Mitt Romney’s victories in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia will add more than 80 delegates to his total and extend his commanding lead over Rick Santorum for the Republican presidential nomination. That sets up Pennsylvania as the primary that has the chance to put the Republicans out of their misery and finally end the GOP race. Since the other states that will vote on April 24 — New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware — will almost certainly go for Romney, Santorum’s homecoming may be his last stand.
While Pennsylvania is being given the opportunity to finally put a fork in the long, agonizing Republican presidential race, listening to Santorum’s speech in his home state tonight one got the feeling the candidate was thinking as much about 2016 as he was the 2012 contest. By repeatedly invoking Ronald Reagan’s presidential runs in 1976 and 1980, Santorum seemed to be preparing more to tell the GOP, “I told you so,” if Romney loses in November, than about his own chances this year.
Public Policy Polling shows Mitt Romney with a healthy lead over Rick Santorum in Wisconsin and a very strong lead in Maryland, heading into the primaries tomorrow:
Mitt Romney looks to be headed for another pair of victories in Tuesday’s primaries. Maryland is likely to be a blow out with Romney at 52 percent to 27 percent for Rick Santorum, 10 percent for Newt Gingrich, and 9 percent for Ron Paul. Wisconsin should be a good deal closer. There Romney’s at 43 percent to 36 percent for Santorum, 11 percent for Paul, and 8 percent for Gingrich.
Romney’s starting to have some success with groups that have generally been key components of Santorum’s base over the last two months. For instance, he leads with Tea Party voters in both states, 43-34 in Maryland and 46-38 in Wisconsin. He’s also becoming more competitive with evangelical voters, leading 43-36 with them in Maryland and trailing only47-35 with them in Wisconsin. In the states where Santorum’s been victorious, he’s generally won evangelicals by a much wider margin than that.
Coming as it did months after the Florida primary, Senator Marco Rubio’s endorsement of Mitt Romney earlier this week could be said to be more an indication of the frontrunner’s inevitability than a gesture that provided any tangible assistance. But the same cannot be said of Rep. Paul Ryan’s announcement today that he is supporting Romney.
With just four days left before the Wisconsin Primary on Tuesday, Ryan’s backing is a telling blow to any hopes Rick Santorum might have harbored about an upset in the Badger state. Ryan is a popular figure in his home state, and while endorsements do not guarantee votes, there’s no denying it will give Romney a boost at a time when he is maintaining a steady but not overwhelming lead. The warmth of the endorsement and the way Ryan addressed the fears of conservatives about his candidate’s moderate tendencies should also go a long way toward putting a fork in a GOP race that appears to be winding down.
This poll is similar to one put out by Marquette Law School earlier this week, which also shows Mitt Romney with a small (but growing) advantage over Rick Santorum:
In Wisconsin’s April 3 Republican contest, the former Massachusetts governor gets support from 40 percent of likely primary voters, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a particular candidate. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gets 33 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul gets 11 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gets 8 percent. Seven percent of respondents are undecided.
The poll follows the trend we’ve been seeing in other states: Romney polls better with moderate Republicans, while Santorum polls better with Tea Partiers and evangelical Christians.
With only a week to go before the next crucial test in the Republican presidential battle, Mitt Romney seems in a strong position to take the winner-take-all contest. A new poll just published by Marquette University shows Romney holding onto a solid 39-31 percent lead over Rick Santorum. But of perhaps even greater interest to the GOP is that the survey shows embattled Governor Scott Walker leading all potential Democratic challengers in a likely June recall vote. Democrats have been counting on knocking off Walker but the Republican, whose approval ratings exceed those of President Obama in the state, may be about to deal his opponents a cruel disappointment.
Looking beyond next week’s GOP primary, the Marquette poll paints a picture of a state that is pretty evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and those who approve/disapprove of both Obama and Walker. But by precipitating the recall to gratify the desire of municipal unions for revenge on Walker for his successful effort to prevent them from further progress towards bankrupting the state, Democrats may have made a crucial mistake. If, as now appears more than likely, Walker survives the runoff, the result will give Republicans a leg up heading into November.
Byron York reports that Rick Santorum told a gathering of Washington reporters today while he knows the outlook for him isn’t bright in Wisconsin next week, he’s looking forward to winning in lots of states the following month. Given that the latest poll shows him losing badly in Wisconsin, his lowering of expectations there is smart. But the problem with his attempt to rationalize the defeats that are in store for him in the near future is that by the time May rolls around the landscape of the race may have been altered to his disadvantage.
The problem with being “Mr. May” is that even if Santorum can win some primaries that month — and even he concedes that running the table in a diverse group of states including some that Romney will probably win is unlikely — is that he really needed to be the man of the month in February and March when the nomination was still up for grabs. Santorum did win some states in those months, but he also lost some big ones, and the result is that waiting until deep into the spring to play catch up means he’s doomed himself to runner-up status.