Mitt Romney had a very good week... at least until Wednesday. The GOP presidential frontrunner convincingly crushed main rival Rick Santorum in the Illinois and Puerto Rico primaries, dramatically expanded his delegate lead, and got a plum endorsement from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who called for the party to unite behind Romney. As a result, many pundits finally began calling the race for Mitt. Then Team Romney stepped on all the good news by comparing its candidate, already dogged by charges of being a serial flip-flopper, to an erasable Etch A Sketch, reminding everyone why the gaffe-prone Romney is still fighting to quash his weak rivals once and for all. Is there life in this fight yet?
The race is over, and Romney won: We "conservatives may not really like Mitt Romney," but it's time to face facts — "he will be the nominee," says Erick Erickson at RedState. It's becoming increasingly clear that a scenario in which Santorum wins enough delegates to seize the nomination is "a mathematical improbability" — and it's a "political improbability" that Santorum can stop Romney from bagging the 1,144 delegates he needs to officially clinch. So let's be honest with ourselves: It's over, Romney won, and it's time for the GOP to unite. Let's focus on unseating Obama.
The race isn't over yet: Romney's decisive Illinois victory wasn't the "blowout win or knockout punch" he needed to wrap this up, says Chuck Todd and MSNBC's First Read team. If he notches a surprise win in Louisiana, or sweeps all three April 3 contests, "then it will be fair to conclude the race is over." But not yet. Yes, "the landing gear on Air Romney has been lowered," but he hasn't touched down. Remember, "landings get aborted, and this one could, too."
"Romney holds his ground"
The only one who can stop Romney is Romney: The oddsmakers at the gambling website Intrade are right to put Santorum's chances of winning the nomination at a measly 1.5 percent, says Nate Silver at The New York Times. Indeed, this is no longer a two-man contest. It's a "one-man race" pitting "Romney against himself." The race will technically go on until Romney hits the magic 1,144 delegates or all his rivals drop out. And make no mistake: mathematically, Romney should almost certainly get to 1,144 — that is, unless the gaffe-tastic candidate manages to "somehow beat himself."
"GOP nomination becoming a one-man race"