In the Illinois Republican primary, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul are all trying to win President Barack Obama's home state to curry favor with Republican voters.
PolicyMic is covering the primary live, and will be regularly updating this page as new information becomes available:
UPDATE: (3/21) Final Results: Romney 46.7% (430,535), Santorum 35% (322,831), Paul 9.3% (85,872), and Gingrich 8% (73,362).
10:05 p.m. Rick Santorum said in his election night speech that the Republican Party needs someone with principles to defeat Obama. "There is one candidate in this race who can go out and make that contrast," he said. "Someone who has a track record of being for you, being for limited government, being for solutions that empower people."
9:43 p.m. In his victory speech, Romney claimed an "extraordinary victory" and quickly attacked President Obama for a lack of leadership during the past several years. "It's time to say this word: enough," he told an enthusiastic crowd in Schaumberg, Ill. "We've had enough. We deserve in a president who believes in us."
9:38 p.m. Romney has won all 19 delegates thus far, according to the AP.
9:35 p.m. At Santorum's rally in Pennsylvania, his campaign adviser was asked why he cannot win in moderate areas like Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. Santorum's adviser John Brabender replied:
"We're the only ones who have shown we can win not only in the middle states like Colorado and North Dakota but also in the South where Romney is having trouble. People will see Louisiana is a very important state on Saturday. Look, we're not even to half-time yet. We've got to have two more states to get to halfway, so we'll get through tonight, get through Illinois. . . "
9:30 p.m. Romney could sweep the delegates in the Chicago area, all 28 of them.
9:26 p.m. There may have been voting problems in as many as 25 counties.
9:24 p.m. @newtgingrich released this statement: "To defeat Barack Obama, Republicans can't nominate a candidate who relies on outspending his opponents 7-1. Instead, we need a nominee who offers powerful solutions that hold the president accountable for his failures. Over the past few weeks, my $2.50 gas plan has shown how America could have cheaper gas, more jobs and greater national security while putting the White House on the defense over their anti-American energy policies. This is the type of leadership I can offer as the nominee, and this campaign will spend between now and when the delegates vote in Tampa relentlessly taking the fight to President Obama to make this case."
9:21 p.m. Via Huff Post:
9:18 p.m. HOT READ: Romney Dominates in Illinois
9:16 p.m. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is leading Debbie Halvorson, a former congresswoman. Jackson had 72% to Halvorson’s 28% with more than 9% counted in unofficial returns in the 2nd Congressional District.
9:15 p.m. Record low turnout in Chicago. Turnout "extremely low" in Illinois says election official.
9:11 p.m. Great Tweet!
9:08 p.m. Rick Santorum lost so badly that he had to cancel a fundraiser to go to his rally in Gettysburg.
9:06 p.m. Full description of the Illinois delegate system.
9:05 p.m. Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul told @andersoncooper fundraising is "part of the game," but pointed to 150,000 donors who contributed less than $180 and are "putting their money where their mouth is."
9:00 p.m. 28% reporting: Romney 54.8% (91,410), Santorum 28.2% (48,971).
8:55 p.m. Romney defeated Santorum amongst men and women, and voters of all ages, the exit polls show. Romney drew the support of more moderate voters - as he has in the past - but also won among voters who said they were supportive of the Tea Party movement.
8:51 p.m. NBC News and NY Times now say Mitt Romney projected winner.
8:49 p.m. Quote of the night: @Jordan Wolf: "I think the lesson from the exit polls is there are like four black people in all of Illinois."
8:46 p.m. 39% 'have reservations' about their candidate in Illinois.
8:43 p.m. CBS News reports Romney will win the primary. PolicyMic's @Chris Miles called it before.
8:41 p.m. 15:% reporting: Romney 54.6%, Santorum 27.5%, Paul 10.4%.
8:37 p.m. This may not be a must-win for Romney after all. Romney could still win even if Santorum takes Illinois (but he'd have to win California, Maryland, and Oregon too).
