In a night where no surprises were expected, none were had. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has won all five states up for grabs in today’s primary elections.
On the ballot today were Romney, former Senator Rick Santorum (who dropped out too late to have his name wiped from the slate), former Congressman Newt Gingrich and Congressman Ron Paul.
For a time in this frantic, tumultuous, protracted primary season, it was thought that these Northeast states might have a meaningful say in the outcome of the race to the Republican presidential nomination. But when Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10th, Romney officially took on the mantle of President Barack Obama’s top challenger.
Now that the polls are closed and over 90 percent of the votes have been tallied, the results reflect an unequivocal win for Romney. According to the Associated Press, he received over 55 percent of the vote in each state, climbing up to nearly 68 percent in Connecticut.
Santorum’s numbers did not break 10 percent in any state except his home state of Pennsylvania, where he climbed to over 18 percent. Gingrich and Paul, however, raked in consistently modest but notable results — Gingrich topping 27 percent in Delaware and Paul approaching 25 percent in Rhode Island.
Romney’s victory speech reflected his new status as presumptive nominee, as he attacked Obama.
“Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better!” he said from a celebration in New Hampshire. “The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it’s not the best America can do!”
But the inevitability of Romney’s win also resulted in an extremely low turn-out. In New York City, even at a heavily Republican polling site, traffic was nearly non-existent. Public School 52 in Staten Island houses six election districts that are home to 1433 registered Republicans. But by 2:00 p.m., only a handful of voters had cast their ballot. In one election district with approximately 250 eligible voters, only two had checked the box for their candidate of choice.
Polling site coordinator Rosemarie Catrama has been working election days at P.S. 52 for five years, but this was one of the quietest she’s seen.
“I think most of the people know who the Republican primary candidate is going to be, so there’s not much to choose from this time,” she said.
Despite the certainty of today’s election results, the nomination will not be official until the Republican convention in late August, and Romney does not yet have the 1144 delegates he needs to lock that in. But tonight’s election results bring him much closer to the magic number.
The 2011-2012 Republican nominating contest began more than a year ago, well in advance of the first caucus in Iowa on January 3.
Until now, Romney was never able to completely break away from the pack. His front-runner status was always in question as Santorum surged and Gingrich held on.
Today’s sweep of wins finally gives Romney an official trouncing of his rivals. But it also puts to an effective end the roller coaster ride of a primary season has gone from something like Space Mountain to something more like the tea cup ride at Disney World.
Over a year ago, Donald Trump took the presidential primary stage. He grabbed attention by professing the “birther” argument, suggesting that Obama was not born in the United States even though the claim had been repeatedly debunked.
Herman Cain’s candidacy spiked and then plummeted this fall amid major gaffes and multiple allegations of workplace sexual harassment.
In August, 2011, Congresswoman and Tea Party firebrand Michelle Bachmann won what’s known as the Ames straw poll in Iowa, which some pundits said was a sign her candidacy stood a chance of victory in that state’s official primary contest. But her numbers did not sustain her, bringing her only a paltry sixth-place finish.
For a time it seemed that Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, might walk off with the nomination. His candidacy took off as conservative Republicans rallied around him. But after a memory meltdown during a live televised debate in which he could not recall one of the three federal agencies he would seek to shutter, his campaign floundered and never recovered.
Not long after he announced his candidacy for president, Newt Gingrich sailed off on a cruise with his wife. Soon, the political punditry declared his campaign dead as his organization seemed scrambled and his coffers seemed to run dry. But the former Speaker of the House made a surprise comeback in late 2011, surging in the polls and giving Romney yet another run for his money.
Gingrich’s numbers had cooled in the weeks before the Iowa caucus — the nation’s first primary contest. Few predicted Santorum’s win there, and it was indeed so close that the 34 vote margin wasn’t declared until more than two weeks later.
Since the primary elections started to roll across the country, most of the votes have been shared among Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, with nominal but consistent numbers going to Paul. Though Romney pulled out several victories, it was never enough to shake off his competitors and cinch the nomination.
Finally, with tonight’s cluster of unquestionable wins, the Romney campaign can officially call his nomination inevitable — something they had been hoping, and trying to do throughout the past year.