It All Comes Down to Illinois Now
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum both need this
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2012 8:28 AM CDT
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum argue a point during a Republican presidential debate Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Mesa, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) – Having failed to seal up the nomination in yesterday's Southern primaries, it's all about Illinois now for Mitt Romney. That state's Tuesday primary is the next big one, though Missouri will hold caucuses Saturday and Puerto Rico holds its primary Sunday. Politico calls Illinois "the new Michigan. And, for that matter, the new Ohio." Romney won both of those states and needs to make it three-for-three in the big Midwestern primaries. Right now, things are looking good for him—unlike in Michigan and Ohio, Romney is actually ahead in the Illinois polls, though not by much, the Washington Post reports.

Santorum will also be hurt by his failure to qualify for all the delegates on the ballot, as in Ohio. But there's not yet much enthusiasm for any one candidate in the state, and it remains to be seen who will turn out for the primary: Because of issues related to redistricting, a lot of conservatives could show up, while it's not clear how many moderates will come out. The Post calls Illinois a must-win for Santorum—in order to prove he can compete in a general election—while Slate notes that, for Romney, it is "a no-excuses state" that he must win. Of course, Romney's doing all he can to make sure he does: Both his campaign and the super PAC supporting him are spending heavily in the state and will be all over the airwaves until the primary, the Chicago Tribune notes.