The Republican presidential campaign train heads to three more critical primary states Tuesday, featuring one state that some believe will set the final tone for this long nomination battle. GOP primary voters in the critical swing state of Wisconsin, along with those from the District of Columbia and Maryland will have the opportunity of making their sentiments known. Could a strong night from favored candidate Mitt Romney effectively clinch the nomination? The Romney campaign will make every effort to sell such a premise, but the official confirmed delegate count doesn’t support such a story.
The District of Columbia is a straight Winner-Take-All primary, meaning that the candidate attracting the most votes, almost assuredly Romney, will win all 17 DC delegates. Maryland and Wisconsin are Winner-Take-All by state and congressional district, meaning the candidate winning the statewide vote receives an allocated number of delegates and additional votes for every congressional district in which the candidate places first. Therefore, for Romney to claim all 96 delegates at stake tomorrow (DC-17; MD-37; WI-42), he would have to win DC, take the Maryland and Wisconsin statewide tallies, and finish first in all eight congressional districts in both states. This is certainly a tall order, especially with the polling showing Wisconsin to be relatively close.
Three Badger State polls were released late last week, all showing Romney leading, but with Rick Santorum within shouting distance. It is important to remember that the pollsters have tended to underestimate Santorum’s strength in previous primary or caucus election votes, so anything can still happen.
In a study labeled their “March 2012” survey of 740 registered voters who say they will vote in the April 3 Republican primary, the Marist/NBC News Wisconsin poll gives Romney a 40-33 percent lead over Santorum. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) and Newt Gingrich trail with 11 and 8 percent, respectively.
Rasmussen Reports (March 29; 71 likely Wisconsin GOP voters) posts Romney to a 44-34 percent advantage. According to RR, Paul and Gingrich follow with 7 percent apiece.
The Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College survey (March 24-28; 403 likely Wisconsin voters) scores it 37-32 percent, Romney over Santorum with Paul at 8 percent and Gingrich registering 4 percent.
In all of these instances, while Romney leads the field he is nowhere near 50 percent. This has been the consistent pattern throughout the entire election and the reason he is not yet in nomination clinching range.
So far, according to our PRIsm Information Network count of the minimum number of post-Super Tuesday delegates that Romney must confirm, the former Massachusetts governor has attracted an unofficial 139 delegate votes. The minimum number to stay on track from the 11 states and territories voting after March 6, is 132. Mr. Romney needs to secure at least 76 of the available 96 delegate votes tomorrow in order to keep pace. To win the Republican nomination, a candidate must obtain 1,144 delegate votes at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in late August.