Open thread: Illinois; Update: Exit poll added; Update: Fox News calls it for Romney; Video: Romney speech added

posted at 7:37 pm on March 20, 2012 by Allahpundit

Polls close at 8 p.m. ET. Hey, remember six days ago when this was going to be Santorum’s last, best chance to steal a major “Romney state” away from Romney (in the midwest, no less) and make a real race of this thing? According to the pollsters, that chance has come and gone. I wonder why.

As much as I enjoy the all-night election threads, looks like we’re destined for this one to be called promptly at eight. Exit polls and video of the speeches will follow below but no cliffhangers tonight, alas. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, says Nate Silver — it tolls for Sweater Vest:

In fact, Mr. Santorum now looks like he’ll win no more than a third of the 54 delegates that are at stake on Tuesday. Illinois awards its delegates entirely by Congressional district — two to four at a time. If Mr. Santorum is losing the state by 10 or more points, he is unlikely to win any of the 12 Congressional districts that are divided between Chicago and its suburbs. And he has no chance at all of winning the 13th Congressional District, which is more favorable to him but where he failed to get enough signatures to get his delegates on the ballot…

Say that Mr. Romney wins the 16th Congressional District, which includes some areas on the far outskirts of the Chicago metro area, but Mr. Romney holds the other four. That would make the delegate count for the night Romney 40, Santorum 14, and put Mr. Romney ahead by almost 300 delegates — 561 to 267 — in the national total.

That isn’t a close race, nor is it one that it is likely to require a brokered convention to resolve. If that is the count after Illinois votes, Mr. Romney would require only 46 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch a majority (he was won about 55 percent so far), and only 39 percent to clinch a plurality.

Per Jeff Greenfield, there may be one last path left to deny Romney the nomination. Change the rules:

If Romney has not secured the nomination by the time the delegates convene in Tampa, Fla., at the end of August, the prospects for a genuine floor fight are greater than you might imagine. The reason is that delegates who are bound or pledged to a candidate are only obligated to follow his wishes when it comes to voting for a nominee. And in most contentious conventions, it is a fight over the rules that has effectively determined the nominee…

Suppose the challenge to Romney is broader, and that, like the Kennedy forces did in 1980, the opposition offers a rule to free all the delegates from their commitments on the ground that the primaries have demonstrated Romney’s weakness. Here, we could see a number of delegates bound to Romney vote to liberate themselves from the obligation to vote for him. (Again, we should note that delegates bound to vote for Romney as the nominee don’t have to side with him on other votes that stand to determine his fate.) Sure, most delegates would probably stand by the former governor on grounds of loyalty, fairness or fear of reprisals. But if Romney has not garnered a large enough share of delegates by convention time, it would not take many defections to make every delegate a free agent, and thus turn the whole convention upside down.

Maybe, but don’t forget that there are 123 superdelegates in the mix too, the vast majority of which are likely to break for Mitt in the interest of avoiding a floor fight if he shows up in Tampa on the cusp of 1,144. If he rolls out a pledge from, say, 100 superdelegates to back him and that puts him over the top, how likely is it that the other delegates will refuse him a nomination that he’s essentially clinched?

Here’s CNN’s Illinois election page for real-time results. You know the drill by now: Metro areas (i.e. Cook County and its surroundings) belong to Team Mitt, rural areas belong to Team Sweater. Whoever overperforms in the other’s stronghold will have a good night. Updates to come below. Exit question one: Can Romney hit 50 percent? If so, I wonder if he’ll use his victory speech to formally call on Santorum and Gingrich to drop out. If not, expect the media narrative tomorrow to look something like this. Exit question two: How much longer can Newt hold on? He already has as much campaign debt as cash on hand and the donations are drying up.

Update: Michele Bachmann: “At this point, we would be better off if we could unify around a candidate, whoever that candidate may be.”

Update: Preliminary exit polls already looking good for Romney:

Preliminary exit poll results find that six in 10 Illinois voters see Romney as the candidate with the best chance of beating Barack Obama, a bit better than his average across exit polls this year. More strikingly, Romney also leads Rick Santorum, albeit narrowly, as the candidate who “best understands the problems of average Americans.”

It’s only the second state, of six where the question’s been asked, in which Romney’s been poised to beat his rivals on empathy. The other was Florida.

Update: Here’s the exit poll promptly at 8 p.m. No call yet, but assuming the exits are right, Romney wins by 10 points with 45 percent of the vote. Back with highlights in a moment.

