Big defeats in Alabama and Mississippi look bad for Mitt Romney, but when it comes to the all-important delegate count, he will likely still win Tuesday's primary night. According to CNN's estimated delegate tracker, Rick Santorum gained nine more delegates than Romney in Alabama, but only one in Mississippi. Meanwhile, Romney won all nine of the delegates from American Samoa and is crushing the field in Hawaii, meaning he will take most, if not all, of that state's 17 delegates. So despite the two high-profile losses on Tuesday night, Romney (who already has more delegates than remaining contenders combined) will almost certainly come out ahead. (Update 7:30 a.m.: NBC's Chuck Todd says it's official. Delegates go 42-38 for Romney.)
There's no doubt that this looks even worse for Romney than his mixed Super Tuesday results and Santorum (and even Newt Gingrich) clearly benefits in many other ways. Santorum looks more and more like a legit candidate and he will likely get a big fundraising boost this week. His popularity among the party faithful is fully established and he has a caucus in friendly Missouri this weekend, which could give him another boost. Santorum also has "narrative momentum," as MSNBC put it, meaning that he'll be getting a flood of positive headlines and no reason to quit now.