This is it, you guys: the very last chance all primary -- maybe all election -- to try out your jazziest Dixieland cliches. Is Newt Gingrich the black-eyed peas to Rick Santorum's collard greens? Is Mitt Romney day-old cornbread? A cottonmouth on a float trip? An egg-sucking dog? Does any of that mean anything? Does it even matter? Not tonight. Tonight is all about the "proud" "heritage" of the Grits Eaters. Mississippi and Alabama have rarely been the deciders in the Republican primary, but Tuesday night they could end this one by picking Mitt Romney, who has not proven his ability to either shoot small creatures with big guns or shoot large creatures with little guns. If the conservative alternatives can't win in the most conservative states, where can they win? On the other hand, if Santorum does better than polls predict -- which he often does -- not only will he have defeated Romney far from his Rust Belt home turf, but it will look like a come-from-behind victory. If Newt Gingrich wins, he can declare himself President of the Deep South. He's won Georgia and South Carolina, and his campaign says he has to keep winning everything between there and Texas. And then what? As for Ron Paul, he focused his energy on the Hawaii caucuses, though his caucus-centric strategy has yet to result in a win.
Polls close at 8 p.m. Eastern time, and we'll start liveblogging about an hour before that.
11:30p.m.: Poor Mitt Romney: he pretended to like both grits and Jeff Foxworthy, and all he got was lousy third place. Hawaii results will come in later tonight, and as The New York Times' Micah Cohen points out, blue states have tended to vote for Romney. In fact, Romney might still win more delegates tonight. But Alabama and Mississippi were the states everyone was paying attention to. "I don't think anybody expected Mitt to win Alabama or Mississippi," Romney's adviser said on CNN, but as BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski notes, Romney himself expected to win Alabama: