Santorum ran about evenly with Gingrich in Alabama when voters were asked which candidate best understood the problems of typical Americans, an attempt to measure the empathy that voters see in the contenders. In Mississippi, Gingrich was ahead with that group.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul put little effort into both states' races.
Romney led among the nearly 4 in 10 voters in both states who cited the ability to defeat President Barack Obama in the November election as the main quality they are seeking in a candidate. Given four choices, that has been the top factor named in every state so far.
The surveys of voters in Alabama's and Mississippi's GOP presidential primaries were conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from 1,589 Alabama voters interviewed Tuesday as they left their polling places at 30 randomly selected sites, and from 1,665 Mississippi voters as they left 30 polling places. Each survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
AP news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
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