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Mitt Romney May Have Won Convincingly in Illinois but Republican Presidential Race is Still Far from Over

Posted on the 21 March 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Mitt Romney may have won convincingly in Illinois but Republican presidential race is still far from over

Mitt Romney. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, http://flic.kr/p/9itUtP

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has won a decisive victory over nearest rival Rick Santorum in the Illinois primary. The latest returns put the former Massachusetts governor 12 percent ahead of the social conservative, reported The Guardian at the time of writing. Illinois was considered by many political commentators to be a must-win contest for both candidates: for Santorum, victory would have given considerable legitimacy to his claim to be a viable presidential nominee; and had Romney failed to lead the pack in the state, criticism of his inability to seal the nomination would have got considerably louder.

So now Romney’s won the key primary and has more delegates than the rest of the Republican field combined, all the GOP-watchers can pack up and go home after a long rollercoaster of a nomination race, right?

Wrong.

Romney needs to amass 1,144 delegates ahead of the Republican convention in August in order to clinch the presidential nomination. But while Santorum’s campaign has taken a serious hit, the one-time Pennsylvania senator shows no inclination to leave the race – and neither do Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul. While Romney’s claim to be the presumptive nominee has been boosted by the Illinois, his rivals may yet amass enough delegates in the coming primaries to keep him from the magic number.

Inevitable? “Finally, after several months and untold millions of ad-spend dollars, the Republican party’s ‘inevitable’ nominee, Mitt Romney, acquired an aura of inevitability,” wrote Gary Younge on The Guardian’s Comment is Free. And not a moment too soon: “The time has come for someone to put this Republican race out of its misery. Club it, drown it, euthanize it in the most humane manner possible.” However, Younge said, wearily, that the race is still not over, and a Santorum comeback is not inconceivable.

Mitt Romney is ahead on delegate numbers, but his position still doesn’t look strong, with “62 percent of Republican primary voters so far voting for someone else, despite the weak alternatives”, pointed out John Avlon at The Daily Beast.

Race grinding on. “Illinois is a big win, but not a game changer,” wrote John Avlon at The Daily Beast. “The bottom line is that while Romney showed signs of modestly expanding his vote, he did not erase his credibility gap with the conservative populist base.” Avlon predicted that the race for delegates will “slog on” for the next few months, as Romney just can’t seem to unite the GOP faithful.

Viral video: Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

Romney needs to exploit Illinois victory. “Can Romney turn the victory into the last piece of data necessary to get the party to finally rally around him as the eventual nominee?” asked John Dickerson at Slate. Perhaps – but it would help if GOP elders such as Jeb Bush or Mitch Daniels would throw their support behind the former Massachusetts governor; and if the other candidates would drop out for fear of looking like “spoilers”. But, said Dickerson, it looks like Santorum and Newt Gingrich, at least, are going nowhere: “The Republican Party has cracks in it and a loud minority wants leaders who never surrender, thumb their nose at the establishment, and battle for principle.”

According to a new Qinnipiac poll, a hypothetical match-up between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the state of Virginia would lead to a decisive victory for the Democrat incumbent. “The poll points to momentum in the wrong direction in an important state. As recently as late December, Quinnipiac had Romney beating Obama, 44 to 42 percent,” wrote Amanda Paulson at The Christian Science Monitor.

Lack of enthusiasm. “All the talk about the lack of enthusiasm about Mitt Romney misses one key fact: that Rick Santorum’s supporters may actually be just as lukewarm about their guy,” suggested Aaron Blake on a Washington Post blog. Blake argued that recent primary results show Santorum has failed to exploit conservative Republicans’ desire for a Romney alternative. In Illinois and Mississippi, for example, “exit polls show as many or more of Santorum’s supporters say they were voting for him ‘with reservations’ as those who say they ‘strongly favor’ their candidate. Not exactly the picture of a conservative darling.”


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