The GOP Primary Campaign Parade marches through Wisconsin, the District of Columbia and Maryland tomorrow night. If projections turn out to be correct will mark the end of the end of the process.
As of last night, according to RealClearPolitics.com, Mitt Romney had 566 delegates, Rick Santorum had 263, Newt Gingrich - 140, and Ron Paul - 67. The magic number, as everyone has known since Iowa's caucuses on January 3, is 1,144 meaning Romney is 578 delegates short.
All three jurisdictions are winner-take-all. The total number of delegates at stake are 42 (Wis), 37 (Md) and 19 (DC). If Romney, as expected, wins all three he will have 664 delegates - still 480 shy of the needed number.
The latest poll in Wisconsin has Romney leading Santorum.
If Santorum gets blanked tomorrow night he will still be 881 votes short. Time is also short.
The most recent Rasmussen poll has Romney with a 10 point lead in Wisconsin 44-34. Gingrich and Paul are bringing up the rear at seven a piece.
In the national Gallup five-day tracking poll, Romney is leading Santorum by 15 percentage points 42-27. Gingrich is at 11 percent and Paul is at 10.
Last week Santorum got angry at a New York Times reporter for asking him for a clarification about something Santorum said about Romney in a stump speech. Santorum got agitated, lashed out at Jeff Zeleny (who is as mild mannered as any reporter on the trail) saying that the question was "Bull****."
Santorum was working a rope line but kept coming back to Zeleny, unable to shake it off.
When I was asked about it on CNN, I said the race had entered the 3-F stage for the candidates trying to catch up to Romney:
Santorum came into this process with little hope, few expectations, and insufficient funding.
His surprise finish in Iowa - first a close second, then a close first - followed by his sweep of the Missouri-Minnesota-Colorado election were major boosts. His excellent debate performances along with Gingrich's collapse, not once but twice, made it appear to him (and to everyone else) he was a serious candidate with a real shot at the nomination.
As the process wore on, the debates stopped, Santorum's continued focus on social issues, rather than the economy appeared to wear thin everywhere but the deep south. The money slowed and the frustration of Romney getting good press - even in the face of regular "gaffes" had to be like a grain of sand in Santorum's eye.
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