Southern Bounce for Gingrich?

Ellisville, Miss. -- The Gingrich campaign is touting expanded television ad buys in Mississippi and Alabama after new polls indicate the candidate is experiencing a competitive bounce following his Super Tuesday win in Georgia.

Polling conducted in Alabama before March 6 showed the former House Speaker behind frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, but now, a scattershot of data points indicate movement towards Gingrich in the Deep South.

Gingrich has switched places with Santorum for first place in the latest Alabama State survey conducted Thursday. Gingrich has a slight edge over Romney, 20.7 percent to 20.2 percent, while Santorum has fallen back at 16.6 percent. The same poll conducted at the beginning of the month showed Santorum leading Romney by four points and Gingrich by nearly nine points.

Meanwhile, a Rasmussen automated telephone survey of likely Republican voters conducted Thursday suggest the Alabama race has transformed into three -way statistical tie, with Gingrich holding a razor thin edge over his rivals. At 30 percent, Gingrich's lead falls within the 4 percent margin of error, with Santorum close behind him at 29 percent and Romney at 28 percent.

But the race remains in flux. Nearly twenty percent of likely Republican voters surveyed in a tracking poll conducted by the Alabama Education Association indicated they were still undecided. The March 6-8 poll notably showed that Romney has the lead at 28.5 percent, followed by Gingrich at 25.5 percent, Santorum at 21.1 percent, and Paul at 4.5 percent.

Gingrich won the South Carolina primary in January, capping an unlikely turnaround for the campaign. He has since dropped in national polls but won his home state of Georgia, one of 10 states that voted this week on the so-called "Super Tuesday."

Campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond has indicated the primary results in Alabama and Mississippi will make or break Gingrich's presidential aspirations. A press release distributed Friday announced that the campaign had increased it television presence to $124,000 in Alabama and $83,000 in Mississippi.

In Mississippi, new numbers indicate a mixed bag for Gingrich. A Rasmussen survey conducted Thursday shows Romney has a commanding eight point lead over Santorum and Gingrich less than a week before the primary.

But a survey of likely Republican voters conducted March 7-8 by the American Research Group shows Gingrich taking the lead at 35 percent, with Romney in second place at 31 percent. Nearly half of self-identified Tea Party supporters said they would vote for Gingrich and 37 percent of those who said they would definitely vote chose him as well.

Gingrich returns to Alabama Saturday after spending two days in Mississippi.