8:36 p.m. @HowardKurtz: Only remaining drama is whether the media can turn an Illinois win into a Mitt setback...
8:34 p.m. 6.3% reporting: Romney 53.7% (9,690) vs. Santorum 27.1% (4,881)
8:33 p.m. Some levity for your Tuesday night. Thanks Eminem!
8:31 p.m. 1% reporting: Romney 54% (2,109), Santorum 28.8% (1,126)
8:29 p.m. Results are already coming in for Lake County. 62 of 415 precincts are already counted.
8:27 p.m. @davidgergen reports over at CNN that a 10+ point victory for Romney would be big for momentum. He may get it.
8:26 p.m. Huff Po exit polls show 98% of voters were white.
8:20 p.m. According to early CNN exit polling, 45% of Illinois voters supported Romney, followed by 35% for Santorum, 12% for Gingrich and 8% for Paul.
8:13 p.m. According to NY Times exit polls, here's how it shook out in Illinois:
8:09 p.m. According to exit polls, 32 percent of Illinois votes decided whom to vote for either just today or in the last few days.
8:05 p.m. Among Illinois voters who made $100,000 per year or more, 55% supported Romney, 28% supported Santorum, 10% supported Gingrich and 6% supported Paul, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, of those who considered themselves very conservative, 48% supported Santorum, compared to 34% for Romney, 13% for Gingrich and 5% for Paul. Among moderates, Romney received 47%, followed by 27% for Santorum, 12% for Paul and 11% for Gingrich.
7:59 p.m. In other news, Romney's Twitter page is embarrasingly empty. No mention of Illinois at all.
7:56 p.m. A flurry of activity from Santorum's Twitter page. Santorum will hold an election night rally at 8:00pm EST in Gettysburg, PA.
Illinois, today you need to make your voices heard. Freedom is at stake. I encourage you to stand up & fight with me.— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) March 20, 2012
Watch a Santorum campaign rally yesterday in Dixon, Illinois:
7:52 p.m. Romney at Google headquarters in Chicago today. Via @ZacMoffatt
7:51 p.m. Check out Google Politics' voter maps breaking down voting by county here.
7:41 p.m. Santorum is only eligible to win 44 of the state's 54 delegates. But, it could have been much worse. In 10 other districts, Santorum did not have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. (In Illinois, a GOP candidate needs three people willing to be a delegate, plus 600 signatures to get on the ballot.) The only way for a candidate to be deemed ineligible is for a campaign to contest the signatures. The Romney campaign did not challenge Santorum's campaign. Thus, Romney prevented this from being an even worse night for Santorum.
7:40 p.m. Mitt Romney held his second Google hangout today, from the Google offices in Chicago, IL. Video here:
7:30 p.m. Newt Gingrich has no chance to win tonight's primary. He spent the day campaigning in Louisiana, which holds it primary on Saturday. Over 300 people came to his event:
Tuesday 7:20 p.m. New York Times' Nate Silver reports: Nearly six in 10 Republican priamry voters said that campaign advertising was only a minor factor or not a factor at all in their vote, according to exit polls.
5 p.m. Romney Headed For Big Win, But Why? According to the Washington Post, polling indicates that Romney appears to be charging toward a big victory in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in Illinois, a state he lost to John McCain by 18 percentage points four years ago. The state’s swing in Romney’s favor has less to do with changes among the state’s voters and more with his emergence as this year’s mainstream and moderate Republican choice. Illinois voters aren't decidedly Evangelical (as they were in Alabama and Mississippi), thus benefiting the moderate Romney.
2 p.m. Santorum Doesn't Care About Unemployment: "I don't care what the unemployment rate is going to be. It doesn't matter to me. My campaign doesn't hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates," Santorum said during a campaign appearance in Illinois."
