Mitt Romney’s very good night began in Maryland, where he was swiftly declared the winner by a substantial margin – a good 20 points according to early results. His statewide win was good for 13 of the state’s 37 delegates right off the bat, with the rest awarded by district. Early projections suggested he would win the majority of these additional delegates as well.
Then it was on to the District of Columbia, a winner-take-all contest for 16 delegates where Romney’s principal rival, Rick Santorum, was not on the ballot. His victory there should be enough to push Romney past the halfway point to winning the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination.
That leaves Wisconsin, where early exit polls suggest a fairly close race. CNN’s analysis sees Santorum as “more popular in rural areas, and Romney in urban areas.” The Wisconsin vote is closely divided between urban and rural regions, 24 to 22 percent, with the rest located in the suburbs. It’s an open primary, and a substantial Democrat presence has been noted at the polls, voting strongly but not entirely for Santorum.
Update: At just past 9:30 PM EST, Fox News projects Mitt Romney will win the Wisconsin primary.
Update: Video of Mitt Romney’s victory speech below, courtesy of PBS NewsHour. It was a fairly tough speech, pitched toward the general election contest against President Obama, concluding with a straightforward invitation to voters in the remaining primary states – beginning with Rick Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania – to help conclude the primary by joining the Romney effort.
As Romney was speaking in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, his criticism of union bosses pumping the money from compulsory union dues into political efforts was noteworthy. This very topic has been very much on the minds of Wisconsin voters lately. Romney also drew a strong comparison between his pledge to rebuild the American opportunity society, and Barack Obama’s efforts to “transform” America.