Update: Demographics have been destiny so far in the primaries and Illinois is no different. Scroll through the exits and you’ll see lots of familiar trends: Santorum wins voters with no college education while Romney wins college grads and up; Santorum wins lower-income voters while Romney wins the rich; Santorum wins the “very conservative” while Romney cleans up with centrists and independents; Santorum dominates among evangelicals while Romney dominates among non-evangelicals; Santorum crushes Romney among those who say it’s most important that the candidate’s a “true conservative” while Romney crushes Santorum on electability. Two interesting outlier data points, though — and bear in mind that the exit numbers will change slightly over the course of the evening as more data comes in. First, Mitt Romney, the tea party choice?

And second, Mitt Romney, the Catholic choice — in a landslide:

And then there’s this. When I first looked at the exits, it broke 48/40 for Mitt. As CNN’s refined the data, it’s shrunk:

That supports the conventional wisdom on Newt dropping out. Santorum closes the gap, but not enough to win. And Romney actually picks up a few votes, which puts him a tiny bit closer to winning a majority of delegates.

Update: At 8:33, the FNC decision desk says it’s all over. Now we wait for the speeches and to see how close Romney gets to 50 percent.

Update: Just got a blast e-mail from Team Newt. No gracious concession tonight:

“To defeat Barack Obama, Republicans can’t nominate a candidate who relies on outspending his opponents 7-1. Instead, we need a nominee who offers powerful solutions that hold the president accountable for his failures. Over the past few weeks, my $2.50 gas plan has shown how America could have cheaper gas, more jobs and greater national security while putting the White House on the defense over their anti-American energy policies. This is the type of leadership I can offer as the nominee, and this campaign will spend between now and when the delegates vote in Tampa relentlessly taking the fight to President Obama to make this case.”

Update: Here’s your tweet of the day from Newt, who’s dead last in Illinois as I write this — behind even Ron Paul:

Low turnout tonight. A nominee that depresses turnout won’t beat @BarackObama. Still time for a conservative. Join us

Update: Don’t look now, but with 53 percent reporting, not only is Romney outperforming the exit polls, he’s tantalizingly close to 50 percent. Right now he leads Santorum 48/34.

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.

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http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/20/romney-gets-tepid-tea-party-support/

This should cheer Rmoney supporters up. Remember though who it is. Some supporters here have had some negative things to say in the past. But hey an endorsement is an endorsement.

Bmore on March 21, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Well if you think being the “father” of such a failed concept is “well-positioned”, I don’t know what to say.
That fact that Mitt can’t take a stand on these major issues, is one of the reasons he does not have the support of the conservative community.
right2bright on March 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM

If the Supremes uphold Obamacare, Romney can still ride the public anger and NOT be accused, like every other GOP nominee, of “not caring” about health care for the uninsured. This type of reasoning helps with independents.

If the Supremes knock down Obamacare, then the public fever will dissipate and the issue will have much less resonance. Romney can still run against Obamacare for those who still deeply care about this issue. Romney’s 10th Amendment position is also validated.

matthew8787 on March 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM

He sold out his integrity for a chance for it to be “his turn” in 2012.

ITguy on March 21, 2012 at 11:01 AM

You’re making a lot of assumptions. Almost every candidate who drops out of the race does so after proclaiming that they will not drop out.

Plus, Mitt was pretty much financing his campaign with his own money by that point (before Super PACs) and I think the odds of him winning were starting to look slim. He’s a business guy and the cost/benefit analysis was starting to go in the wrong diretion.

You could be right, of course, but given all of the things that could happen in 4 years, it’s hard to believe that he would give up a solid shot then, if he believed he had it.

Priscilla on March 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

This prejudice is not confined entirely to the South but it’s obviously most significant in the so-called “Bible Belt”.

Buy Danish on March 21, 2012 at 7:47 AM

Wow, That’s supposed to be evidence that there is a whole group of voters who won’t vote for Romney because they have an anti-Mormon bias? Well, I guess I will have to bow to the brilliance of your reasoning powers.

JannyMae on March 21, 2012 at 11:23 AM

I never got Jindal’s appeal. I don’t know what it is that people think they see in the guy, but I don’t see much there.

MJBrutus on March 21, 2012 at 1:17 AM

Perhaps the highest IQ in politics, brilliant resume, cleaned up one of the most corrupt states in the nation, Dems couldn’t even find a viable candidate to run against him for his reelection campaign, independents love him, one of the few that could please the establishment and the base, likeable, very quick on his feet, skilled debater, and has no baggage.

GOPRanknFile on March 21, 2012 at 1:21 AM

MJBrutus – LOL

Oh, Jindal’s a nothing. Just ignore the fact that he could take on the entire Democrat Congress – representatives and senators – in a no-notes debate, and wipe the floor with them… even if they were all allowed to slip each other notes….

cane_loader on March 21, 2012 at 11:31 AM

This prejudice is not confined entirely to the South but it’s obviously most significant in the so-called “Bible Belt”.

