Mitt Romney wins Illinois in decisive fashion. Here’s what it all means:
1) Decisive. By winning 48% of the vote over Rick Santorum’s 35% and Ron Paul’s 9%, Romney reasserted himself as the dominant front-runner in the GOP race. He bounced back from two major losses last week in Mississippi and Alabama to regain momentum and control of this race. He even won some Tea Party voters according to exit polls.
2) Delegate math. Romney now has more than 522 delegates, almost double Santorum. He has a clear path to the nomination with Maryland (3-Apr, 37 delegates), Wisconsin (3-Apr, 42 delegates), New York (24-Apr, 94 delegates), Indiana (8-May, 45 delegates), and North Carolina (8-May, 55 delegates) all offering large numbers of delegates. Santorum needed a big upset to change the direction of this race. He didn’t get it.
3) It might not matter. Voter turnout in Illinois was record-low, especially in Chicago. As the GOP race has dragged on, Republicans candidates have waded into a national debate on social issues. In the meantime, the economy has started recovering and Obama’s numbers are improving. While Romney and Santorum have been busy attacking each other, their campaigns have seemed to lose momentum. Romney needs to end this race quickly and begin honing his message on Obama or the 2012 elections be over before the summer conventions even happen.