid they are that their man is getting short shrift. I remember seeing some absolutely irate comments on Twitter a few weeks back when one major pollster (I want to say it was Quinnipiac) tested a general election trial heat pairing Obama with all of the GOP contenders, save for Ron Paul.

In fairness to said pollster, that was not a bad call. The one thing that seems to be the only consistent kernel of truth in this election is that there is simply no way Ron Paul will win the Republican presidential nomination. Everyone knows that, except for presumably Paul and his band of adherents.

But now we get a poll of the GOP primary … with only four candidates to begin with … and they leave Paul out? The safest bet in US politics—the inbox of Alabama State is loaded tonight.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:35 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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