Buy Danish on March 21, 2012 at 7:47 AM

Wow, the links you posted are supposed to prove your assertions!? Two, INDIVIDUAL pastors, calling Mormonism a cult is proof that there are groups of anti-Mormon voters in the bible belt who won’t for Romney?

Okay, let’s say you’re right. Now explain how Romney can beat Obama if he can not win in the bible belt.

I’d say it’s more likely that you’re promoting this idea so that you can make excuses for Mitt not carrying those states in the primary, but that would be dishonest, and you would never be dishonest, woukd you?

JannyMae on March 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Yawn.

Mittens spend millions, outspend all opponents by a 7-1 margin, and wins by a meager 12%, not even reaching a majority of votes casts?

Has there ever been a GOP primary contest where the frontrunner has failed to win a single contested STATE by a solid majority this far out? We are about to enter month 4 in this primary season.

Norwegian on March 21, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Yikes. He’s debating you, not attacking you. Lay off the obscenities and epithets.

almosthandsome on March 21, 2012 at 2:49 AM

No. He’s not debating me. He’s lying, and he’s accusing me of lying.

Who made you blog policeman?

JannyMae on March 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM

JannyMae on March 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM

I provided two examples to illustrate how deeply instilled the idea that Mormons are cult members is among a subset of religious southerners. Nobody denies this is true – except you. As for winning the South, you think Obama is going to win, say, Georgia or Alabama?

Buy Danish on March 21, 2012 at 11:54 AM

you think Obama is going to win, say, Georgia or Alabama?

Buy Danish on March 21, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Not a chance.

Bmore on March 21, 2012 at 12:07 PM

I never got Jindal’s appeal. I don’t know what it is that people think they see in the guy, but I don’t see much there.

MJBrutus on March 21, 2012 at 1:17 AM

Perhaps the highest IQ in politics, brilliant resume, cleaned up one of the most corrupt states in the nation, Dems couldn’t even find a viable candidate to run against him for his reelection campaign, independents love him, one of the few that could please the establishment and the base, likeable, very quick on his feet, skilled debater, and has no baggage.

GOPRanknFile on March 21, 2012 at 1:21 AM

MJBrutus – LOL

Oh, Jindal’s a nothing. Just ignore the fact that he could take on the entire Democrat Congress – representatives and senators – in a no-notes debate, and wipe the floor with them… even if they were all allowed to slip each other notes….

cane_loader on March 21, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Jindal’s one of those rare people that does much better if he DOESN’T have a teleprompter in front of him. He’s got a mind like trap-and he’s still a few months shy of …41!
I love my Bobby Jindal-in a very rational, non-cultist sort of way.

annoyinglittletwerp on March 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM

You could be right, of course, but given all of the things that could happen in 4 years, it’s hard to believe that he would give up a solid shot then, if he believed he had it.

Priscilla on March 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Romney, Huckabee, and Paul had similar conditions in 2008 as Gingrich, Santorum, adn Paul have now… their best shot at a chance for the nomination would come from keeping the fight going and forcing a brokered convention.

What Romney did in 2008 would be analogous to the following in 2012:
1) Gingrich, having now vowed to battle all the way to the convention,
2) breaks his promise less than 48 hours after making it,
3) drops out of the race,
4) lies about his reasons for quitting (blaming it on the war on terror)
5) not only endorses Romney, but also
6) “releases” his delegates (who are pledged to vote for Gingrich) to vote for Romney in the 1st round of voting (and thereby trying to force Santorum out of the race because it would be that much harder for Santorum to keep Romney from winning in the first round voting).

ITguy on March 21, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Obama is going to Eat Willard Fillmoure Romneycare’s lunch. When that happens, it’s time for a new political party. This man will be the final betrayal of the Republicans against the conservatives. The moderates can do without our votes – they have said as much time and time and time again on this very site.

Obama is on you, I won’t vote for this turkey, and all o you Mittbots told me I don’t matter, so win without me and my family. And my congregation. And my employees. And those I try to convince to think like me – which I will dedicate my every waking moment to attacking Willard.

Count on it.

SilverDeth on March 21, 2012 at 1:48 PM

I’ve mentioned this many times but it bears repeating: Romney’s Georgia Co-Chair is the brilliant Attorney General, Sam Olens. He is among those who will be arguing for repeal of ObamaCare to the Supreme Court. I hope this helps allay your fears…

Buy Danish on March 21, 2012 at 10:52 AM

I wasn’t aware of this, goes to show how you can get tunnel vision when you get to emotionally invested in a candidate. You overlook much.

KickandSwimMom on March 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM

I’ve read your posts, and do deeply respect your position. Let’s just say, it’s a long time till November 6th, and the forge of a national general election will temper both Romney, and maybe our views of him. I’m an optistmist generally, and I do believe most people are basically good,.. there are exceptions, but when the chips are down, you can see the true measure of a man’s worth.

