Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mitt Romney Takes Illinois

Mitt Romney scored another victory over Rick Santorum in the Midwest on Tuesday, winning the Illinois Primary by a wide margin. With 82% reporting, Romney won 47% of the vote to Santorum's 35%. Newt Gingrich only took 8% of the vote--a significant erosion of the support he was polling, which wasn't that high to begin with. As expected, Newt Gingrich's recent losses in the Deep South have marginalized him further. That's what Santorum was hoping for, but it wasn't enough. If the margin holds up as more precincts report, Romney won Illinois by double-digits, an impressive win in Santorum's home region. In recent days, the polling showed Romney ahead, so Santorum was not expected to win. However, that doesn't change the fact that Illinois was a state Santorum needed to win. This was a devastating loss for the Santorum campaign.

Illinois Primary (82% reporting)
Romney -- 47%
Santorum -- 35%
Paul -- 9%
Gingrich -- 8%

The size of Romney's win in Illinois suggests that he will threaten Santorum in the Midwest again, in Wisconsin, which will vote on April 3rd. Wisconsin is one of the few states Santorum has a chance to win in April, a month whose schedule heavily favors Romney. Santorum has held a big lead over Romney in Wisconsin polls, but there hasn't been any polling there since February. Given the way the tide has turned in the overall Republican presidential primary, Santorum shouldn't count on much of a lead in Wisconsin. It's a pro-Santorum state in a pro-Santorum region, but as Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois demonstrated, that doesn't count for much anymore.