Huge Defeat for Santorum Likely Tomorrow…

Tomorrow night voters in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington D.C. will head to the polls and vote in their respective Republican Primaries. As it stands right now, CNN estimates that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is well ahead with 571 delegates, with former Senator Rick Santorum trailing behind at 264 delegates. As for the bottom tier candidates, former Speaker Newt Gingrich stands at 137 delegates and Representative Ron Paul is in last place with 71. The amount of delegates up for grabs is 42 in Wisconsin, 37 in Maryland and 19 in Washington D.C. If the polls are right, Mr. Romney could end tomorrow night well past the halfway point of 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination and make the inevitable outcome even more apparent than it already is.

According to the latest polls, Mr. Romney is ahead in all three states and is almost definitely expected to win by large margins in at least two of the three primaries tomorrow, Maryland and Washington D.C. In Wisconsin, the vote is a little closer, with the latest PPP poll showing Mr. Romney ahead of Mr. Santorum by 7 points. The general consensuses is that Wisconsin is the most important race of the three since not only are the most amount of delegates are at stake, but also because it is a Midwestern state, and Mr. Romney desperately needs more voters in this part of the country to start warming up to him. Similarly, if Mr. Santorum wants to remain relevant in the race and salvage himself from a night of devastating losses in Maryland and D.C., he has to hope that blue-collar voters in the Western and Northern parts of the state override his losses in the more affluent suburbs of Milwaukee, which are heavily likely to favor Mr. Romney. If Mr. Santorum does end up losing all three races tomorrow, he can only look forward to another series of impending devastating losses later this month on April 24th in New York, Delaware, Rhode Island and Connecticut. He is even having trouble maintaining the lead in his own home state of Pennsylvania (which will also be holding its primary on the 24th), as the latest Frank & Marshall College poll puts him only two points ahead of Mr. Romney. All of this spells deep trouble for Mr. Santorum’s campaign.

However, yesterday on “Fox News Sunday” Mr. Santorum told Chris Wallace that he would not drop out even if he does lose all three races tomorrow, promising to further prolong the path to the nomination. Mr. Gingrich also claimed he would definitely continue despite any lack of enthusiasm for his campaign and the heavy amounts of restructuring (i.e. firing one-third of its staff) it underwent last week. But as the Washington establishment chorus of support for Mr. Romney grows even more clamorous (Mr. Romney earned three pivotal endorsements last week: Representative Paul Ryan, Senator Marco Rubio and former President George H.W. Bush), the urge to begin to finalize the nomination process has become all the more prominent. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday that he “think[s] the chances are overwhelming that [Romney] will be our nominee.” Although he did not outright endorse the former Governor, his sentiments have been echoed by other important Republican Party figures such as South Carolina Senator Jim Demint.

To be sure, there is still a possibility that Mr. Santorum can pull of a victory in Wisconsin tomorrow. There have been many occasions where polls were taken just days before the primaries for states like Mississippi and Alabama that predicted a likely win for Mr. Romney. As we saw, Mr. Romney ended up losing because the polls didn’t account for all the rural support that pushed Mr. Santorum to victory in both primaries (and others preceding them). He could also benefit from low voter turn out, which has been a frequent occurrence in this primary season. But while Wisconsin resides in a territory that typically prefers Mr. Santorum (the Midwest), it’s still a blue state with a lot of moderate and independent leaning GOP voters who will almost certainly gravitate towards Mr. Romney. Moreover, the polls show Mr. Romney doing well with conservative and religious voters alike. Mr. Romney also earned the endorsements of two significant Wisconsin GOP figures: The aforementioned Paul Ryan and current Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (both of whom pulled a hilarious April fool’s day prank on the former Governor yesterday).

Overall, Mr. Santorum definitely has his work cut out for him, especially if he loses all three primaries tomorrow. If that outcome does come to fruition, Mr. Santorum is unlikely to pick up any delegates because all three primaries are winner-take-all. Mr. Santorum is currently rebelling against increasing amounts of pressure for him to drop out of the race, and losing all three primaries tomorrow would only intensify Republican’s desire to bring an end to the primary race. Of course, it is unlikely that Mr. Santorum will claim defeat and pack it in anytime soon since he expects to win big next month in the Indiana, West Virginia and North Carolina primaries. But Mr. Santorum’s biggest concern right now should be making sure he wins in Pennsylvania on the 24th. A loss in his home state to Mr. Romney would be utterly humiliating and disastrous for his campaign. Even Mr. Gingrich won his home state of Georgia handily last month on Super Tuesday. Mr. Santorum may be able to get away with accusing random pollsters of being surrogates for the Democratic Party now, but if he can’t turn the tides towards his favor in the next three weeks, it would be absolutely pointless for him (and Mr. Gingrich) not to concede and admit defeat.

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