If Romney is not to be trusted, it’ll become generally apparent soon enough..

You have to decide I think, this kind of promise, to an entire nation, which still rejects Obamacare by such a wide margin.. I think Romney is not going to go back on his pledge easily, it’s unlikely that he’ll be inclined to fracture part of his winning coalition to appease aa few Senate rino’s or dem liberals. It all hinges on his mandate, he has to win big enough.. no one can say he lacks a clear mandate to do as he pledged.

We also have Congress,.. I worry more about the Speaker than Romney at this point.. he seems to eager to compromise.

We’ll see..

ITguy,.. I’m not doing this lightly,. and I’m watching,.. We all are.

mark81150 on March 21, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Obama is on you, I won’t vote for this turkey, and all o you Mittbots told me I don’t matter, so win without me and my family. And my congregation. And my employees. And those I try to convince to think like me – which I will dedicate my every waking moment to attacking Willard.

Count on it.

SilverDeth on March 21, 2012 at 1:48 PM

yes,.. many did say that, but they are wrong..

we need every vote and no one isn’t needed. Too many people on both sides have used the primaries as a hunting license to settle scores with people who simply disagree on the direction the party should go in. I’ve seen everyone made fun of, everyone lash out in anger.

The party is a big tent, there are views I find repulsive, such as pure libertarianism, I could never support an extremist in that camp such as Paul. But I’ve seen intolerant athiests slam the faithful and taunt us about being kicked out of the party. I’ve seen mods belittle us as toothless morons, and the mods kicked for being snobbish elitist prigs.. that I’m sorry to say I was guilty of too.

Don’t think you aren’t needed in the party, you are your family is.. you’re of great value when the liberals are working their best dirty tricks to ruin our chances.. I know the taunts on election night get under your skin, they did mine too.. but please.. Romney has recently himself admitted he needs us. His outreach ideas, telling his staff to work on including us in his campaign..

He is trying to reach out.. we should at least hear what he has to say, don’t you think?

please, do not stay home,.. if no one else does, my family needs your help to win in November. We can’t handle 4 more years of decay in Ohio, people are leaving, packing up and fleeing the state for those few that are generating jobs..

Don’t give in to dispair.. we can do this.

mark81150 on March 21, 2012 at 2:09 PM

It’s a little bit different in our church. There is a lot of vetting going on. And those who do almost anything against the standards of the Church are removed fairly quickly. We believe that they are acting a direct messenger of God. So they better be worthy.

TheNumberJ on March 21, 2012 at 1:27 AM

Didn’t Joseph Smith and Brigham Young keep their offices until they died? I mean those two left quite a trail of deeds and sayings. A “messenger of God”? As in they get telephone calls or something? Like an angel?

I’m not really sure I’m comfortable with that in the Presidency. We have someone now who thinks he’s the messiah. Now the Republicans are supporting someone who thinks he’s an actual messenger from God? Yikes.

Portia46 on March 21, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Portia46 on March 21, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Sorry Portia46, that kind of crap from you won’t fly anymore. You guys lost. You now have the option to simply fume and be irrelevant to everyone, hurt the country further by voting for Obama, or choose a patriotic American like Romney. Your choice.

Btw Allahpundit, love the “Undone” music for Sweater Vest.

scotash on March 21, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Sorry Portia46, that kind of crap from you won’t fly anymore. You guys lost. You now have the option to simply fume and be irrelevant to everyone, hurt the country further by voting for Obama, or choose a patriotic American like Romney. Your choice.

Btw Allahpundit, love the “Undone” music for Sweater Vest.

scotash on March 21, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Ahhhhhh. Romney, like Obama, doesn’t like the First Amendment? Did you READ what I responded to? A Messenger from God? This is what Romney says and we’re not supposed to comment on the outrage? Seriously? I continue to be very afraid for our future and until Obama’s goons or Romney’s goons throw us into a gulag for speaking against “god’s messenger”? And you’d best be prepared. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are going to be the most quoted historical figures in this election.

And why that is irrelevant, I do not know. Are you actually saying that what a man or woman believes is irrelevant to who they are and how they’ll govern? Didn’t we try that with Obama? Weren’t we told that regardless of his mentors, his speeches, his church, he was middle of the road normal? And wasn’t THAT a crock.

I honestly do not know what I plan on doing in the election. After his speech last night I thought “maybe” and then today I read that his positions in the Primary are all sham and I read the threats from Romney supporters and remember the names I and others have been called and find I can’t surrender my conscience to a man who despises me and seeks to destroy my country.

Portia46 on March 21, 2012 at 5:00 PM

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