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A voter leaves a polling place on Tuesday in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Voters in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Washington D.C. vote today in the Republican presidential primary.
Two states and the District of Columbia headed to the polls today. The question tonight is whether former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will manage big enough wins to make the hopes of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum seem like an unlikely dream. (Newt Gingrich isn't expected to play much of a role in these contests.)
As Frank told us earlier, Romney is expected to win Maryland and the District of Columbia handily and if he takes Wisconsin with the same margin, it would further the sense that Romney will inevitably be the Republican nominee for president.
"It would also make his rivals' arguments for staying in the race, especially those of Rick Santorum, the last not-Romney to pose a threat, sound ever more forced and divorced from political reality," Frank added.
Polls in Wisconsin closed at 9 p.m. ET; in Maryland and D.C. they closed at 8 p.m. ET. If you're looking for live county-by-county results, they are here: Wisconsin, Maryland, D.C.
We'll live blog throughout the night, so hit refresh for the latest.
Update at 9:36 p.m. ET. CNN Projects Romney Wins Wisconsin:
Based on exit polls and partial results, CNN is projecting that Mitt Romney will win Wisconsin. Fox made the projection earlier in the night.
Update at 9:23 p.m. ET. 'You Know Me':
Santorum pretty much ignored today's races and focused on Pennsylvania, pleading with his supporters to stick with him.
He said that half of the country has not been heard and that he would stay in the race until the end. Then, Santorum launched into his criticism of Romney and Obama, especially on their stances on health care reform.
"If we are going to win this race, we can't have little differences between our candidate and President Obama," Santorum said. "We need to have clear, contrasting colors."
"The clock starts tonight," Santorum concluded. "The field looks a little different in May."
Update at 9:14 p.m. ET. Half Time:
In a speech in Mars, Pa., Santorum sounded subdued. Still, he vowed to continue his campaign.
"We have now reached the point where it's half time," he said. "Who's ready to charge out of the locker room for a strong second half in Pennsylvania?"
Update at 9:05 p.m. ET. CNN, NBC Project Romney Wins Washington:
CNN and NBC are calling the District of Columbia in favor of Romney. That means Romney has two wins tonight.
Update at 9 p.m. ET. Polls Close In Wisconsin:
The polls are closed now in Wisconsin. CNN provided the following exit poll numbers for the state:
— Romney: 43 percent
— Santorum: 35 percent
— Ron Paul: 11 percent
— Newt Gingrich: 6 percent
Update at 8:48 p.m. ET. Playing With Delegate Math:
The Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog is doing some math taking into account Romney's Maryland win and assuming he'll win D.C. They use the AP delegate count and come to a grim conclusion for Santorum:
"In order to get to the threshold of 1,144 delegates, Romney has to win only 528 of the remaining 1,213 delegates - or 43.5%. Put the other way around: the non-Romneys have won 42.64% of all delegates to date, and in order to block Romney from winning before the convention, they would need to win 56.6% - an improvement of 32.6%."
Update at 8:39 p.m. ET. Obama Clinches Nomination:
For the record, CNN tweets:
"President Obama clinches Democratic presidential nomination by winning DC, MD primaries, CNN projects. #CNNElections"
Update at 8:04 p.m. ET. Conservatives Falling Behind Romney:
Based on exit poll data the AP has also projected Romney will win Maryland.
CNN is reporting that according to exit polling, even voters who describe themselves as "very conservative" fell in line with Romney. The vote, which has been heavily skewed in favor of Santorum in the past, was split 40 percent to 40 percent in Maryland.
Fifty-nine percent of voters who described themselves as "somewhat conservative" voted for Romney.
Update at 8 p.m. ET. CNN Calls Maryland For Mitt Romney:
Based on exit poll data from Maryland, CNN is projecting Mitt Romney wins Maryland.
CNN's exit poll found that Romney won 49 percent of the vote, while Santorum took 28 percent of the vote.
Update at 7:46 p.m. ET. Does Santorum Drop Out?
On CNN, the network's political analysts are bouncing around the question of whether Santorum will drop out of the race before the April 24 contests, which include Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania.
Ari Fleischer, who served as President George W. Bush's press secretary, said Santorum is likely just looking for a good time to quit.
"He had his chance, but he wasn't able to capitulate," Fleischer said. He predicted that if Santorum sees that polls are showing a negative outcome for him in Pennsylvania, he'll leave the race.
Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist, said if Santorum wins Pennsylvania he'll stay in until Texas.
April - with Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Rhode Island on calendar - does not look good for Santorum. But May - with states like Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas headed to the polls - could play out better for Santorum.
But the panel on CNN said there's another thing weighing on Santorum's mind: The math, even if he won Pennsylvania, just doesn't add up for him.
Update at 7:35 p.m. ET. What To Expect Tonight:
From The Washington Post, here's how they're expecting the night to shape up: Santorum is expected to speak at 8 p.m. ET. from Mars, Pa.; Romney at 9 p.m. ET. from Milwaukee, Wi. and Paul at 10 p.m. ET from Chico, Calif.
Update at 7:24 p.m. ET. Santorum Supporters Losing Faith:
The New York Times is reading a bit more into the exit polls and finds that two-thirds of Santorum supporters believe Romney will be the eventual nominee. Only 30 percent of his supporters believe Santorum will win.
The paper adds:
"And most voters on Tuesday are just fine with Mr. Romney at the top of the party's ticket.
"About two-thirds say they would be satisfied if Mr. Romney won the nomination. But here Mr. Santorum's supporters are less enthused. About 4 in 10 of them say they would be satisfied with Mr. Romney, while nearly 6 in 10 would be dissatisfied."
Update at 7:13 p.m. ET. GOP Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Of Gov. Walker:
In Wisconsin, the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker has in some ways overshadowed the GOP nomination campaign. The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reports that according to exit polls 80 percent of voters in Wisconsin approve of him.
Those numbers, writes Cillizza, reflect "the remarkable polarization in the electorate as he prepares for a June 5 recall election."
"In an NBC/Marist poll conducted in Wisconsin last week, 48 percent of people approved of the job Walker is doing while an equal 48 percent disapproved. Among Republicans, 91 percent approved of how Walker was handling his job while 84 percent of Democrats disapproved. Independents split right down the middle - 47 percent approval/47 percent disapproval.
"What that slew of data means is simple. If you like Scott Walker, you LOVE him. If you don't like Scott Walker, you HATE him. And virtually everyone in the state is in one of those two camps."
Update at 7:02 p.m. ET. 80 Percent Say Romney Will Be GOP Candidate:
In Wisconsin the exit polls are showing that many of the voters tonight think this race is over.
ABC News reports that 80 percent of voters expect Romney to be the party's eventual nominee.
ABC adds that this electorate was also less concerned about a candidate who shares their religious belief and were more concerned with electability.
"A majority picks either electability in November or 'the right experience' as the candidate attribute of chief concern, both winning qualities for Romney to date," ABC reports.
Update at 6:36 p.m. ET. What's At Stake?
Just for the record, here are the delegates at stake tonight:
— District of Columbia: 19
— Maryland: 37
— Wisconsin: 42
And here is NPR's version of where we stand on the delegate front thus far.
— Mitt Romney: 464
— Rick Santorum: 205
— Newt Gingrich: 135
— Ron Paul: 34
Keep in mind that NPR's count is different from other news organization's count. One difference is that NPR does not track preferences of "unpledged" RNC members.