Predictable sweep: Romney wins Wisconsin, Maryland, and D.C.
We were going to live-blog the Republican primaries in Maryland, D.C., and Wisconsin this evening, but, really, what was the point?
It looked like a Romney sweep going in, and a Romney sweep it was. Or will be, once the returns are all in.
Right now, at 10:53 pm:
He's beating Santorum 48 to 30 in Maryland (with Gingrich at 11 and Paul at 10) -- 59% reporting.
He's beating Paul 70 to 12 in Washington, D.C. (with Gingrich at 11 and Santorum off the ballot) -- 58% reporting.
And he's beating Santorum 42 to 38 in Wisconsin (with Paul at 12 and Gingrich at 6) -- 71% reporting.
What does it all mean? Just that Romney moves further out in front and is now the even likelier winner. But we knew that already.
So the only news, and we see it in how the media are reporting the results and trying to make something of tonight's results, is that Romney now has more than half of the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination.
All of which is to say, it's over. Not that that's news, but we can now stop talking about the Republican race, other than a mention here and there, and get on with things.
The only hope for Santorum was a win in Wisconsin to balance Romney's wins in Maryland and D.C. That looked like a possibility as recently as a few weeks ago, but Romney was well ahead in all the recent polls.
Simply put, Santorum has run out of steam. Credit him for coming out of a distant nowhere and emerging as the voice of the right, and for a time of the anti-Romney majority of the GOP, but he was always at a huge disadvantage against Romney, mostly in terms of money and organization but also in terms of not having the party establishment behind him at all, and it was only going to be a matter of time until Romney finished him off.
After losses in Alabama and Mississippi on March 13, Illinois on March 20 was a decisive victory for Romney, a reminder of Romney's broader if still deeply limited appeal -- and of the inevitability of an eventual Romney win. Today, particularly the vote in Wisconsin, just adds to that.
So what now? Well, we have three weeks until five primaries in Romney's northeastern stronghold: New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware. He will win all five -- yes, he'll win Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania. And then it will really be over, even if Santorum and/or Gingrich stay in the race.
So that's it. A big, if numbingly predictable, night for Romney.