PRIMARY UPDATE: Romney Wins Lite
April 4, 2012
By Jim Ellis
While Mitt Romney won the three primary elections last night, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, and Maryland, he again he failed to break the 50% mark when facing a full slate of GOP opponents. He claimed 70% in DC, and all 17 Winner-Take-All delegates, but Pennsylvania former Sen. Rick Santorum was not on the ballot.
In swing Wisconsin, though Romney won, his 42-38% margin over Santorum was again unimpressive. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) placed third with 12%, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's 6%. But, Maryland might have been a bit more surprising. Though it was a clean win for Romney, as all expected, he still couldn't break the 50% threshold even there. The latest tally showed Romney at 49% and Santorum posting 29%.
Both Maryland and Wisconsin award delegates on a statewide and congressional district basis. Obviously Romney will win the statewide delegates in both places, but it remains to be seen if he sweeps all eight districts in both places. Once the congressional tallies are known, each state's delegate allocation will be then formulated.
All in all a good night for Romney, and he likely will attain his cumulative minimum delegate goals for the three states. The question remains, however, are plurality victories at this stage of the campaign enough to ward off the possibility of an open convention? With places like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia still to vote, it is very likely that the remaining states will not be sweeps for the current front runner. Romney, of course, is expected to do well in New York, New Jersey, California, and Utah, but even winning all of these contests may not give him the 1,144 delegate commitments a candidate needs to clinch the nomination. The uncommitted and unbound delegates may, in the end, be needed to put Mr. Romney over the top.
Congressional primaries were also held in Maryland and the results generated few surprises. One election forged a surprising path, but the outcome became a foregone conclusion within the last two weeks. Businessman John Delaney scored a major 54-29% win over state Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola in the 6th District Democratic primary. Garagiola was a driving force in changing the 6th to his liking during redistricting so that he could challenge 85-year old GOP incumbent Roscoe Bartlett in a seat that is now much more favorable to Democrats than the one he represented for the past 20 years.
On the Republican side, Mr. Bartlett drew seven Republican primary challengers including a state Senator and a member of the House of Delegates. With such a crowded field, two things were obvious from the start. First, Bartlett, despite having a substantially new district, would likely win with less than a majority because people had so many candidates from which to choose including two with constituencies, and secondly, the anti-incumbent vote would be split seven ways. Combined, the two elements virtually guaranteed the Congressman renomination, and such did happen. Mr. Bartlett won 44-20-10% over state Sen. David Brinkley and Del. Kathy Afzali, respectively. The remaining four candidates all placed in single digits.
The general election will be hard fought as Bartlett has shown new spark as a candidate despite his age and lack of facing first tier political competition for more than a decade. The newly constructed MD-6 now becomes one of the best Democratic conversion opportunities in the country.
Jim Ellis is a professional election analyst who has worked in national campaign politics and grassroots issue advocacy since 1978. He currently writes and speaks as a member of the PRIsm Information Network.