We are 31-odd hours away from polls closing in D.C., Maryland, and Wisconsin. Unless every pollster is wrong -- perhaps, you know, they're nostalgic for New Hampshire 2008 -- Mitt Romney will win all three states. (Nobody's polling D.C., where Santorum isn't even on the ballot) Public Policy Polling gives Romney a 2-1 lead in Maryland and a 7-point lead in Wisconsin, and suggests that the only thing saving Romney from a blowout is independent voters. All those bored Republicans are coagulating around him, finally, at last.
[Romney] he leads with Tea Party voters in both states, 43-34 in Maryland and 46-38 in Wisconsin. He's also becoming more competitive with Evangelical voters, leading 43-36 with them in Maryland and trailing only 47-35 with them in Wisconsin... [Santorum] actually trails Romney 50-36 with Republican voters.
The electorate is like Tom Servo at the end of The Wild, Wild, World of Batwoman, screaming "End! EENNNND!" at the TV screen as it plays yet more b-roll of Rick Santorum feeding cheese to people.
How far ahead will Romney be if he pulls this off? Well:
- D.C. awards 16 delegates to whoever wins the primary. For comparison: Rick Santorum's landslide in Louisiana gave him a net 5 delegate win, 10 delegates total.
- Maryland awards 37 delegates -- 10 to whoever wins the state, three from each of the eight congressional districts. A Romney landslide would give him somewhere between 31 and 37 districts. (Western Maryland does seem like Santorum country; urban Baltimore might go the way of urban Richmond, Va., and deny its votes to Romney.)
- Wisconsin gets to hand out 46 delegates using the same basic rules as Maryland.
You see now why Santorum is spending all of his time in Wisconsin, yet fleeing the state tomorrow for Pennsylvania rally. He might end up cutting Romney's Wisconsin advantage by nabbing a few congressional districts. Let's say he loses badly in Maryland, loses the popular vote in Wisconsin, but wins five of its eight districts. He'll end the day with 15 delegates to Romney's 84. Reporters will start re-using the "Santorum needs a breakthrough win" narrative in... Pennsylvania.
Alternatively, let's imagine Santorum pulling off a squeaker in Wisconsin and winning five of eight districts. He wins the big contest of the day! Romney wins the day anyway, with 60 delegates to Santorum's 39. You see the problem.