In the last primary season, back in 2008, three political entities clustered around the Potomac River all voted on the same day, and thus was born "Crab Cake Tuesday." This year, for some inexplicable reason, Virginia has decided not to vote on the same day as Maryland and the District of Columbia, and (again, inexplicably) Wisconsin replaced Virginia. Linking these three in a cute label has become much tougher as a direct result. The only thing we could come up with was "Crabby Badger Tuesday," which... well, we admit it, it's just too downright bizarre to be considered cute.
So we do apologize for the title of today's column, and invite others to come up with their own name for today's voting in the comments, if you should feel so inclined.
But enough of such nonsense, let's get on with our tradition of predicting the outcomes of today's races. As always, we start with a quick peek at our scoreboard for the year. The last contest was held in Louisiana, where we accurately predicted a Santorum win, which slightly boosted our score for the season:
Total correct 2012 primary picks so far: 38 for 57 -- 67%.
With that out of the way, let's move quickly on to our picks for tonight's races, which I regret to say, are about as conventional as you can get. In order of smallest-to-largest:
This one's pretty easy, since Rick Santorum (whoops!) forgot to get his name on the ballot. Romney wins overwhelmingly -- perhaps by his biggest margin yet. Newt will likely come in a very distant second, over Ron Paul. No polling has been available for the District, but this seems like a pretty safe guess at this point.
Mitt Romney wins a decisive victory in Maryland as well. If the polls can be believed, he'll likely get around twice the votes Santorum will manage, with Gingrich lucky to crack into double digits, and Ron Paul managing only fourth place.
Wisconsin seems to be the race everyone's paying the most attention to, which is why we saved it for last. The Badger State would seem, geographically at least, to be a prime pickup for Santorum, as all the states he has so far won are contiguous on a map. Santorum has already won two of the four states which touch Wisconsin (Minnesota and Iowa), meaning Wisconsin would fit right in to his stronghold in the South and the Plains.
But the other two states which touch Wisconsin are Illinois and Michigan, and demographically Wisconsin is closer to these than to the states further west. This has shown up in the polling, where Romney has been maintaining what appears to be a 7-to-10 point lead.
The media may have missed it by focusing too much on Romney's "joke" about his dad closing down auto plants, but George Romney had strong ties to Wisconsin. The American Motors Corporation built Ramblers (and other cars we won't bother mentioning) in Kenosha for years and years -- something the older Wisconsin residents may fondly remember.
In any case, we're going to go with the conventional wisdom here, and call the state for Romney. Santorum will pick up second place in a closer race than the other two being held today, and Newt Gingrich will be embarrassed by a fourth-place finish behind Ron Paul.
The pundit universe appears to be ready to call the Republican race all but over should Romney win here decisively, but then my guess is that they're too addicted to the horserace aspect of our national nominating contest, and will continue to breathlessly present each primary or caucus as "a possible game-changer" for at least another month.
Those are my predictions, what are yours?
[Previous states' picks:]
[IA] [NH] [SC] [FL] [NV] [CO, MN, and MO] [ME] [AZ and MI] [WA] [Super Tuesday: AK, GA, ID, MA, ND, OH, OK, TN, VT, and VA] [Guam, KS, Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas] [Puerto Rico] [IL] [LA]
-- Chris Weigant
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant