Is Romney on a Roll?

Mitt Romney won going away on Tuesday in Illinois on a night that was deemed a must-win for the GOP frontrunner, but can he solve his Southern problem this Saturday? Daily Beast contributors on the state of the race.

03.21.12 2:09 AM ET

Mitt Romney Romps, Beating Rick Santorum in the Illinois Primary
by Howard Kurtz

Santorum misses a chance to stop the frontrunner in a big-state showdown. Howard Kurtz on why Mitt won—and what it means for the GOP race.

For once, Mitt Romney didn’t win ugly.

In the latest in a series of showdowns with Rick Santorum, Romney easily won the Illinois primary on Tuesday, padding his delegate lead and quieting, at least for the moment, a wave of noisy doubts about his candidacy. Romney was winning just under half the vote with more than 40 percent counted.



Mitt Romney’s Win in Illinois Is Just a Momentary Victory
by Michael Tomasky

Sure, Romney cleaned up in Illinois. But Santorum is still leading in a series of upcoming states. Michael Tomasky on the questions Mitt will be facing over the coming weeks.

Illinois was a breeze for Mitt Romney, and yes, numerically, maybe it’s getting close to done. But state by state, this still isn’t over. Rick Santorum remains likely to win Louisiana, which is next. Then comes Wisconsin on April 3. Santorum is still about 15 points ahead there right now. And it looks like Santorum has taken Missouri—again. So while Illinois probably means that Romney is on his way to the nomination, and maybe on his way to 1,144 delegates, it’s also a fact that Santorum isn’t going anywhere—and it’s the fact of Santorum’s continued presence in the race that is probably more meaningful, for the time being, than the number of delegates Romney has won.

As I wrote recently, Romney still has to gut this out. The question after Tuesday night is this: does Romney’s sense of inevitably overtake the idea that he is still going to lose a significant number of these remaining primaries? To the political professionals, it does. But to voters in Nebraska and Indiana and West Virginia and Arkansas and Kentucky? What this means for Romney, even though he is now the putative nominee, is that he’s still going to face Tuesday nights where he’ll have some explaining to do. He may be on the verge of sealing things numerically, but he still has work to do to seal it emotionally.



Mitt Romney Wins Delegates but Not Love in the Illinois Primary
by Paul Begala

Mitt Romney has won an important primary. But the real story of Illinois is Rick Santorum's defeat, says Paul Begala.

Mitt Romney got the win he needed in Illinois, dispatching the surprisingly game Rick Santorum and the increasingly lame Newt Gingrich.

Romney's win required the active assistance of Santorum. Perhaps buoyed, perhaps blinded, by his twin wins in Mississippi and Alabama, Santorum wasted precious time on a fool's errand: telling the people of Puerto Rico they will have to abandon their mother tongue, then telling voters in Illinois that "the unemployment rate doesn't matter to me." More than Mitt Romney's victory, the story of Illinois is Rick Santorum's defeat.



"A Conservative Businessman": Mitt Romney's Latest Reinvention Falls Flat
by Lloyd Grove 

Despite its peculiar leaps of logic, it was the most coherent argument Romney has delivered thus far as to why Americans should elect him president.

In his Illinois primary victory speech Tuesday night, Mitt Romney actually said the following: “This president”―i.e. Barack Obama―“is trying to erase his record with some new rhetoric.”

The Republican presidential frontrunner―the formerly moderate Massachusetts governor who once supported abortion rights and implemented a state health-insurance mandate that was the model for Obamacare―is either testing the limits of chutzpah or exploring the possibilities of political jujitsu, taking his perceived liabilities and turning them against his enemy.



Gingrich Might Withdraw From the Presidential Race for the Right Appointment
by Michelle Cottle

Gingrich had a humiliating loss in Illinois and faces a huge campaign debt. For the right job, he just might drop out of the race.

So Illinois makes, what, 31 of 33 primary contests in which the traveling sideshow that is the Newt Gingrich campaign has been stomped like so many wine grapes?

He finished the night at the back of the pack in the single digits. Even for a dilettante campaigner accustomed to being a second-tier player in a lackluster field, that’s pretty sad. Sadder still? Newt’s Illinois beat down wasn’t even the most humiliating development of the day.



Mitt Romney Romps In Illinois, But The Long Race Continues
by John Avlon

Despite Mitt’s Illinois margin of victory, the stubborn divisions within the GOP field will continue.

Mitt Romney stomped to victory in Illinois last night.  It was a decisive win, his broadest in a contested mainland state since Nevada.

He won among women voters, independent voters, voters whose top issue was the economy, according to exit polls. Significantly, he beat Rick Santorum among Tea Partiers and Catholic voters as well.