The Republican presidential nominee race, split four ways across an eclectic list of contenders, came to a boil this week.
Over the weekend, Rick Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania and second-ranked candidate, swept to an expected victory in conservatives-dominated Kansas, bringing him a step closer to the top spot.
Yet he will have to work hard in the week ahead as the frontrunner, the former Massachusetts Governor and private equity boss, Mitt Romney, has trained his guns on the next two primaries offering a large prize in terms of delegate numbers—Alabama (50) and Mississippi (40).
Mr. Romney is leading in delegate numbers with 454, compared to Mr. Santorum's 217. A total of 1144 delegates are needed to secure the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Florida later this summer.
As the race appeared to tighten between these two candidates it also threatened to end the hopes of the third-place candidate, the outspoken if controversial former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Mr. Newt Gingrich has garnered a face-saving 107 delegates thus far, with notable wins in his home State of Georgia and in an early race in South Carolina. Yet pundits across the board warned that if he failed to make any significant inroads into Alabama and Mississippi, the knock-on effect in terms of his campaign funding may force him out of the race by Wednesday.
The fourth man, Ron Paul, is likely to hold on throughout the election season and has thus far cornered 47 delegates. He has won a fairly constant share of the votes across key States and his presence has consistently reduced the share of the pie going to the top contenders.