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Morning Jay: In Wisconsin, Romney Develops Momentum

1:25 AM, Apr 4, 2012 • By JAY COST
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However, this is much easier said than done. His biggest problem is the unfriendly territory left. Of the 20 contests still remaining, I would count Romney the clear favorite in 11 of them, and Santorum in just 6. Plus, Romney still has huge delegate hauls waiting for him California and New York. That means that it is not simply enough for Santorum to hold his core coalition together, he also has to start making inroads into Romney’s base vote – the upscale, the urban/suburban, the moderate and somewhat conservative. He has not begun to do that yet, and the end is quickly approaching.

A second problem: It is unclear to me that Santorum is a slam-dunk for winning the Keystone State. The polls have shown a tightening race, the core demographics favor Romney, and Santorum is not beloved there, having lost 16 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of conservatives to Bob Casey Jr. in 2006. Factor in Romney’s considerable financial advantage and the growing air of inevitability around his candidacy, and I would count this race a toss-up at this point.

Third, and perhaps most significant of all is the sustained calls from the grand poo-bahs of the GOP for Santorum to exit. These chants have already begun, to little effect so far, but Santorum’s concern has to be that voters in his coalition (or those in Romney’s coalition who might be persuaded) start to heed that message, and coalesce around Romney. We saw something similar happen to Rick Perry after his defeat in Iowa – he pledged to go on to South Carolina, and fought on for a little while, but his dreadful poll position suggested that the writing was on the wall.

So, in the final analysis, I would conclude that the results in Wisconsin suggest that the race is not quite over, but it is looking more likely than ever before that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee in the 2012 general election. 

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