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Newt's Last Stand

Sets expectations high in Mississippi and Alabama, and if he falls short, he's done.

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Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is confident that he will win primaries in Alabama and Mississippi this week — staking what remains of his candidacy on the two deep south states.

Gingrich's campaign went so far as to declare him the front-runner in both contests in an email to the press, asserting based on internal polls that he remains on a "path to victory." But as a general rule, if a campaign says it's doing well, it's probably not.

Gingrich is tied with his opponents in Alabama and is trailing Mitt Romney in Mississippi by eight points in the latest Rasmussen polls. His path from the two after the two states is virtually non-existent — he won't win enough delegates to change the game even if he does win both states. It's nearly impossible for him to reach the 1,144 delegates required to win the nomination outright — all he can hope for is keeping Mitt Romney from reaching that threshold.

Pressure is building on Gingrich to step aside to allow Rick Santorum the opportunity to go head-to-head with Romney — perhaps the only chance the conservative base has to stop the former Massachusetts governor from becoming the nominee. Gingrich has so far resisted the calls to bow out of the race, but those calls will only become shouts after Tuesday.