Illinois Republican Primary: Stakes Are High for Mitt Romney to Beat Rick Santorum

Public opinion polls show that Republican candidate Mitt Romney stands ahead in Illinois. However, because the Illinois primary on Tuesday is a crucial state that may define his standing in the November election, Romney must fight harder than usual to win against lead competitor, Rick Santorum, in order to secure his place as GOP frontrunner. 

Romney was originally scheduled to campaign in Puerto Rico for the remainder of the weekend, but instead he has changed gears and boarded a flight to Illinois Saturday. Although he won victories in Michigan and Ohio, after losing to Santorum in Mississippi and Alabama, the pressure for Romney to win delegates and voters in on.

According to the Associated Press, Romney leads Santorum in delegates by far nationwide — 495 to 252. It is unlikely that Santorum will attain more delegates than Romney, he can try to limit the amount of delegates Romney gets. If Romney surpasses 1,144 delegates, he will have the required amount of delegates needed to nominate his party for the 2012 election, regardless of the debates he has lost. 

To dissuade Illinois delegates and heighten the risk for Santorum, Romney released a new ad Friday labeling Santorum as an “economic lightweight.” Many of Republicans in support of Romney are moderates and Santorum’s backers are mainly conservatives and evangelicals. It would be a smart step for Romney to attract some conservative voters as well. 

Santorum’s attempt to move conservatives in Illinois has been through forceful speeches that make Romney unappealing to them: “We’re being outspent 10 to 1. And it’s a state they say that just fits Romney, that it’s just a moderate Republican state” where “conservatives don’t have much of an opportunity in Illinois to speak. ... You could make up for all of that frustration.”

Romney continues to use his background in economics to convince voters that he is an “economic heavyweight” who can turn over the weak economy, but will that be enough for him to win the 2012 election?

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore