Romney Projected As Winner in Illinois GOP Primary [8:35PM EST]


Mitt Romney got a much-needed victory in Illinois on Tuesday night, but his triumph is unlikely to change the dynamics of the GOP presidential primary.

CNN and Fox News projected Romney as the winner based on exit polling and early results about 40 minutes after the polls closed.

Recent polls had Romney leading in Illinois by double digits and, since he was expected to win, he’s unlikely to get much of a boost in momentum from his victory.

It is the first state the former Massachusetts governor has won in two weeks (he won the territory of Puerto Rico on Sunday), but the next contest favors Santorum, his main rival for the nomination.

Despite his demographic edge in Illinois, Romney took no chances in the state: He’s been stumping there since Friday and brought in top-level surrogates including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He and the super-PAC supporting him combined to spend approximately $3.5 million in the state, seven times the total Santorum and his allies spent.



  1. Mitt Romney won Illinois. So what?
    The decisive victory by Mitt Romney over Rick Santorum in today’s Illinois presidential primary proves everything and nothing — all at the same time.
    Everything in the sense that Romney beat Santorum again in a large Midwestern state where a majority of voters don’t think of themselves as evangelicals and prize electability and experience as the most important traits for a Republican candidate to possess. Everything in the sense that Romney’s victory — coupled with some organizational flubs by Santorum — means that the former Massachusetts governor will extend his already near-determinative delegate lead.

    And nothing in the sense that even Romney’s staunchest allies don’t expect him to pick up enough momentum to win the Louisiana’s caucuses set for Saturday, meaning that the “Romney can’t win the South” and “Romney can’t win conservatives over” storylines will linger as the calendar turns from March to April.

    “Nothing impossible in Louisiana but Santorum [is] not likely to be closed out soon,” acknowledged Charlie Black, a longtime Republican campaign hand who is supporting Romney.

    As we have written before, both Romney and Santorum have enough likely “wins” over the next two months of the nominating calendar to justify continuing on in the race.

    April is perhaps Romney’s best potential month of the race with a series of Midwestern and Northeastern states set to vote; May looks promising for Santorum with the race turning back to the South and Plains.

    Add to that calendar/geographic reality the fact that two-thirds of Illinois primary voters said they are comfortable with the race continuing on so that their preferred candidate can win and it seems entirely plausible that what happened in Illinois makes little difference as the race grinds forward.

    Santorum and his surrogates will continue to make the case that the conservative win of the party still isn’t sold on Romney and by nominating him the GOP will be sacrificing their best chance at beating President Obama in the fall.

    Romney and his side will argue that Santorum isn’t the true blue conservative he paints himself as and that he is ill equipped to win a fight with President Obama on the only issue most voters care about: the economy.

    Overarching all of that spin is the cold, hard math.

    There is little question that Santorum can’t overtake Romney in the delegate count and has only the longest of shots to reach the 1,144 delegates, which are needed to clinch the nomination. (Santorum’s take on where the delegate count stands currently is somewhat far fetched.)

    And yet, as NBC’s “First Read” noted Tuesday morning, even if Romney won every single delegate available after today, he wouldn’t reach the magic 1,144 number until the May 29 primary. If he won 60 percent of the delegates, Romney wouldn’t get to the threshold number until the Utah primary on June 26.

    What all that means is that the only way to “end” the race is for Santorum and Gingrich to bow to that delegate reality or for the establishment to try to, well, make them bow to that reality.

    The first scenario — Santorum simply deciding to call it quits — seems very unlikely, particularly given that his decidedly uphill delegate path has been a reality since, at least, Super Tuesday and the former Pennsylvania senator continues to soldier on in the race.

    The second scenario is slightly more likely although far from a sure thing. In truth, the major establishment figures of the Republican party have been very wary to wade into the “should this end now” argument for fear, wethinks, of pissing off the conservative/tea party base.

    If you are, for example, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio why would you risk the negative blowback that could be directed at you if you step in and say “enough is enough”? You wouldn’t.

    And so, the slog continues. Romney remains the all-but-certain winner but without the ability — at least so far — to land the single knockout blow he needs to convincingly end this race. Illinois didn’t change that. But in defense of the Prairie State, it’s hard to see any state playing that role at this point in the process.

  2. john king on CNN showed the map its impossible for santorum to clinch the nomination , but romney will win it and get even more then 1,144 even if he looses NY & NJ wich is unlikely, so basically the race is over!

    Dear Rick Santorum u guaranteed the voters that if u win Illinois you’ll be the nominee, now that u lose it i granted u that u wont so drop out of the race, u cant win!

  3. To #1: Thanx for Copy Pasting article from washington post

    the fact is its totally wrong!
    all conservatives will eventually go into romney column and vote GOP in Nov. for mitt
    no conservative will vote for obama, so who cares if he doesnt win them now, he doesnt need them, so main thing he is winning is Independence and that depends to WIN on Nov.