Mitt Romney had a good night as he won the District of Columbia primary winning 16 delegates there as expected. He is projected to win the Maryland Primary which has 37 delegates up for grabs. In the state where Rick Santorum had hoped for an upset Romney is also projected to win in Wisconsin which has 42 delegates with 15 being uncommitted.
Romney won the D.C. primary with over 70% of the vote.
In Maryland with 88.4% of the precincts reporting in Romney leads Santorum 48.6% to 29.3%. Newt Gingrich is third with 11% of the vote. Ron Paul came in 4th with 9.6%. It is much closer in Wisconsin with 80.8% of the precincts reporting in at the time of this writing. Romney has 42.2%, Santorum is 2nd with 37.8%, Paul, has 11.8% in 3rd, and Gingrich has 4th with 6.1%.
In the ABC exit polls in Wisconsin 8 in 10 voters believe that Romney will be the GOP nominee. Evangelicals were less of a factor in Wisconsin and in Maryland. Romney actually narrowly won the evangelical vote in Maryland. There was another interesting tidbit from the ABC Wisconsin exit poll:
Santorum, the darling of very conservative voters in the South, only about split them with Romney in Wisconsin. And in an unusual result Santorum also ran competitively in Wisconsin among moderate and liberal voters; the reason was a large turnout among independents and some Democrats in the state’s open primary. They accounted for about four in 10 voters, disproportionately were moderates or liberals, and backed Romney in far lesser numbers than did mainstream Republicans.
There were other challenges for the GOP frontrunner in the exit poll results, analyzed for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Just 37 percent in Wisconsin characterized Romney as “about right” ideologically,” fewer than the 44 percent who called him “not conservative enough.” And Santorum, as in the past, won broadly among the more than four in 10 voters who were focused chiefly on the “true conservative” or on “strong moral character” in a candidate.
Santorum again out performed all of the recent polling. He again won the rural vote. Romney again is still having a hard time with the base, but many are feeling like his nomination is inevitable and some are starting to warm to him.
The road ahead for Santorum is difficult. The rest of the primaries this month – Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have fewer evangelicals with more moderate Republican voters. Santorum in his concession speech tonight focuses his road on Pennsylvania where he hopes to see a shift. If he can win Pennsylvania he could possibly hold on for some friendlier contests coming up in May with Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas.
But the delegate math becomes more difficult for Santorum from here on out.