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Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 in At TMV | 1 comment

Romney Wins Illinois (UPDATED with Roundup)

Fox News projects Mitt Romney the winner of the Illinois primary.

CNN and MSNBC have now projected as well.

Looks like a big win for Mitt, likely in double digits.

Of course this won’t cause anyone to drop out because… well they’re idiots.

Speaking of idiocy.. over on MSNBC Rachel Maddow is making fun of the Illinois primary ballot.

Admittedly the ballot is somewhat odd, with a beauty contest that means nothing and then a separate vote elsewhere on the ballot for delegates.

However she is trying to paint it as a “well the GOP has weird or unfair primaries” and thus imply “the Democrats don’t”.

Similarly she pointed to the chaos at some of the caucuses, again suggesting that only the GOP has these kind of ‘unfair things’.

The truth of course is that these kind of ballots and equally odd caucus systems are used by both parties and indeed it was oddities like this that helped President Obama defeat Hillary Clinton last time around.

Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman has a post
that must be read in full. He says Romney needs to be praised for the cold-bloodedness with which he has built one of the best election-winning machines in America. Some parts of it:’

Now that Illinois has come and gone, and Mitt Romney has won, the time has come not to bury him but to praise him.

Stripped of sentiment, accepting the pitiless morality of the American win-at-all-costs game, Willard “Mitt” Romney deserves to be acknowledged for what he is: the best in the brutal presidential election business as it now is practiced.

“He’s got more votes, more delegates, more states and more money than anyone else,” said a friend of his who insisted on anonymity to speak frankly about Romney’s campaign. “Especially considering what he has had to overcome — and I mean overcome, because he is an Ivy League, Northeastern, Mormon in a populist, Southern, evangelical party — there is nothing else you can say except that he’s the best candidate. That’s what the numbers show.”

Indeed they do, which probably means that we eventually will see just how what Romney has built stacks up against the cutting-edge campaign of four years ago built by Barack Obama. Has the president’s game evolved (or devolved, depending on your point of view)? Perhaps we will find out soon enough.


Yes, he has money, family connections, good looks and a fine head of hair. But just about everything else he has assembled on his own: a sterling education, a lovely wife and family, a respected (which means cold-blooded) business career and now — after a false start as a candidate in 2008 — a campaign that is famously and effectively grinding its way toward the GOP nomination.

Besides his own background, Romney has had other forces arrayed against him. His lack of inter-personal and inter-species skills is now legendary. He is despised by dog lovers and TV pundits (two utterly different types of people). He brags egregiously about being a rich guy. He keeps saying things that show he is out of touch. He is up against a main foe — Rick Santorum — who is, arguably if not obviously — a much better “fit” for the demographics of the Republican race. There are vast reaches of the American landscape Romney simply doesn’t know (tho neither, when he ran in 2008, did Obama of Chicago.)

So how has Mitt done it? First, by raising money — gobs of it….

…Second, by running a pretty tight ship of top aides, with little infighting — at least not much that has leaked to the press. ….He has done it by changing or trimming or flat-out flipping his positions on every key hot-button issue of concern to the GOP base — and has done it with a kind of bland self-assurance that shows he has a key quality necessary for success in politics: an utter lack of concern for the otherwise fine quality of consistency….

…All that ducking and dodging has left Romney free to do what his team seems to relish the most, which is to beat the living crap out of any candidate who stands in the way.

Howard Kurtz:

The question after Tuesday night is this: does Romney’s sense of inevitably overtake the idea that he is still going to lose a significant number of these remaining primaries? To the political professionals, it does. But to voters in Nebraska and Indiana and West Virginia and Arkansas and Kentucky? What this means for Romney, even though he is now the putative nominee, is that he’s still going to face Tuesday nights where he’ll have some explaining to do. He may be on the verge of sealing things numerically, but he still has work to do to seal it emotionally.


Update: Here’s Romney’s speech; read the corresponding NBC analysis for data points on why this might, might, might finally be proof that Republicans are grudgingly coming around to him. With the possible exception of Florida, this is the biggest win of his campaign. Next up: Wisconsin.

