Illinois is a populous state. Even with the shift in population from the old industrial midwest to the sunbelt, Illinois still has many people. In terms of electoral votes, it is tied with Pennsylvania for fifth place, with 20 electoral votes. In the general election, Illinois is almost certainly a state that will vote Democratic, especially since it is the home state of Barack Obama. And even though the delegate allocation rules in the primary favor Republican-voting states, Illinois is still rich in delegates.

The early part of the primary race was a bit of a patchwork, but at this point the map can be filled in with only two colors. Mitt Romney winning in affluent, mostly suburban, communities, while Rick Santorum wins in rural and lower income areas. The only question at this point is exactly how fine the line is drawn. In both Michigan and Ohio, the line was drawn finely indeed. In Illinois, either because the demographics are slightly different (Chicago being a much larger city than either Detroit or Cleveland) or because the race has shifted, the answer came out a bit more clear cut. Mitt Romney won the state with 47% of the vote against Rick Santorum with 35%. The other two candidates scored under 10% each, and will not qualify for delegates.

If this was earlier in the race, I would say that not too much to the result. The state's demographics weren't favorable to Rick Santorum, he was heavily outspent, and Mitt Romney still couldn't pull out a majority. But it is getting late in the race, and while there are a number of large states that Rick Santorum has a good chance of winning, such as Texas and his homestate of Pennsylvania, they won't make up, either in delegates or in perception, because he has already lost too many big states.

To use a basketball metaphor that hopefully isn't overly folksy, before Illinois Santorum was like a team that was down by ten points at the half. Now, his position is more like a team that is down 15 points at the beginning of the final quarter. Even for Santorum to force the situation to go to a brokered convention would require a string of good luck on his part.

Of course, Illinois also raises some questions about Romney's performance. Even if we accept that he has finally become an "inevitable" nominee, we still have the fact that he couldn't clear a majority in a state that should be demographically and politically favorable to him, even after spending close to four million dollars, and against a candidate who is not particularly charismatic. Although it isn't unprecedented to have a candidate make it to their nomination the hard way, Mitt Romney seems unpopular with much of the Republican base, and even in Illinois, he is hardly the candidate by acclamation.

From here, the contests will be fewer and further between, and there doesn't look like there will be room for major surprises. If Romney does win the nomination, it will be hard to say when the turning point came. After covering the primary process for this long, I fear it will end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

As Glowing Fish observed, the electoral votes in Illinois will undoubtedly be cast for President Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential General Election. Illinois has been a reliably "blue" state for decades, largely due to the disproportionately large population of urban Chicago. This voting block turned out in very low numbers for the Primary election this year. The 24 percent of eligible voter turnout was the lowest in 70 years.

While it may be easy to dismiss this figure to the lack of a strong Republican base, the numbers in the surrounding counties may reveal simple general apathy. In adjoining DuPage County, only 25 percent of eligible voters turned out. White-collar DuPage, Lake, Kane, Will and suburban Cook counties are the homes to the state's Reganite, fiscally conservative, Republican base. The majority of registered Republicans who cast their votes for this primary, voted for Mitt Romney. The counties which included the state capitol, Springfield as well as East St. Louis, Bloomington, and Peoria also had a majority of votes cast for Romney.

In the remainder of "downstate" Illinois, the majority of votes were cast for Rick Santorumn. But, again, the voter turnout in these sparsely populated agrarian and conservative counties was poor. I believe that the vote in Peoria deserves some further attention. Peoria County is rural and conservative, the lardscape defined by corn and soybean fields and grain silos.

But the City of Peoria is the headquarters for Caterpillar Incorporated, the world's largest producer of heavy machinery. Recently, Caterpillar broke ground for a new factory in Athens, Georgia which shall employ about 1,400 workers. Caterpillar's CEO, Doug Oberhelman very publicly let the people of Illinois know that, due to Illinois current "political climate" concerning unfavorable business taxes, workers compensation laws and tort laws among other things, that Illinois was not even considered for a possible location for the new factory.

Corruption is synonymous with Illinois politics. Two of the last three elected Governors are currently behind bars. Yet in Chicago, the dynasty of mayor Richard Michael Daley was supported for over two decades by an enthusiastic majority. It is highly unlikely that any Republican will carry the Chicago vote in the general election. But to the blue-collared Illinois worker, traditionally pro-union and democratic voting, this business with Caterpillar is a smack-in-the-face, a wake-up call that jobs are at stake and change is necessary. This change may be a swing to the right in Springfield. A pro-business candidate may find stronger support in this environment. Mitt Romney won 47 percent of the vote, compared to Rick Santorum's 37 percent, in Peoria County. It could be possible that the discontent with the state of Illinois politics has had an influence on the Republican presidential primary vote.


2012 Republican Presidential Primary Election vote totals / delegate awards(official)

Newt Gingrich Ron Paul Mitt Romney Rick Santorum
73,362 / 0 85,872 / 0 430,535 / 41 322,831 / 10

REFERENCES
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/localelections/
http://www.cbsnews.com/primary-election-results-2012/county.shtml?state=IL&race=P&jurisdiction=0&party=R
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-low-turnout-0321-20120321,0,2075248.story
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-16/business/ct-biz-oberhelman-intvw-20120316_1_caterpillar-factory-illinois-caterpillar-ceo-doug-oberhelman

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