Romney Wins, but No End in Sight After Illinois

Romney takes big state but fails to flip Santorum's base

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 21, 2012 4:35 AM CDT | Updated Mar 21, 2012 7:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – Mitt Romney's decisive win in Illinois extends his delegate lead, but it's not enough to change the dynamics of the race, let alone knock out Rick Santorum, pundits say.

  • Romney has scored another big win in a Midwestern state, but even his "staunchest allies don’t expect him to pick up enough momentum" to win Louisiana on Saturday, "meaning the 'Romney can’t win the South' and 'Romney can’t win conservatives over' storylines" will linger into April, writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post.

  • Neither Romney nor Santorum managed to expand their voter base in Illinois, and the low turnout will add fuel to arguments that Romney can't excite voters, notes Maggie Haberman at Politico. Santorum's speech "was a strong reminder of why he resonates with a base that has shown it wants the race to keep going," she writes. "In fact, more than two-thirds of voters in the Illinois exits said they want the primary to plow forward."
  • Romney did well with his core voters but he didn't flip many of Santorum's supporters, and the results show he still faces "sustained opposition from a sizeable bloc of Republicans: the rural vote, the socio-economically downscale, and the very conservative," writes Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard. The demographics mean that Pennsylvania's April 24 primary is a good opportunity for Mitt to finish off Santorum with a win in his home state, Cost writes, but if Romney can't pull that off, expect the race to drag on into June.

Mitt Romney waves to the crowd during a victory rally in Schaumburg, Illinois last night.
Mitt Romney waves to the crowd during a victory rally in Schaumburg, Illinois last night.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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Assuming something unexpected doesn’t happen, Romney may well end up securing the nomination without strongly winning over the base of his party.
- Maggie Haberman, Politico

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