Christian Science Monitor:

Returns from 47 percent of the state’s precincts showed Romney gaining 50 percent of the vote compared to 33 percent for Santorum, 9 percent for Ron Paul and 7 percent for a fading Newt Gingrich.

Exit polls showed Romney preferred by primary goers who said the economy was the top issue in the campaign, and overwhelmingly favored by those who said an ability to defeat Obama was the quality they most wanted in a nominee.

The primary capped a week in which the two campaigns seemed to be moving in opposition directions — Romney increasingly focused on the general election battle against Obama while Santorum struggled to escape self-created controversies.

Most recently, he backpedaled after saying on Monday that the economy wasn’t the main issue of the campaign. “Occasionally you say some things where you wish you had a do-over,” he said later.

Over the weekend, he was humbled in the Puerto Rico primary after saying that to qualify for statehood the island commonwealth should adopt English as an official language.

Michael Tomasky:

Romney still has to gut this out. The question after Tuesday night is this: does Romney’s sense of inevitably overtake the idea that he is still going to lose a significant number of these remaining primaries? To the political professionals, it does. But to voters in Nebraska and Indiana and West Virginia and Arkansas and Kentucky? What this means for Romney, even though he is now the putative nominee, is that he’s still going to face Tuesday nights where he’ll have some explaining to do. He may be on the verge of sealing things numerically, but he still has work to do to seal it emotionally.

Some Tweets from political science maven Larry Sabato:

The question isn’t who’s the nominee. It’s whether Romney soars or limps into Tampa. That’s not determined yet.
1h Larry Sabato Larry Sabato ? @LarrySabato

Game-changer? Some pundits act like they didn’t know until tonight Romney would be the nominee.
2h Larry Sabato Larry Sabato ? @LarrySabato

Yes, Romney wins IL, as almost everyone expected. But what is the margin? That's what we need for breathless analysis.

Some Tweets from columnist Dick Polman:

Dick Polman ? @DickPolman1

Finishing 4th in ILL behind the likes of Ron Paul may imperil Newt Gingrich’s prospects of seeing a statue of Himself built on the DC Mall.
23m Dick Polman Dick Polman ? @DickPolman1

Romney at least said an “economic recovery” is on. Though it wouldn’t be as strong if the gvt had taken his advice & let car companies die.
1h Dick Polman Dick Polman ? @DickPolman1

Another Romney lie: He says Obama has banned “Thomas Edison’s light bulb.” It was Bush who signed the law phasing out the incandescent bulb
1h Dick Polman Dick Polman ? @DickPolman1

Check out the citizens arrayed behind Mitt. Count the blacks and Hispanics. Done yet?
1h Dick Polman Dick Polman ? @DickPolman1

Mitt is lying already: “Three years of Obama have brought us fewer jobs.” Can this guy read a chart?
1h Dick Polman Dick Polman ? @DickPolman1

Ann Romney: Angry women want us to talk about deficits! Translation: We’re losing women, so we gotta change the subject from contraception.

Some Tweets from Andy Borowitz:

Andy Borowitz ? @BorowitzReport

“Keep cheering and acting excited! He’s paying us to be here.” — Every person at a Romney victory rally
1h Andy Borowitz Andy Borowitz ? @BorowitzReport

Romney’s victory speech: “I love American democracy. I’m good friends with the owners of it.” #illinoisprimary

National Review:

Speaking after his Illinois primary victory, Romney trotted out new line after new line, aggressively making the case for free markets and reduced regulation.

“After the years of too many apologies and not enough jobs,” Romney told the hundreds gathered in a hotel ballroom (although there remained room for more), “historic drops in income and historic highs in gas prices, of a President who doesn’t hesitate to use all means necessary to force Obamacare on the American public but leads from behind in world affairs, it’s time to say, ‘Enough!’”

…..Romney also looked forward to the general election.

“This November, we face a defining decision,” he said. “Our choice will not be one of party or personality. This election will be about principle. Our economic freedom will be on the ballot.”

By and large, Romney’s stump speech has been the same throughout these state contests, little changing but what lines of America the Beautiful he quotes as he goes from state to state. But this speech shows he – and his team – were capable of producing better rhetoric. Tonight voters saw a Romney who has improved as a candidate thanks to the long primary.

