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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Wisconsin, Maryland, Washington DC Preview

Worst blog post title ever?  I think so.  Moving on as quickly as possible...

Today are three boring contests.  There's little analysis left in the 2012 Republican Primary.  If you read my posts this weekend, you saw when we can expect Mitt Romney to reach 1,144 delegates, and when we can expect Rick Santorum to drop out.  Still, like I said over at Construction yesterday: Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee of the Republican Party. This aura of inevitability, unfortunately, puts us in “no man’s land.” The GOP Primary is over, but it’s not quite the general election yet, either.

Here we are, then, watching another night of primaries, though, we'll do so with only one eye.  Here's a brief preview of each primary tonight.

District of Columbia Primary (16 bound + 3 RNC = 19 delegates)
We'll start with Washington DC as it's not only the easiest to predict, but its delegate rules are also the easiest to understand.  Simply, DC's 16 bound delegates are winner-take-all.  Additionally, Rick Santorum isn't even on the ballot.  Expect a romp by Romney--including an immediate call by the networks when DC's polls close) and 16 more delegates added to his commanding lead.  (Gingrich and Paul will continue to be non-factors.)

Maryland Primary (34 bound + 3 RNC = 37 delegates)
The rules get a bit trickier here, but are still straight-forward.  Ten of the 34 delegates are awarded to the statewide winner.  The remaining 24 are determined by the 8 congressional districts--3 delegates each--and each district itself is winner-take all.  In other words, if a candidate wins the state with 40 percent of the vote, and wins each of the districts with 40 percent of the vote, that candidate would clear all 34 bound delegates, even if the runner-up finished with 39 percent of the vote in the state and each district.

This will be a good test as to how much the Republican Party has rallied to Mitt Romney.  Can he win 50 percent or more in every district?  Rick Santorum has always had strength away from the urban areas, but since Maryland never gets too rural, can Santorum find a way to steal any one of the eight?

I doubt it.  I see 34 more delegates for Romney (and another immediate network projection when Maryland polls close).  I'm most interested to see if he can clear 50 percent statewide and in each district against all three competitors (he surely will in the District of Columbia without Santorum on the ballot).  Look for him to hover right above that number, with Santorum in the mid-to-high 20s, Gingrich in the low teens, and Ron Paul happy if he reaches double-digits.

Wisconsin Primary (42 bound delegates)
Long thought to be Rick Santorum's best chance at an April 3 win, Wisconsin now looks to be the third piece of a Mitt Romney sweep.  The last handful of Wisconsin polls reveal Romney with a solid, consistent lead of five to ten points.  The primary rules for Wisconsin are identical to Maryland, only with Wisconsin being a bit weightier.  Of the 42 bound delegates, 18 go to the winner of the state's popular vote, then three per district (there are 8) make up the other 24.

Here we can finally expect Santorum to pick up some delegates, but not many.  By winning the state, Romney will win the 18 at-large delegates.  Of the eight districts, however, Santorum can probably win two or three.  Therefore, Romney will come away with 33 to 36 Wisconsin delegates, while Santorum will win 6 to 9.  (At least we won't have three contests immediately called by the news networks.  I'd say we might get an hour out of Wisconsin.)

As CNN covers the contests tonight, they will of course break down the Wisconsin exit polls.  What we can expect to see is that the number one issue on the voters' minds is Republican unity/defeating President Obama.  Santorum's run nears its end.

In total (98 delegates):
Romney wins around 90
Santorum wins 6-9.  (12 with some luck.)
Gingrich--0
Paul--0

And some people say this isn't over yet?  Please.

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