Between conference papers, grading, reading journal submissions and prepping for lecture, I couldn’t live blog tonight even if I wanted to, but I did want to post a brief update on the state of the nomination race after today’s primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. The short story is that this is a good night for Mitt Romney who, the networks are projecting, is likely to win all three contests. More importantly, he’s likely to win 80 or more delegates tonight, leaving Rick Santorum to take maybe a dozen delegates, give or take a few. None of this is surprising, given the demographics of the three states. In Wisconsin, evangelicals constituted about 37% of voters, according to exit polls – far below the 50% threshold that has to date signified a certain Santorum victory. In Maryland they constituted 38% of the vote. At this point in the race, much as we saw in the latter stages of the Democratic primary fight in 2008, demographics are destiny, and the demographics of these three states favored Romney.
Meanwhile, media pundits are clearly hoping to create the impression that the Republican race is over by talking about the momentum Romney will pick up because of his victories tonight. The reality is that Romney’s victories tonight may affect the media coverage, but they likely will have almost no impact on the next set of primaries which take place on April 24, and which will include Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania. (Amy Walter is now tweeting that the Wisconsin results finally put an end to the Republican primary because he did better among some demographic groups than he did among those groups in Ohio. This is nonsense, of course.) Note that in both Wisconsin and Maryland, Romney’s support, once again, increases as we go up the income ladder. However, he did increase his support among lower income voters, relative to Santorum, at least in Wisconsin, compared to how he did in previous Midwestern contests. But given the margin of error in exit polls, it’s not clear this really signifies an expansion of his support. Note that as in previous contests, his support also increases among older voters.
Interestingly, among those voters who made up their mind today in Wisconsin (13% of voters), Santorum was the clear victor, 46%-27%; among the 35% who made up their mind in “the last few days”, Santorum won 42%-39%. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. In other shocking news – at least shocking to those watching the CNN coverage – Santorum once again does as well among women as he does among men in both Maryland and Wisconsin. Hard to believe, I know, given his statements about abortion, contraception, etc. He also outperforms his polling support in both Wisconsin and Maryland – not that this matters all that much in terms of delegates. But it does indicate that Romney hasn’t changed the dynamics of this race.
Bottom line tonight? The media will come out strong tomorrow about how tonight’s results indicate that Romney has regained momentum and is poised to close this nomination fight out. The reality is that tonight’s results change nothing; Romney went into tonight as the frontrunner, and he will come out as the frontrunner, but there’s no evidence that he’s gaining “momentum” or expanding his coalition.
Again, I apologize for the decrease in blogging frequency, but my day job is calling with increased frequency in recent days.