Another Kurtz post:

The Illinois contest failed to generate much enthusiasm, even in the state, where local political leaders admitted that interest was low. In fact, ex-governor Rod Blagojevich heading off to prison was a much bigger story.

This is in part because the race wasn’t close, in part because the campaign has dragged on, and in part because Romney talks as much about the soporific subject of delegate math as themes that might energize voters.

One reason that Romney gets only a modest lift from these victories is that he is not battling the world’s most stellar field. If he wins, some people say, big deal, he beat a guy who got trounced in his last reelection bid by 18 points. And if he loses to that same guy, it’s even worse.

In one sense, Romney is trapped in the same stop-start cycle that has plagued him throughout the campaign—such as when his Ohio triumph was followed last week by losses in Alabama and Mississippi. Romney will have three days to enjoy his Illinois victory before Saturday’s primary in Louisiana, where Santorum is favored to win.

New York Times:

Surveys of Illinois Republicans leaving polling places showed that Mr. Romney not only won among the groups that usually support him — moderates, college graduates and wealthier voters — but also was competitive among Mr. Santorum’s generally more loyal coalition of Tea Party supporters and married women.

If there was one driving force for Mr. Romney, it was the desire of Illinois Republicans to defeat Mr. Obama in the general election. Mr. Romney was supported by nearly three-quarters of those who said in exit polls that winning in November was their top priority.

As Mr. Romney addressed supporters in a hotel ballroom in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, he congratulated his rivals and immediately turned his focus to the president. He belittled Mr. Obama’s experience as a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago and as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, saying the president was ill suited to lead the nation to economic prosperity.

Washington Post:

Despite the solid victory for Romney, who has eeked out more modest wins elsewhere in the Midwest, the contest is unlikely to dramatically shake up the basic geometry of the race. Though Illinois is a major prize for Romney, who will claim the majority of the state’s 54 delegates, the victory does not close the door on Rick Santorum, who will also win a portion of those delegates and has vowed to soldier on.

Speaking from Gettysburg, Penn., Tuesday night, Santorum argued that he is the only Republican candidate who remains true to his values, and promised to close the delegate gap by winning Louisiana’s primary on Saturday and then focusing on Pennsylvania, a delegate-rich state that holds its primary April 24.

“We’re feeling very, very good about winning Louisiana,” Santorum told a room full of supporters. “We’re heading to Louisiana for the rest of the week, and then we’re going to be back here in Pennsylvania, and we’re going to pick up a whole boatload of delegates and close this gap and on to victory.”

Santorum is hoping for a revival in Louisiana with the help of evangelical Christian voters there. The race then moves on to Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, which all vote on April 3. On Wednesday, Romney is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting in Arbutus, Md.

Despite the increasingly acrimonious tone of the race, exit polls showed that Republican voters in Illinois were not eager to see it end. About two-thirds of those who cast ballots Tuesday responded that they wanted to see their candidate prevail, even if it means the race will go on for months.

Democratic strategist Paul Begala:

An overlooked but critical piece of data in the Illinois exit poll: 40 percent of Republican primary voters said they had reservations about the candidate they voted for. Not a candidate they opposed, mind you. They had reservations about the guy they just voted for. You never heard that in the Hillary-Barack fight of 2008. Sure, some Clinton voters said they wouldn’t back Obama—and vice versa. In fact, four years ago Obama whupped Clinton in his home state of Illinois. But even as Obama racked up 65 percent of the vote, 60 percent of voters said they would be happy if Clinton ended up as the nominee.

Romney has won an important primary, and he is very likely to win the nomination. But he has yet to win the affection and admiration of his own party—much less of the independents who will decide the election in November.

Washington Post blogger Jon Cohen:

Familiar patterns emerged Tuesday in Illinois, with one of the more striking examples of how closely Mitt Romney’s fate has been tied to the proportion of evangelicals in Republican primaries to date.

In the Illinois exit poll, barely more than four in 10 GOP voters considered themselves born-again Christians, a shade below average so far in the contests with exit polls. Romney has yet to win when evangelicals make up more than half of all voters, but he’s also yet to lose when they’re less than 50 percent of a state’s electorate.