ByÂ ALEXANDER BURNSÂ |Politico
The long, draining Republican primary season may finally have reached a turning point Tuesday, with Mitt Romney on his way to sweeping three contests in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and potentially dealing a decisive blow to his most dogged foe, Rick Santorum.
Romney is projected to win both Maryland and the nationâ€™s capital; he had 50 percent of the Maryland vote with 12 percent of precincts reporting and 68 percent of the D.C. vote with 14 percent of precincts in. There was little mystery surrounding the outcome in either contest as Santorum wasnâ€™t on the ballot in D.C. and Romney led by huge margins in Maryland polling.
TheÂ WisconsinÂ contest is likely to be the marquee result: both Romney and Santorum have campaigned heavily there and the super PACs supporting them have spent substantial sums on the air.
There, too, Romney is the favorite, maintaining a 7-point edge in polling conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, and NBC News and Marist College. Network exit polling showed 83 percent of Wisconsin primary voters now believe Romney will ultimately be the GOP nominee, according to CBS News.
Should Romney lock upÂ the trio of elections, it will come after a run of top GOP establishment endorsements for the former Massachusetts governor. Having struggled throughout the 2012 race to bring heavyweight national Republicans around to his team, Romney recentlyÂ won the backingÂ of Wisconsin Rep. and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
That means a Romney victory tonight would likely increase the pressure on Santorum, as well as Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, to clear the way for a Romney nomination and allow the GOP to focus on challenging President Barack Obama.
In prepared remarks for his Wisconsin election-night party, Romney made yet another attempt to put the primary behind him and turn his focus to Obama, looking ahead to the next round of primaries and ridiculing the president as â€œa little bit out of touch.â€
To read more, visit:Â http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/74794.html#ixzz1r26M4eVi
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