11:55 a.m. Mitt Romney Will Win? According to PolicyMic pundit Andrew O'Shaughnessyit's looking like that: Hours into the Illinois Republican primary, it looks like there won’t be any surprises. Mitt Romney is set to win a decisive victory, with the most recent poll putting the former Massachusetts governor ahead 45% to just 30% for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. The Romney campaign in Illinois has spent millions on television ads in the last few weeks, while Santorum has failed to generate much enthusiasm even amongst the state’s most conservative voters.
Because neither candidate has spent much time campaigning in the state — Santorum took time off to stump in Puerto Rico, where he was trounced — television presence will probably be decisive. Romney and his Super PAC, Restore Our Future, have spent as much as $4 million in Illinois media markets. Santorum’s campaign and Super PAC, the Red White and Blue Fund, have spent only $530,111, mostly on an ad attacking Romney’s conservative credentials, “Meet the Real Mitt Romney.”
Santorum may never have had a shot. The state’s Republican voters tend to self-describe as moderate conservatives, and polls show Romney ahead of Santorum amongst not just urban and suburban voters, but rural ones — a demographic Santorum was expected to win — as well.
Polls in Illinois open Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. They will close at 7 p.m. local time. The first results should be available starting at 8 p.m. EST.
Low turnout is expected.
Secret Service Update: GQ has revealed the Secret Service code names chosen by the top two Republican presidential candidates: Romney elected to call himself "Javelin." And Santorum chose "Petrus." Cute, guys.
Romney Leading Big: Two polls Monday showed frontrunner Mitt Romney with a double-digit lead.
Monday: No Excitment in Illinois? As PolicyMicer Michelle Pantoja reports, many Illinois voters aren't exactly enthused about Tuesday's vote: "Although the IL primaries are fast approaching, there has not been much buzz about the election. My friends are only aware of the primaries because I can't stop talking about it. Most candidates are running unopposed; thus, it creates less interest overall. The only race that is creating a lot excitement and buzz is for state representative for the 21st district. Rudy Lozano Jr and Silvana Tabares are two up-and-coming Latinos who both grew up in the southwest Chicago and both believed they are the best choice.
Economy and Values on Voters' Minds: PolicyMicer Tommy Smithburg reports: "As a candidate for the 42nd Ward Republican Committeeman position in downtown Chicago, I've had the pleasure of getting to know several voters in the last few months. A topic that always seems to come up is who to support for president.
11:05 a.m. NY Times reports: "Opening a two-day campaign swing across Illinois heading into Tuesday’s critical primary, Romney and his wife, Ann, made a populist play for the support of women, a demographic his strategists see as key to beating rival Rick Santorum in Illinois and in the primaries to come." Will women be an influential factor in Illinois?
11:00 a.m. Romney is headed for a blowout victory. He leads with 45% to 30% for Rick Santorum, 12% for Newt Gingrich, and 10% for Ron Paul. But, a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll showed Romney ahead of Santorum, only by 4 percentage points, within the margin of sampling error.
Expect Romney to Win Urban Areas, Santorum to Take Rural Illinois:
From PolicyMic pundit Chris Miller: Illinois doesn’t often play a role in Republican presidential primaries, but both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have visited Chicago and locations in southern Illinois where there is a higher density of conservative and evangelical voters. Romney is expected to do well in urban and suburban areas, holding the trend nationally, but Santorum is expected to do better with southern and rural voters. Though Romney is expected to carry Illinois on the strength of urban votes, don't look for this to be repeated in President Obama's home state in the general election.
Illinois remains solidly under Democratic control, with redistricting maps redrawn heavily in Democrats’’ favor. Primary fights among Democrats to watch will be the 8th District between military veteran Tammy Duckworth and businessman Raja Krishnamoorthi. There's a close 4-way fight among Democrats for the 10th District between Vivek Bavda, Brad Schneider, Ilya Sheyman, and military veteran John Tree. Two downstate races will be interesting. The 13th looks tough between Democrats Dr. David Gill and veteran Matt Goetten. The 12th District is an open seat with the incumbent retiring. Brad Harriman goes up against Ken Wiezer in the Dem race, as the GOP 3-way features Jason Plummer, Rodger Cook, and Theresa Kormos.
