Mitt Romney Dominates in Illinois, Ron Paul Out-Performs

Mitt Romney won the Illinois Republican primary on Tuesday with ease.

Romney took 54% of the vote, Santorum took 28%, Paul took 10%, and Gingrich trailed with 7%. 

Not like it was a close race anyways. The former Massachusetts governor went into the primary contest on Tuesday morning ahead by 15 percentage points of closest rival Rick Santorum.

The biggest question that remained as polls closed was concerning how many delegates would allotted to Romney, Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul.

While 54 delegates were at stake, Santorum was at a disadvantage. Because Santorum's campaign failed to file slates in some congressional districts, he can win no more than 44. Romney was expected to take the lion’s share of delegates, according to exit polls.

Romney is projected to have done especially well in urban areas (46% to Santorum’s 23%) and suburban areas (50% to 29%). Santorum was expected to perform more competitively in rural areas of the state, but on Monday polls showed Romney doing better in this area too (38% to 36%).

Romney’s particular brand of political conservatism seemed to blend well with voters. Romney’s closest competitor, Santorum, hardly fits into the Illinois Republican mold. Only 30% of voters in the state consider themselves “very” conservative, according to exit polls.

Compared to the average Republican primary voter, the Illinois electorate also considers itself less Evangelical and tends to self-describe itself more along moderate conservative lines. When Santorum won decisive victories in Alabama and Mississippi last week (and where Romney took a disappointing third place), around 80% of voters considered themselves Evangelicals. In comparison, 2008 exit polls in the Illinois primaries showed that only 41% of voters identified themselves as Evangelicals. That number has surely not changed much in the last four years.

Electability also played a major factor in Romney’s win. According to exit polls in the state, 60% of voters believed that Romney was the best person to take on Barack Obama come the general election in November.

Television presence in the state likely proved to be the most decisive factor. Romney and his Super PAC, Restore Our Future, spent as much as $4 million in Illinois media markets. Santorum’s campaign and Super PAC, the Red White and Blue Fund, spent only $530,111.

Turnout in the state ended up to be between 20% and 25%.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore