Why the Massachusetts Win Matters for Romney

The biggest news for Republicans at 8:00 is that Massachusetts has been won — decisively — by Mitt Romney. John McCain has campaigned in the Bay State, hoping to capitalize of disaffection with Romney from Republicans who feel he abandoned them as governor to pursue his national ambitions. McCain had the backing of two former Republican governors — Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift (who was pushed out of the corner office by Romney in 2002) — and hoped to benefit from residual goodwill from 2000, when he blasted George W. Bush in the state’s primary, making Massachusetts McCain’s best state that year.

In winning Massachusetts handily, Romney has averted an embarrassing loss. And if he can wins several other states tonight — like California — he could be in position to accuse Romney of having taken victory for granted in an effort to score a vanity win in Massachusetts.

The other states that were just called on the Republican side — Connecticut, New Jersey and Illinois — all went to McCain, outcomes that aren’t at all surprising.