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Blogbuzz: The Illinois aftermath

 

Adding to his list of victories, Mitt Romney’s convincing win in Illinois has many bloggers analyzing what it means -- and if it could signal the end of the GOP race.

Conservative Erick Erickson of Red State simply says: “In Illinois, Romney won. Period.”

"The Santorum campaign stumbled badly in Puerto Rico, gave up a lead in Illinois, and the candidate proved horribly undisciplined. Like Dug the dog in Up getting distracted by every random squirrel, Rick Santorum loses all ability to focus when social issues come up. His lack of discipline and message focus steering those issues to families as he did so beautifully in the Mesa, AZ debate has hindered him and solidified a media narrative that he is more concerned with those issues than jobs and the economy. It is not fair. It is not even accurate. But fairness and accuracy are rare commodities in American retail politics and Rick Santorum has not leveraged his strengths well.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney’s win in Illinois still highlights his struggles. Blue collar voters are not fond of him. Staunchly conservative voters are not either. Evangelical voters also are not fond of him. The voters do not feel quite comfortable with their pick. But though evangelicals and social conservatives are the base of the base of the Republican Party, they are not enough to stop Mitt Romney and a spending advantage some have estimated topped 20 to 1 against Santorum in Illinois.”

Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast notes that although Romney won, he continually struggles to convince the Conservative base, which can pose a problem in November.

“…In a state where Romney did very well, with a 12 point margin over Santorum, that he still lost non-college educated whites by 7 percent and was essentially tied with Santorum among those earning under $50,000 a year. I think this means real vulnerability to the attack line coming in the fall that he is the Wall Street mega-rich candidate who wants even more tax cuts for people like him and Ryan-style cuts in the safety net. And he still lost the white evangelical vote by seven points.

I don't think his weakness among the very conservative matters much for the general. They'll turn out for him. But I do think his continued weakness with the core enthusiasts in the GOP base, white evangelicals, is a potential problem for turnout this November. Some of it is surely about his Mormonism; some of it his patrician Yankee style. But he'll need something powerful to motivate these voters, while not poisoning his appeal to moderate Republicans by emphasizing issues like abortion, gays and contraception.”

But Jay Cost, conservative contributor at National Review Online, says if Romney continues to win with his core groups, the path to the GOP presidential nomination will come sooner than later.

“Without a substantial shift in these major blocs (suburban, upscale, relatively moderate voters), there is no way Santorum will come close to Romney in terms of votes or delegates. The electoral math is simply undeniable: The Mid-Atlantic states and California, where demographics favor Romney, are still to vote; plus, the big delegate hauls remaining in the South — North Carolina and Texas — are more like Florida than Mississippi, full of upscale, suburban voters who have typically backed Romney...

Thus, the Pennsylvania primary in late April is key. The demographic mix will favor Romney, but it is Santorum’s home state. If Romney wins there, game over. If Santorum wins, then the race will probably drag out until June.”

Jennifer Rubin, a pro-Romney conservative opinion blogger for the Washington Post writes that after Romney’s victory last night in Illinois, he is finally receiving the credit he deserves. 

“Mitt Romney’s Illinois win was so impressive that neither Rick Santorum nor the press corps bothered to spin the results. Whatever the verb — “crushed,” “rolled,” or “clobbered” — there was rare consensus that Romney had finally crossed the threshold from “weak front-runner” to ”presumptive nominee.” Both the extent of the victory and the reminder that Santorum is essentially a well-funded Mike Huckabee (winning only in rural areas or among very conservative evangelicals) have, it seems, forced the chattering class to adjust its analysis to fit reality...

As we’ve said before, by the end of a presidential primary, the winner seems more polished and presidential than at the beginning of the contest. This is both a factor of how we view him and the shot of confidence a candidate gets after all the elections, speeches, debates and interviews. It is a grueling process, but in the end the winner is elevated. The press and Democratic operatives would have us believe that Romney has been diminished by the process. In fact, as last night demonstrated, quite the opposite is true.”