Turn off the lights, send the fans home, let the losers hit the showers—this game is over: Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential nominee. This much is certain after the former Massachusetts governor swept the three primaries (Wisconsin, Maryland, and Washington DC) held on Tuesday. Just to make things a bit interesting: if anyone adamantly disagrees with my above prediction, add this article to your bookmarks, take a screenshot on your phone – just save it. Should Mr. Romney not be the nominee, present to me this article and I will gladly place in your hand a crisp $5 bill.
It’s not likely that he will lose, though. Mr. Romney’s three wins Tuesday now mean he has won 25 of the 37 primary contests held to this point. His victories this week gave him 76 more delegates – pushing him well past the halfway mark for the required total of 1,144. As it currently stands, Mr. Romney has a whopping 655 delegates, nearly 2.5 times the number of his nearest competitor, Rick Santorum, who has just 278. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Congressman Ron Paul have provided little resistance, with 135 and 51 delegates, respectively. (Yes, Mr. Romney won more delegates on Tuesday than Mr. Paul has won throughout the entire process.)
Sure, there are still 19 primaries to go, including those in the more socially conservative states of Nebraska, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Texas, states in which Mr. Santorum and Mr. Paul stand a good chance to stage an upset. In the mix, however, are Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Oregon, New Jersey, and California. Truth be told, I don’t see Mr. Romney losing any of the latter. Even if the first list goes entirely against him, sweeping the second list would result in 481 more delegates, pushing Mr. Romney’s total to 1,136, more or less clinching the nomination. In addition, as some states award delegates based on proportions – while others award all delegates to the winner – narrow second place finishes do not in any way hurt the former Massachusetts governor’s chances.
In Wisconsin, where Mr. Romney won by nearly 5 points over Mr. Santorum, 8 out of 10 voters surveyed in exit polls said the former would be the eventual nominee. So strong is this belief that nearly two-thirds of those who voted for Mr. Santorum agreed! Confidence in Mr. Romney was reflected in Maryland, where he won with an astounding 70.2% of the vote. D.C. followed a similar storyline, with the former Bain CEO winning with an impressive 71%.
Over this seemingly-endless campaign season, Mr. Romney has seen his likely nomination at times blocked my flavor-of-the-month candidates like Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and even Newt Gingrich. Where are they now? Save for Mr. Gingrich, who may as well throw in the towel, the others’ campaigns ended before the new year. Even Mr. Romney’s most consistent competitor, Mr. Santorum, does not stand a realistic chance – in the national Gallup poll, the Mr. Romney is ahead by a huge 15 point margin.
The GOP head honchos are lining up their support for Mr. Romney. In recent weeks, endorsements have come in from Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Jim DeMint. Even the Obama campaign team are proclaiming Mr. Romney as their November opponent. This is the first week that the president’s campaign directly criticized Mr. Romney by name in an ad, specifically for his apparent connection with Paul Ryan’s most recent awful budget proposal.
The writing on the wall is clear: Mitt Romney will be challenging President Obama in November. The Republican top dogs can read it, and even the president can read it. When will Mr. Santorum, Mr. Gingrich, and Mr. Paul call off their futile efforts and open their eyes?