Winston Churchill once famously said, “this is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, it is perhaps the end of the beginning.” Churchill was obviously not referring to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign. As the polls currently indicate, Mitt Romney should win Wisconsin on Tuesday by a respectable margin. For all intents and purposes, this Midwest contest, should Romney prevail by a healthy margin, will signal the unofficial close to the 2012 Republican Primary.
Santorum has been able to keep his campaign alive by arguing that he is the true conservative alternative to Romney. But events over the last few weeks have undermined this argument. Not only did Romney receive some warm words from South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, the unofficial head of the Tea Party Caucus in the Senate, but he also received the official endorsements from Tea Partier and rising GOP star, Marco Rubio, the junior Senator from Florida, as well as the Tea Party’s favorite son, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. These endorsements, coupled by Romney’s continued strength amongst GOP elite, as demonstrated by his endorsements from both former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former President George H.W. Bush, cap off what is becoming so vividly apparent to everyone but Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich – Romney will be the Republican nominee.
Romney has wisely pivoted his focus from his GOP rivals to focusing his criticisms on President Obama, making him seem more and more like the Republican nominee every news cycle. Additionally, Gingrich’s announcement that he is trimming down his staff is yet another sign that the end is near. Santorum desperately needs a win in Wisconsin simply because the road doesn’t get any easier for him going forward. Wisconsin is the quintessential hardworking, blue-collar state where he supposedly does well, but loses in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and now (presumably) the Badger State undercut this argument. Additionally, Santorum has basically conceded the other two Tuesday primaries: Maryland and Washington, D.C. I am currently living in the nation’s capital and I can personally attest that the only candidate advertising here is Romney (and his Political Super PAC).
Without any more scheduled debates, it is hard to see how Newt Gingrich gets anymore bounces and with Santorum losing Wisconsin with no real favorable contests for him until April 24th (the contest I am referring to Santorum’s home state primary but even in this contest, Romney is surging to the point he is now statistically tied with Santorum), it is hard to imagine how Santorum can keep his campaign financially solvent to remain competitive with Romney’s juggernaut.
Don’t get me wrong, if Santorum and Gingrich stay in this race, they will undoubtedly receive some more votes and pickup some more delegates – Santorum may even win a state or two in the South/Pennsylvania – but Romney, as all the polls now indicate, should be able to officially close out this primary, even with his rivals staying in the race, on June 5th should he win the California primary. That may seem a long way away, but from the roller coster rides we have experienced in this GOP primary to date, it should be a fairly smooth ride for Romney, with a possible minor bump here and there, until June when he will be able to officially carry that coveted TV graphic under his name: “presumptive Republican nominee.”
And with this expected Romney win in Wisconsin, this primary will unofficially be over this Tuesday; I for one am very excited about the epic Obama-Romney battle to come.