It’s Over, Right?

Apr 3 2012 @ 9:32pm

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With Maryland won, Wisconsin exit polls showing a solid Romney lead, and Drudge leading with tornadoes and trailer trucks, it must be. Here are Ryan Lizza, Joshua Putnam, and Andrew Prokop's final delegate projections

Romney will be 22 delegates short of the 1,144 he’ll need to win the nomination. That might sound like good news for Rick Santorum, but according to Putnam’s count there will also be 598 unbound delegates remaining at this point. These delegates can support any candidate, either because they are chosen in non-binding caucuses or conventions, or because they’ve been directly elected in primaries. If Romney is only slightly short of his magic number, it will be easy for him to win the support of unpledged delegates from states that he won, like Illinois, Maine, and Washington.

So it is over? Yeah, pretty much. Santorum is so far behind in delegates that he needs to significantly broaden his appeal to turn things around. But if he loses in Wisconsin and Maryland today, his time will have all but expired.

The exit polls from Wisconsin paint a very familiar picture. Romney's biggest selling point is that he is the strongest candidate to beat Obama. The message? Meh.

Ron Paul won the under-30s again. Romney's strength is still among seniors. He lost to Santorum again in the lowest income bracket, under $30,000, but Romney did better than usual among those without a college degree (i.e. he actually narrowly won that demographic). But … drum roll, please … Romney still lost the white evangelical vote to Santorum by 39 – 41. A low turnout among these voters may have been responsible for Romney's solid win. Catholics preferred Romney to Santorum – again. The mega-rich convert to Catholicism, Gingrich, came in last among Catholics.

Oh, and 23 percent of Wisconsin's Republicans think that Rick Santorum is not conservative enough. Ponder that for a while.

(Photo: Republican Presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds his microphone during a twon hall style meeting at Wisconsin Building Supply on April 2, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.)