After a ten-day lull, the GOP campaign for president resumes this week with three primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Washington DC. Fresh off a series of high-profile endorsements from Paul Ryan, George HW Bush, and Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney is hoping the Wisconsin primary will serve as a testing ground for his electability and momentum as he seeks to lock up the nomination this spring.
PolicyMic will be following the results in Wisconsin live. Check back and refresh this page for live updates.
UPDATE: TUESDAY Is this the end of Santorum?
Watch Santorum's speech after the Maryland, DC, and Wisconsin primaries:
10:00 PM Romney has a chance to win all of the 92 delegates at stake Tuesday, with 39 coming from Wisconsin, 37 from Maryland, and 16 from Washington.
9:50 Santorum is Too Conservative? According to exit polls, 29% of Republicans said they thought that Santorum's positions were too conservative. This was against 23% who said they were not conservative enough. Another 41% of voters said that Santorum's positions were "about right."
9:37 PM Romney took 41% of the vote, Santorum 39%, Paul 11%, and Gingrich 6%.
9:30 Mitt Romney Wins Wisconsin
9:15 PM Santorum Up Early: With 1% of polling stations reporting, Santorum has taken an early lead, with 44% of the vote. Romeny currently has 37%, Paul 11%, and Gingrich 6%.
9:03 PM Wisconsin exit polls show Romney doing better with higher-earners & Santorum with lower-income voters.
8:52 Just FYI: President Obama clinches the Democratic presidential nomination by winning primaries in D.C. and Maryland.
8:45 PM Economic recovery: About half of early voters in Maryland say the nation’s economy is getting worse, close to three in 10 say it is staying the same and fewer than a quarter see it starting to recover. Wisconsin early voters are slightly less gloomy. Just over four in 10 see things getting worse, with more than a quarter each seeing things holding steady or getting better.
8:22 PM Mitt Romney predicts he'll be the GOP presidential nominee before the convention.
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney told Wisconsin supporters this afternoon that if he wins the Wisconsin GOP primary on Tuesday, he’ll be chosen as the Republican nominee for president before the GOP convention, the Associated Press reported.
“If I can get that boost also from Wisconsin, I think we’ll be on a path that’ll get me the nomination well before the convention,” he said at an appearance at a Republican call center, the AP reported.
“This was an uphill battle for me if you looked back three or four weeks ago,” he added. “And now we’re looking like we’re going to win this thing on Tuesday.”
8:18 PM Newt's wife is a Wisconsin native. He travels there often. And yet the exit polls indicate he will come in a very distant fourth there.
8:10 PM Wisconsin Republicans like Scott Walker: According to exit polls, more than eight in 10 Republican voters in Wisconsin approve of Gov. Scott Walker, including seven in 10 who approve “strongly.” Walker faces a recall election on June 5, incited by a showdown last year with public employee unions.
8:00 PM Traditional values - Nearly six in 10 Republican primary voters in Wisconsin say the “government should do more to promote traditional values” in preliminary exit poll data. Fewer than four in 10 say government should not favor one set of values over another.
7:40 PM Romney Gaining Enthusiasm Among Voters According to AP exit polls, 80% of Republicans who voted today in Wisconsin expect Romney to be the GOP presidential nominee. Romney is slowly but surely become the inevitable candidate.
Low Turnout in the Badger State: According to exit polls, Republicans account for fewer than six in 10 voters in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary according to preliminary exit polls, marking a sharp downturn from 2008
Four years ago, they made up 73 percent of voters, well above the roughly six in 10 in Tuesday’s contest. In the early exit poll data, about three in 10 voters identify as independents, up from four years ago, and the proportion of Democrats has more than doubled.
5:10 PM Ron Paul Turnout Hurt by Spring Break and Mitt Romney Can't Relate to the Working Man in Wisconsin: PolicyMic pundit Christine Harbine shares her thoughts:
What are your friends saying about the election?
My friend who is a vocal Democrat says that he is voting for Mitt Romney in the primary because, “I want this to be over and Romney isn't terrible.” He tells me that he knows some Democrats who say they will vote for Santorum because they think he'll be easy to beat.
Are there any other local factors that could play a role about how many people vote, like the weather or traffic?
University of Wisconsin -Madison is on spring break this week. This may mean there will be fewer votes for Ron Paul in Dane County.
Additionally, it's been unseasonably warm in Wisconsin, so weather will not be a reason keeping people from the polls. The only place that has traffic in Wisconsin is Madison, and traffic is nothing in Milwaukee. Also, Madison and Milwaukee tend to have strong Democratic leaning, so even if there were traffic, it wouldn’t have a big effect on the Republican primary.
Describe the radio, television, and web ads that are playing.
My mom tells me that she gets a lot of robo-calls about the election. “It is annoying,” she says. I spoke with a friend of mine who was recently visiting her grandparents in Wisconsin, and she tells me that they got a house call from Santorum's or Romney's campaign nearly every day.
The TV ads running in Wisconsin are all negative. My friend admits that she is already decided on Romney, but regardless, the negative ads frustrated her, no matter at whom they were directed. Some of Romney calls include a policy briefing from Townhall, which she found to be informative, and she felt that Romney built credibility during that time.
