03/06/2012 08:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Tennessee Primary 2012 Outlook: Rick Santorum Fights For Super Tuesday Win Down South

The Tennessee primary on Super Tuesday has 58 delegates at stake in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

The AP reports:

After a fairly sleepy campaign season — early voting was down 37 percent compared with 2008 — activity suddenly ramped up in the last week as the front-runners each held rallies around the state with hopes of landing a key victory in the South.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made his first public appearance in the state at a rally in Knoxville on Sunday, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum made his latest campaign stops at Memphis-area churches earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich headed for Kingsport, Knoxville and Chattanooga on Monday.

HuffPost's Mark Blumenthal reports on the state of polling in the primary race in Tennessee:

Only seven public polls have been released in Tennessee over the past month. Rick Santorum held a wide lead in early February, but three telephone surveys conducted over the last five days -- by PPP, Rasmussen Reports and the American Research Group -- show Santorum holding remarkably consistent, narrow leads, ranging from 4 to 5 percentage points ahead of Romney. In those three polls, Newt Gingrich wins support between 18 and 27 percent, followed by Ron Paul at 8 to 9 percent.


PPP's analysis notes that early voters may be "Santorum's saving grace" in Tennessee. They find Santorum leading Romney 39 to 32 percent among the one in four Republicans who have already voted.

The Tennessean reports:

While the nomination battle illustrates the political gap between conservatives and moderates in Tennessee, it may not be fatal to Romney’s candidacy, if he manages to secure the nomination. Many Santorum supporters said they would reluctantly vote for Romney in November, preferring a victory by him over the re-election of Obama.

The following states will also hold primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday: Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont and Virginia.

Check out the slideshow below for more on the Santorum campaign.