A First Person Account of a Romney Campaign Event: PolicyMicer Larry Tidrick was part of a Mitt Romney campaign event last week in Rosemont, Ill.
The event, hosted at Pancake Eggcetra consisted of Romney showing up, giving an interview to Fox and Friends, then, going around to the breakfast booths talking to people.
Below is an account of the event:
Meg and I, and two other strangers, sat in a restaurant booth yesterday in Rosemont, Illinois, with Mitt Romney for a few minutes.
I decided he didn't want any unsolicited advice from a stranger, and, I didn't want to say something that would be overhead by the media, so we chit-chatted a bit, and, he left for Puerto Rico. I told him to have a safe trip.
Had I said something meaningful, I would have mentioned that I thought he should be able to freely discuss being a Mormon in this United States without being considered weird, as certainly the Founding Generation would have permitted. I might have also said that he seems to have educated himself on the Constitution, but, first, needed to win this election. I would have also referred him to Jerry Taylor at the Cato Institute to get a better explanation for the increase in retail gas prices. The price of Brent Crude Oil is not at all determined by retail demand in the states, and wouldn't be affected by any increased production in the States. But, of course we still need to be producing oil here as oil is fungible. I might have also said that he had listened well to GOP rival Ron Paul.
Yes, I know: you just can't believe that I didn't open my big mouth and say, at least, all of the above. For me: unbelievable restraint. I just didn't want him to 'become news,” due to some crackpot in Rosemont, Illinois.
In person I would describe him as extremely perceptive, mentally very quick, conventionally friendly, extremely good looking, and extremely well bred. Truly upper class and not at all a "man of the people."
Being nearly as rich as George Washington, he exudes much of the same personality.
During a TV Intermission for an interview with Fox and Friends, he said 'they are going to ask me awkward and meaningless questions and I am going to do my best to avoid answering them."
I would call him a man who has learned that, when in the public eye, most people are not to be trusted, and the best you can do for yourself is to not do damage.
All of this raises a question to me: Who gets elected in this day and age — the most qualified, or, the one who has best learned the things to say which will move him along the path to election? Romney has learned the latter. Time will tell if he is, also, the former.
I'd bet on him.
And, yes, I got a signed autograph on a placemat.
I hope I get an invitation to both inaugurals.
Sunday 4:30 p.m. Three-quarters of the state's Republican vote is traditionally cast in the Chicago area. Downstate Republicans are typically more conservative than their suburban counterparts.
4:20 p.m. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rick Santorum vows an Illinois win would assure nomination ... Romney pounds Obama, claims conservative mantle.
Saturday 3:30 p.m: Rick Santorum held rallies in southern Illinois, seeking to play up his social values in the state's coal country. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney held a town hall in Collinsville, an Illinois suburb of St. Louis. Romney needs his supporters (mostly from Chicago's suburbs) to come out to vote on Tuesday.
Friday 5 p.m. Santorum Faces 7-to-1 Spending Disadvantage Against Romney: According to ABC News, the closing days of the Illinois primary have brought an onslaught of TV and radio advertising from Romney and his Super PAC — most of it aimed squarely at squashing Santorum’s hopes of pulling off an upset in next Tuesday’s primary.
On Friday the campaign released a new TV commercial calling Santorum’s economic know-how into question. “He’s never run a business or a state,” the ad’s narrator says, calling the former Pennsylvania senator “another economic lightweight.”
To help get that ad and others on the air, Romney’s campaign chipped in an additional $100,000 on Thursday on top of their already $900,000-plus ad buy in the state, according to GOP media trackers.
