, Gloucester, MA

Election Updates

March 15, 2012

Romney faces critical battle in Illinois

CHICAGO — As the Republican presidential contest moves to Illinois, Mitt Romney finds his campaign parked squarely at the corner of perception and reality.

The perception: despite massive spending and a broad-based organization, Romney has failed to seal the deal with Republicans, most recently after finishing third in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday. He struggles with a conservative GOP core that doesn't trust him from his tenure as governor of liberal Massachusetts.

The reality: Romney holds a 2-to-1 lead over Rick Santorum in the convention-nominating delegate count and he will continue to amass more delegates as long as the former Pennsylvania senator and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich split the conservative, anti-Romney vote.

Underscoring the importance of next Tuesday's Illinois primary, where 54 delegates are at stake, Romney has moved up plans to campaign here, making his first visit Friday instead of waiting until Monday.

With Illinois, Romney again faces a critical battle in a state that once seemed assuredly his. A recent Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll showed Romney with a slight edge over Santorum but within the survey's margin of error. Like Michigan and Ohio before it, the moderate suburban dynamic of Illinois — where most of the state's Republican voters live — could benefit Romney and propel him toward the nomination.

But today's Illinois GOP is not what it used to be. A strain of conservatism that for decades had yielded to a Republican organization built by moderates has taken strong root. And despite Illinois playing a leading role in a Republican nomination contest for the first time in decades, there are questions whether turnout Tuesday will be significant.

On Wednesday, only 70 people greeted Gingrich, the first of the four remaining candidates to try to plant a flag in Illinois, at a welcoming event at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Election Updates

NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years