CNN announced as the clock struck 8 p.m. ET that Mitt Romney would win Maryland. The network's exit poll data reveals that 48 percent of voters chose the former Massachusetts governor while 28 percent supported Rick Santorum, 11 percent voted for Newt Gingrich, and 10 percent for Ron Paul. Romney will take the lion's share of Maryland's 37 delegates, moving him officially past the halfway mark to the 1,444 delegates needed for nomination. One percent of the official numbers are now in, showing a margin consistent with the exit polling data.
This win in Maryland, coupled with his win in Washington, D.C. (sixteen delegates) and an excepted victory in Wisconsin tonight would put a stranglehold on Rick Santorum who's fighting calls to get out. With recent endorsements from Paul Ryan and former president George H. W. Bush, the GOP Establishment is eager to begin mobilizing around Romney so the party can prepare to take on President Obama.
Just yesterday it was announced that Romney would begin raising money jointly with the RNC.
One exit poll question asked what the most important candidate quality is. Forty-one percent answered that it's the ability to defeat Obama; of that group, 72 percent voted for Romney, while only 12 picked Santorum.
We're still a little while away from the Wisconsin results. It's worth noting that even if Romney does win all three primaries in commanding fashion, there's no guarantee he secures the 1,144 delegates to win the nomination outright. At least Newt Gingrich has said that he'll stick around until Romney hits that mark.