MILWAUKEE — The Republican presidential nomination all but secured, Mitt Romney reached out for confirming primary victories in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia on Tuesday with time left over to swap charges with President Barack Obama.
There were 95 Republican National Convention delegates at stake for the day, including 42 in Wisconsin, the only one of the three contests that a fading Rick Santorum seriously contested.
Interviews with voters leaving Republican polling places in Maryland and Wisconsin showed an electorate more concerned with a candidate’s ability to ability to defeat Obama than with the strength of his conservatism, his moral character or his stand on the issues. Similar soundings in earlier states have consistently worked to Romney’s advantage.
Voters in both states were less apt to be born again or evangelical Christians than in most previous contests — 34 percent in Wisconsin and 32 percent in Maryland. Based on earlier contests, that, too, suggested an advantage for Romney.
Increasingly, Romney and many senior figures in his party have begun behaving as if the primaries are an afterthought, hoping to pivot to the fall campaign and criticism of Obama.