First, there was Iowa and New Hampshire. Then, there was Super Tuesday. At some point, there were other Republican primaries. And tonight, the resilient candidates find themselves in Illinois — a contest that is “make-or-break” for Mitt Romney.
With 54 delegates up for grabs in the state that is home to Barack Obama’s 2012 headquarters, this is the second biggest haul of delegates in the election and a great opportunity for Romney to get crushed.
Now, Illinois is a more moderate state:with the Windy City at its core, the Republican voters want to hear more about fiscal control than birth control. The suburbs outside of Chicago are home to the more affluent conservatives; you know, voters who care about their money being taken away, not their religious freedoms. This area is also home to almost half of the entire statewide Republican vote and these Republicans love Romney.
The ex-governor of Massachusetts, taking note of this ideological difference and support, has campaigned across the Midwestern state, trumping his economic credentials as a firing connoisseur at Bain Capital.
Rather than isolating women voters with extreme talks of contraceptives and hard-core pornography, Romney has been speaking to them on a more advisory level, comfortably warning them that their car pooling trips to the soccer games could be drastically affected by soaring gas prices.
This scenario is actually playing out quite well in Mitt’s favor and the state polls are reflecting this sentiment.
Rick Santorum, on the other hand, is barnstorming across Illinois as the go-to culture warrior alternative, labeling Mitt as a “Wall Street financier” who wants to “run the economy.” Probably not the best idea in a state that has a 9.4% unemployment rate, a number that is 1.1% higher than the national average.
(While getting all riled up about his rival’s shift of attention toward gas prices and beating Obama, Rick let loose another gaffe that really drove this whole not-having-a-job point home: “I don’t care about the unemployment rate. Doesn’t matter to me.” Ouch.)
Rick’s support comes from “downstate” Illinois, where his limited range of demographics may or may not exist. This, of course, includes evangelicals, rural folk, and the voters that describe themselves as “very conservative;” all of which are electoral outliers in a state like Illinois.
This breakdown more or less guarantees a Romney victory in the state, a second-place fail for Santorum, who swears by a brokered convention, and an absolute upset for the candidate who cannot get enough of himself, Newt Gingrich. Ron Paul must be out there somewhere.