Even more firepower is coming from the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, which has purchased roughly $2.5 million worth of airtime ahead of the primary
Thursday 5 p.m. Ron Paul Stumps at University of Illinois, Biggest Crowd Ever:
Paul spoke to a capcity crowd (estimated at 5,000 people) at UI. Video below.
According to CBS News, Paul said at the rally that recent shifts by some of his rivals on the war in Afghanistan a sign that he's "winning the fight" with his signature hands-off foreign policy.
Paul won standing ovations -- his largest turnout ever -- for his calls to "bring our troops home!" He also told the crowd, made up mostly of college students, that "the other candidates on our side are saying we need to fight more wars."
Asked by National Journal/CBS News about recent comments by Gingrich and Santorum that the U.S. should review its commitment in Afghanistan and possibly back off, Paul replied, "It's about time."
"But they're what we call chicken hawks. And they talk a lot, they push the wars, they themselves haven't gone, and they don't serve, and yet they... promote the wars," he said.
"Sure the politics are changing, and that's great. We're changing people's minds. The American people are sick and tired of it," Paul said. "And like I mentioned in my speech, I spent five years trying to prevent the war in Iraq. So if they want to come on board now, fine and dandy. That means we're winning the fight."
Illinoise Will Go to Santorum or Romney? Newt Gingrich told reporters on Thursday, that he believes the race in Illinois “largely will be Romney and Santorum.”
Monday 12 p.m. Santorum will be in Illinois on Friday, Saturday, and Monday. Paul hits the University of Illinois campus in Champaign-Urbana on Wednesday.
Gingrich will be in Chicago's northwest suburbs on Wednesday and Thursday.
11:50 a.m. Roney's campaign is led by Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who said over the weekend that he is focused like a "laser beam" on turning out "Romney type of supporters in Illinois. Romney is not scheduled to arrive in Illinois until March 19.
The Romney super PAC Restore Our Future is estimated to spend $1 million in Illinois television spots.
11:30 a.m. President Obama will head to Chicago on Friday for a high-paying fund-raiser at the Palmer House Hilton.
THE BACKGROUND: The Illinois primary is quickly shaping up to be significant in the ongoing battle for the Republican nomination. With the next few contests in Mississippi and Alabama, states that Santorum or Gingrich are expected to win, Mitt Romney is eyeing Illinois' 54 delegates to recapture momenturm and move closer to clinching the nomination.
Meanwhile, Santorum will look to ride his projected victories in either Mississippi or Alabama up to Illinois, where he is hoping to prove he has appeal for moderate GOP voters.
Polls show the race is tightening. Romney has long considered Illinois to be an easy victory, but a new Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows Romney only slightly ahead of Santorum, 35 percent to 31 percent, within the poll's margin of error. Another 16 percent were undecided and 46 percent of voters said they could still change their minds.
Much like Ohio, Santorum holds a 35 to 29 percent advantage in the 96 counties outside the Chicago area.
A super PAC supporting Romney has already been running ads against Santorum. Romney is scheduled to campaign in the state for two days, while Santorum will spend three days campaigning there.
Romney has received endorsements from Sen. Mark Kirk, Reps. Robert Dold, Judy Biggert, and Aaron Schock.
There are two parts to the Illinois primary: First, people vote for their favorite candidate, then they pick the delegates who will support the candidates at the Republican convention. In addition to the 54 delegates, 15 others will be chosen by party leaders later. Santorum did not manage to come up with delegate canddates in four districts, so he the best he could do is win 44 delegates on the election.
In 2008, Sen. John McCain won the primary with 47.5 percent of the vote. Romney finished in second with 28.6 percent of the vote.
Illinois hasn't played a big role in the nomination fight since 1988, when Vice President George H.W. Bush drove Sen. Bob Dole out of the race with a primary win there. That was the last time that the state supported a Republican for president.
If Romney can come away with a strong victory in Obama's home state, it will help boost his campaign narrative that he is the only candidate who can defeat Obama.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore