Mitt Romney has taken complete command of the race to the Republican presidential nomination.As expected, Romney cruised to a three-pronged sweep of Wisconsin, Maryland and The District of Columbia. In doing so, he swelled his delegate lead and sapped almost any shred of main challenger Rick Santorum’s lingering momentum.
Washington, D.C., was called almost immediately. Santorum wasn’t even on the ballot there. Maryland was also in the bag as soon as the polls closed. And most networks called Wisconsin, the only state in any kind of question, within 40 minutes of polls closing in the state.
10:05: Romney just finished his speech in Wisconsin, which sounded very general election-y. He was introduced by Paul Ryan No mention of Santorum. No Gingrich. Definitely no Paul. The only Republican he mentioned, in fact, was Abraham Lincoln. And that was to disparage Barack Obama for comparing himself to Lincoln.
One of the key excerpts from the speech is below. First, the opening shot at Barack Obama.
New business startups are at the lowest level in 30 years, and our national debt is at a record high. And when you drive home tonight and stop at a gas station, just take a look at the prices and ask yourself, “Four more years?”
And that’s why it is important to understand one astonishing fact about this election: President Obama thinks he’s doing a good job. No, I’m not kidding. He actually thinks he’s doing a great job. An historically great job. According to the President, only Lincoln, FDR and Lyndon Johnson have accomplished more. And no, he didn’t say that on Saturday Night Live.
It’s enough to make you think that years of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of True Believers telling you what a great job you are doing, well, that might be enough to make you a little out of touch.
The crowd in Wisconsin booed at the mere suggestion of “four more years.” Romney even got some jokes in, too. Though his main comedic reference point is Saturday Night Live, which should go along well with the whole “out of touch” point.
Of course, Romney has been the perceived “out of touch” candidate in this race, and it’s probably why he has not wrapped up the nomination sooner. So can he really turn the tables to Obama on that point?
MEANWHILE, Rick Santorum was in Pennsylvania, where he will spend the next three weeks perhaps trying to stave off an embarrassing home state loss that would be the death knell in the Republican race. A recent poll by Franklin & Marshall College had his lead down to just two points in the Keystone state.
Santorum started a speech in Mars, Pa., by saying this was “halftime” of the Republican race. (Technically, it is, in terms of delegates.) He went with a football analogy, which makes sense, because Rick Santorum could definitely be a football coach.
He’s still attacking Mitt Romney in his speeches:
“The people of this country have stood up and followed because they’ve seen someone who has a clear positive vision, someone whose convictions are also forged in steel, not on an Etch A Sketch.”
10:42: Oof. Drudge hits Santorum with this mocking banner.
Photo: Drudge Report/Screenshot
SPEAKING OF DELEGATES, well, Romney took all of the decided ones Tuesday night. According to the Associated Press, he now has a commanding 676-272 delegate lead over Santorum. Romney grabbed at least 74 delegates, with 21 more still undecided.
The AP reports that Santorum would need to accumulate 76 per cent of the remaining delegates from this point to have the nomination reach the magical 1,144 to capture the nomination.
EXIT POLLS ARE FUN! So let’s take a look at some of them.
Wisconsin, the state that is going to end up being the closest race between Romney and Santorum, is a good barometer of where Romney stands at this point in the race with Republicans.
Romney won most significant categories. He beat Santorum among men (by 5 per cent) and women (7 per cent). He at least tied across every age demographic. He even made inroads into lower-income classes, where Santorum has dominated in some of his wins.
Romney won among Republicans by 13 points and Independents by 2 points.
And here’s a telling stat: Romney even tied among the “very conservative” bloc of voters, which would pretty much completely discredit Santorum’s lingering notion that he is the “conservative candidate.” Among voters who “strongly support” the Tea Party movement, Romney won by 12 points.
And Romney continued to dominate in his talking point: electability. 60-seven per cent of voters who thought the candidate’s ability to defeat Obama was the most important quality flocked to Romney. Voters also trusted him most on the budget deficit (47 per cent) and the economy in general (48 per cent).
HUMOROUS TWEETS/IRONIC QUOTES OF THE NIGHT
Newt Gingrich is running neck and neck for 3rd place in DC–against Jon Huntsman. And Santorum isn’t even on the ballot. #2012
— Neil King, WSJ (@NKingofDC) April 4, 2012
“We have a moral crisis,” says Herman Cain. Crowd murmurs in agreement
— Felicia Sonmez (@feliciasonmez) April 4, 2012
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