Osburn: Romney gets a much-needed win in IllinoisWritten by Ben Osburn | | email@example.com
With Mitt Romney’s decisive victory in Illinois, many are now poised to believe that the former Massachusetts governor will lock in the GOP nomination. Romney won the state with an overwhelming 47 percent of the vote to Santorum’s 35 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul finished with 9 percent of the vote and Newt Gingrich finished with 8 percent. Romney will walk away with at least 41 of the 54 delegates at stake, bringing him to a total 562. Sen. Santorum will receive at least 10, bringing him to 249. With that number, Romney is almost at the half waypoint of the needed 1,144 to accept the nomination at the Republican National Convention this year in Tampa.
As predicted, Romney did well in the Chicagoland area and other urban counties in Illinois. The Chicagoland area consists of the majority of primary voters and almost two-thirds of the state’s congressional districts. In Cook County, where Chicago is located, Romney received a whopping 57 percent of the vote. In matching Kane County, home of Aurora, he received 49 percent. He also scored well in Sangamon County, home of the Illinois capital of Springfield. Romney’s performance in these areas could be attributed to the fact that they are more affluent and also that they tend to vote toward the more moderate side of the G.O.P. Not surprisingly, Romney also outspent Santorum in the state as well.
Continuing with trends seen throughout the campaign, Romney did extremely well with the 37 percent of people who said that beating President Obama was their top priority, receiving three quarters of their vote. Romney has been neck and neck with Santorum lately in the “who can beat Obama,” battle, so those numbers did more than put the campaign’s mind at ease. Romney also did well again with those who stated the economy was the most important issue. On a surprising note, Romney even won with Tea Partiers and Catholics, which may provide a “game changer” for the race.
The campaign continues to tout Romney’s business experience. The campaign has also hammered the Obama administration’s energy policy lately, saying that it’s anti-oil stance is causing gas prices to increase. The president continues to tout his “all of the above” energy strategy and has surprisingly directed his cabinet agencies to prioritize the construction of the southern part of the Keystone Pipeline.
Sen. Santorum did well in Illinois’ rural areas but failed to perform as well as needed to stay competitive. The campaign failed to get on the ballot in four of congressional districts, throwing away another chance to gain delegates. Santorum also came under fire for saying that unemployment did not matter to him and for saying that Puerto Ricans should be required to speak English if they want to become a state. Santorum was not in Illinois the night of the primary, deciding to go Pennsylvania instead. During his concession speech, he downplayed Romney’s managerial experience, saying, “We don’t need a manager, we need someone who’s going to pull government up by the roots and do something to liberate the private sector in America.”
The Romney campaign points out that his eventual path to the nomination is a matter of math. They point to the campaign calendar and remind everyone that time the time for Santorum to catch up is shrinking. This is true. Aside from upcoming Louisiana, Santorum will have a difficult time winning another contest like Maryland. With Illinois in the bag, Wisconsin could very well provide Romney with another win in the heartland. Combine this with the endorsement that ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gave him last Wednesday and in a few months voters could look back and say Illinois locked in the nomination for Mitt Romney.