Karl Rove said earlier today that the “magic number” for Romney in Illinois was 29; Romney had to get 29 delegates in order to maintain his lead and to show that his momentum hadn’t stalled.
Now that voting is finished, Romney actually got 43 delegates, well ahead of what Rove predicted Romney would need.
It’s an impressive victory that shows Romney is not just maintaining his lead, but actually widening his lead and, more importantly, broadening his appeal among Republican voters.
The New York Times said:
Surveys of Illinois Republicans leaving polling places showed that Mr. Romney not only won among the groups that usually support him — moderates, college graduates and wealthier voters — but also was competitive among Mr. Santorum’s generally more loyal coalition of Tea Party supporters and married women.
The Washington Post goes on to say that Romney’s argument that the “right experience or background” is essential to beating Barack Obama and being a good president appears to be working.
Santorum has not won “experience” voters in a single state. Not one. (Read that again. It’s important.)
That is significant and could well be the key to Romney’s messaging as he moved forward in the race. Arguing the delegate math or even electability hasn’t closed the sale for Romney. Focusing on his experience and contrasting it with that of Santorum is working.
Thanks to Illinois, Romney is one step closer to the nomination and, as many political pundits are saying, this is most likely the beginning of the end for Rick Santorum.