An improved sense that he understands voters’ problems boosted Mitt Romney to victory in the Illinois primary, as did a less religiously focused, less strongly conservative electorate than he’s faced in other contests, especially to the south. But a shortfall among less well-heeled Republicans marks his continued challenges.
Indeed exit poll results indicated that Romney owed his victory in Illinois to two groups: voters with more than $100,000 in household incomes and those with college degrees. Among those less educated, or less well-off, he only split the vote with Rick Santorum.
Other factors helped Romney. Six in 10 Illinois voters said he has the best chance of beating Barack Obama, better than his average in exit polls this year. And Romney narrowly led Santorum as the candidate who “best understands the problems of average Americans.” It was only the second state, of seven where the question’s been asked, in which Romney’s prevailed on empathy. The other was Florida.
Among other advantages for Romney, the Illinois primary was characterized by far fewer evangelicals than most of the Southern contests and fewer voters seeking a candidate who shares their religious beliefs, two groups in which he’s struggled. Forty-three percent were evangelicals, about half their share in Alabama and Mississippi last week. Nearly half in those states were highly focused on shared religious beliefs; it was just a quarter in Illinois, fewer even than in Ohio early this month.Bloomberg reports:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney got a boost for his campaign's effort to paint his nomination as inevitable after a win in the Illinois primary led to an endorsement from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
"Now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall," Bush, the son of one president and brother of another, said in a statement today.
At The Washington Times, Ralph Z. Hallow writes:
The organization that ignited the tea party as a national mass movement gave Mitt Romneyperhaps his biggest victory yet, deciding to drop its opposition to his candidacy, a top executive in the group told The Washington Times.
FreedomWorks, which organized the Sept. 12, 2009, mass demonstration on the Mall, says that while it will not give an explicit endorsement, the time has come for Republicans to unite around the former Massachusetts governor and focus on defeating President Obama.
“It is a statistical fact that the numbers favor Mitt Romney,”FreedomWorks Vice President Russ Walker told The Times on Tuesday. “We are dedicated to defeating Obama and electing a conservative Senate that will help Romney repeal Obamacare and address the nation’s economic and spending challenges.”