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(RNN) - Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has taken both the Mississippi and the Alabama primaries after a close race with Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, according to CNN.
Romney picked up more delegates after winning in Hawaii and American Samoa, which gave him a total of 506 delegates, more than 500 short of the 1,144 needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination.
He placed third in both southern primaries Tuesday while Texas Rep. Ron Paul, as predicted, did not fare well in either primary.
In the Yellowhammer State, Santorum got 35 percent of the votes, six more percentage points than his nearest rival, Gingrich.
"We did it again," Santorum said in Lafayette, LA shortly after CNN called him as the winner of Alabama's primary.
In Mississippi, Santorum and Gingrich ran neck-and-neck with each other. According to CNN, only two percentage points separated Santorum and Gingrich from each other with the former senator coming out on top with 33 percent.
Both states use proportional primaries, so delegates will be divvied up amongst the top winners in the states.
The added delegates will bring Santorum, who is currently running behind the GOP favorite former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, closer to closing the more than 200 delegate gap between himself and his rival.
"If you're the front runner and you keep coming in third, you're not much of a front-runner," Gingrich said to reporters at his campaign headquarters in Birmingham, AL.
After polls closed the two hotly contested Deep South primaries, exit polling results were too close to call the winner, according to CNN. Santorum and Romney were front-runners in both elections, according to the initial poll results.
Various surveys released before polls opened in the southern states found Gingrich and Romney in a dead heat while Santorum and Paul trailed behind. Most polls favored current front-runner Romney.
According to exit polling from CBS News, 39 percent of Alabama voters said their decision was heavily influenced by their perception of which candidate would be best against President Barack Obama. In Mississippi, 42 percent said the same thing.
The polls found that a majority of Alabama residents are ready to support whichever candidate makes it onto the Republican ticket come fall. In Mississippi, most voters were strongly attached to their chosen candidate - especially Gingrich backers. According to CBS, nearly seven in 10 of his supporters said they "strongly back him."
The next primary will be held in Illinois on March 20. The state has 69 delegates up for grabs.
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