Expert Alert: All eyes on the South

David Ruth

Amy Hodges

HOUSTON — (March 12, 2012) — With no clear front-runner in sight, all eyes are on the South as the Republican candidates for president compete in Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii this week. Rice University political scientist Paul Brace is available to discuss the candidates’ current standing in the Republican race for the White House.

Brace said that after the Super Tuesday primaries failed to anoint a clear front-runner, “it seems clear that Mitt Romney cannot sew up the nomination anytime soon.”

“Despite the fact that 22 states have voted to date, the delegate fight grinds on in pursuit of the magic 1,144 needed to win the nomination,” Brace said. “Changes in delegate selection rules, the presence of powerful PACs that buoy flagging campaigns and Romney’s inability to broaden his Republican base continue to place deal-closer victories out of reach, and there is little sign this will change soon.”

Brace said that Tuesday’s primaries could be a game-changer, especially for Rick Santorum. “Facing mounting pressure to drop out, former Georgian Newt Gingrich desperately needs to do well in one or both of these southern states to keep his campaign alive,” Brace said. “And Santorum’s prospects going forward hinge not just on how he performs, but also on the endurance of Gingrich’s campaign. If Gingrich exits, it is likely many of the anybody-but-Romney forces will coalesce behind Santorum and elevate his stature electorally. At a minimum, this will likely prolong Romney’s quest for 1,144 delegates. More starkly, the longer this goes on, the more doubts may grow about Romney’s candidacy.”
Brace is the Clarence L. Carter Professor of Political Science at Rice. He is co-author of “Follow the Leader: Opinion Polls and the Modern Presidents,” author of “State Government and Economic Performance” and co-editor of “The Presidency in American Politics” and “American State and Local Politics.” He has published research in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Polity, Social Science Quarterly, American Politics Quarterly, Legislative Studies Quarterly and other journals.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7. To schedule an interview with Brace, contact David Ruth at or 713-348-6327.


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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom.” With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.