Mitt Romney won Illinois. Romney is now the nominee.
The exit polls showed Romney with a double digit lead in the early evening, and the CNN crew had to be careful not to proclaim him the victor prior to the polls closing at 8 PM Eastern.
CNN waited until about 8:30 to call the race, but it was never in doubt.
Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are essentially running their own campaigns and they stink at it.
In Illinois, as in Ohio, Santorum didn't qualify delegates in four Congressional Districts and so was minus 10 before the polls opened yesterday morning.
Gingrich has given up. He pretends he's still in the race and as long as the Sunday shows keep booking him, he is, but he has as much chance of being the Republican nominee as … Dennis Kucinich who got beaten in a primary in Ohio last week.
There was an article in Politico.com yesterday detailing Newt & Callista skipping through zoos and museums where, historically, there have been very few votes rather than campaigning in places where there are.
The act is getting thin. If Gingrich gets out now, he will escape with his reputation. If he continues, he will become a punch line.
Gingrich will pretend he is still a factor in this race, but battling Ron Paul for last in the Illinois primary does not make that case very strongly.
Santorum spent precious days in Puerto Rico (rather than in Illinois) where he largely irritated the locals and not just because he was photographed on a lounge chair missing only a breathing hole on the top of his head to be mistaken for a beached whale.
Santorum cannot stay away from the social issues. Notwithstanding that poll after poll shows that Americans - Republican Americans - are focused on unemployment, gasoline prices, housing, and economic growth, Santorum keeps talking about things many Americans care about, but understand won't create jobs for their kids.
There is no reasonable expectation that Santorum can get the delegates necessary to win the nomination. The campaign held a conference call with reporters to explain why they thought the delegate race was much closer than everyone else thinks it is.
According to CBS' report on the phone call Santorum's staff "shows him with 311 delegates to Mitt Romney's 435" or minus 124 before the Illinois voting.
Problem is, the AP (and almost everyone else) sees the delegate race as 522 delegates for Romney, 252 for Santorum or minus 270 - more than double the deficit Santorum is selling - again, before the Illinois results.
Santorum chose to make his Illinois concession speech in Pennsylvania - his home state. People like me immediately thought: Why would he speak from Pennsylvania on the night of his most crushing defeat in this cycle. It only reminded me that he lost his re-election for U.S. Senator by 18 percentage points.
I thought this might have ended after Florida. Then I thought it might have ended after Super Tuesday. I now believe it ended last night.
Mitt Romney will be the nominee for President and will run against Barack Obama in the Fall.
The mechanism of the National Republican Committee will now begin to bend to the will of the Romney campaign.
Romney operatives will begin to show up at the RNC headquarters - not officially, but just to drop by - to begin looking at the plans that have been drawn up for the fall campaign.
They won't issue orders, the Romney operatives, but the RNC staff will be very sensitive to an arched eyebrow, a pointed question; or a smile and an nod.
Romney operatives will begin making phone calls to the RNC convention staff in Tampa. They will ask for - not demand - copies of early speakers lists, preliminary hotel assignments for state delegations, and who might have been promised precious Officer of the Convention credentials.
Santorum had a good run; an extraordinary run. He is correct. In the run-up to the Iowa Caucuses on January 3, Rick Santorum as a bit player in the back of the chorus line.
In the early debates Rick Santorum was at one end showing his lack of support in the polls.
Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich were all media darlings before Rick Santorum.
You know I am not a Santorum fan, but I give him great credit to have persevered this deep into the primary season.
He will do well in Louisiana on Saturday but there are no election activities after that until April 3; then nothing until the Northeast primary on April 24.
It is time. Over the next 30 days this will become blindingly clear.
Santorum and Gingrich should bow out and get in behind the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
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