Just following up on my post earlier, it looks as expected like Mitt Romney is going to sweep the three Republican Party primary contests tonight.
With 99 percent of the vote counted in Washington DC, the former Massachusetts governor had picked up 70 percent of the votes, while Ron Paul came in a very distant second, with 12 percent. Rick Santorum didn’t even qualify for the Washington ballot, which sums up the problems with organization that the ex-Pennsylvania senator has suffered from – especially compared with the Romney camp. (Presumably the regular emails I keep receiving from Team Santorum thanking me for a donation that I have never made will also cease at some point.)
In Maryland, with three-quarters of the votes counted, Romney has picked up 49 percent of the votes counted, followed by Santorum on 29 percent and Newt Gingrich with 11 percent.
In Wisconsin, which was seen as Santorum’s only genuine chance of creating an upset, CNN has projected Romney as winning. With 93 percent of the vote in, Romney stood at 42 percent, with Santorum coming in second with 38 percent.
Santorum has indicated, no doubt to Democrats’ great delight, that he intends to continue, although Jon Huntsman pledged much the same after a weak showing in New Hampshire before quickly rethinking. The incentive for Santorum to stick it out is that his home state of Pennsylvania is coming up later this month, although a defeat there would presumably be something of a humiliation.
Either way, Barack Obama has already started filling in the gaps that Romney has been careful to leave when trying to define himself for the Republican base, essentially mocking conservative favorite Paul Ryan’s budget plan and trying to tie Romney to the Wisconsin congressman’s proposals.
Contrary to what the Romney campaign might say at this or any point, he will have to tack back to the center, because it’s here that as analyst Charlie Cook noted to me, the election will be won or lost in November. The clean sweep tonight means that he can at least start to think about doing so with increasing confidence.