Building on my prior post last night “What the WI results tell us” I would like to add just a little about what it is notable about Romney’s victory in WI. Romney will net most likely 33 delegates out of Wisconsin. Santorum is likely to only get up to 9 delegates. This would not be so alarming for Santorum if for the fact that Romney’s victory in WI was notable. Romney is now officially the “inevitable nominee.”
Like in prior races Santorum dominated the rural counties of WI, largely based in NE and NW Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s rural counties are unique in the fact they have quite a few rural. white liberal voters. Romney by contrast dominated the suburbs of Milwaukee. Specifically the large and heavily populated counties of Racine, Washington, Kenosha and Racine. What is notable here though is that these suburbs are the heart and soul of not just the state GOP, but also the thriving conservative base of the party. These suburbs are far more conservative, fiscally and socially than the suburbs of Illinois, Ohio, or Pennsylvania, especially on social issues.
Romney’s breakthrough into Santorum’s core support, according to exit polls, did not occur along a regional context. Instead, many GOP voters in the Milwaukee suburbs who describe themselves as “very conservative” backed Romney. And this is what is notable about Romney’s victory in WI. It showed that for the first time Romney was able to find some sort of appeal to these voters. Meanwhile Santorum’s support stayed as stagnant as ever and did not move an inch. Further Santorum could not make inroads in a regional context and attract a majority of “very conservative” suburban voters.
As the campaign moves forward Romney likely can rest easy. His victory in WI cements his status as the party nominee and also shows that he can appeal to the party’s core, conservative support. If he can do this on a consistent basis and hold onto moderate Republicans and right-leaning independents in the general he can beat Obama and more importantly for the integrity of the party push Santorum out of the race.
Sure Romney as the “inevitable nominee” did not win a majority of “very conservative voters” and lost 62%-13% among those who valued being a true conservative as most important to their vote. But a much larger segment valued experience and the ability to beat Obama. Romney won both easily. Establishment and conservative Republicans are now lining up behind Romney and for Santorum that signifies the end of the line.
If Romney’s victory in WI is not just a one time instance (in other words not notable) than Santorum has a shot in PA on April 24th. But if not than Romney is set to effectively to end a primary race that every time it is talked about seems to lead to run-on sentences.