My friend also comments on Romney’s continuing inability to relate to working-class people. For example, in one call, he recounted a story about when his dad shut down manufacturing in Michigan and “offshored" it to Wisconsin. Later on his dad was in a parade when he ran for governor and the band marching in front of him only knew how to play On Wisconsin rather than the Michigan fight song, which obviously didn't go over well with the crowd. Even though this was intended to be humorous, it’s difficult to imagine that people who lost their manufacturing job would find it funny. “He would have been better off talking about cheese,” my friend says.
There are also a lot of Walker ads — both for and against the Walker recall — even though it won’t occur until June.
Regarding the upcoming Walker Recall:
My thoughts are that the recall should not be happening and is a waste of taxpayer’s money. The purpose of a recall should be for clear wrongdoing by an elected official. This is not about that at all. If an elected official abuses power, he or she should be recalled. If an elected official supports legislation which you oppose however, there is nothing inherently wrong with that. If an elected official supports legislation which you oppose, you should focus on the legislation and not the individual. Work through due process to modify or change the legislation, but do not recall the elected official. Even if I were opposed to the recently passed legislation, I would still not support the recall effort.
11:40 AM Ron Paul Supporter Confronts Mitt Romney Over Mormon Faith: According to the Washington Post, a Ron Paul supporter, 28-year-old Bret Hatch, asked Romney whether he agreed with a passage from the Book of Mormon that describes a cursing of people with a “skin of blackness.” Romney’s staff took away the microphone before the Green Bay man could read the passage.
"I’m sorry, we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view, but if you have a question I’ll be happy to answer your question," Romney said Monday.
"I guess my question is — do you believe it’s a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black?" Hatch asked.
"No. Next question," Romney responded tersely, turning his back to Hatch and looking for another raised hand.
Santorum Giving Up on April Primaries: “This is a series of states— you know, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, and D.C. and Maryland — these are not conservative states,” he said of those voting in April. May, however, “is rich with delegates and are strong states for us,” he noted, such as Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, and North Carolina.
8:50 AM The Washington Post reports that Romney has shifted subtley into general election mode, focusing his attacks on Barack Obama, not his GOP challengers.
Romney traveled across the state with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who has reportedly developed chemistry with Romney over four straight days together on the campaign trail.
After a speech in Appleton, Wis., on Friday, Romney asked voters to join him and “walk together this Tuesday — and take another step every day until November 6th.”
8:45 AM Stumping throgh five towns in eastern Wisconsin, Santorum called on supporters on Monday to take an "opportunity to shock the world," and help him win the nomination.
"I ask your support to stand with the conservative candidate. A conservative ... is the best chance for us to win this election, someone who can take on Barack Obama."
8:43 AM New York Times' Nate Silver reports that Santorum has the best chance for an upset in Wisconsin, but Romney will win Maryland and DC, giving him 50 delegates after Tuesday.
MONDAY 10:15 PM Campaigning in Green Bay today, Mitt Romney faced a tough question about his Mormon faith. A 28-year-old Ron Paul supporter Bret Hatch asked Romney if he agrees with Mormon passages cursing people with "a skin of blackness." Romney responded, "I’m sorry, we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view, but if you have a question I’ll be happy to answer your question.” Hatch then asked whether Romney thought it was a sin for interracial couples to have children. “No. Next question,” Romney said.
2:10 PM Rick Santorum said Sunday that his presidential campaign will continue even if he loses the primary. "Look, this race isn't even at halftime yet," Santorum told "Fox News Sunday."
2:00PM On Saturday, Mitt Romney predicted a victory in Wisconsin's upcoming primary. Romney has come from behind in the polls to take the lead over chief rival Rick Santorum. "This was an uphill battle for me if you looked back three or four weeks ago. And now we're looking like we're going to win this thing on Tuesday, but I've got to have you guys get out and vote," Romney said.
1:30 PM Both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have backed Governor Scott Walker at a Wisconsin GOP dinner.
SUNDAY Watch Wisconsin GOP's April Fool's Day prank on Romney:
THE BACKGROUND: Wisconsin voters are particularly engaged in politics this year, as they face a looming June election to recall Governor Scott Walker, after his effort to disband all state public unions. Walker's recall is dominating the political conversation across the state, but Mitt Romney has a chance to essentially put away the Republican nomination if he can win big in the state on Tuesday.
Romney is leading in the Wisconsin polls, and he also leads in Tuesday's other primary states, Maryland and Washington, DC. "If you do your job and I do mine, I might be able to pick up all three of those and that would obviously be a big statement," Romney told Wisconsin Republicans.
If he wins Wisconsin, Romney said, "I think we'll be on a path that will get me the nomination well before the convention - sure hope so."
Earlier this week, Romney picked up an influential endorsement from Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. He's also won the support of freshman Senator Ron Johnson and the Wisconsin Sentential Journal.
Romney is hoping to pick up the state's 42 delegates, to boost his progress toward to elusive 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.
In addition to Governor Walker's recall election, economic themes are likely to be the focus in the state of 5.7 million people. Wisconsin has weathered the recession better than other Midwest neighbors (unemployment was only 6.9 percent in February compared to the 8.3 national average), but public sector unions remain on voters' minds.
Republican voters dominate three counties surrounding the Democratic capital of Milwaukee in the southeast. Democrats form the majority in the college town of Madison.
In 2008, President Obama won the state by 14 points, and the last Republican to carry the state was Ronald Reagan in 1984. But, Repulicans won both houses in 2010, when Tea Party Ron Johnson defeated three-time Democrat Russ Feingold, and the GOP is hoping to continue its resurgence in the state into 2012.