John King on CNN is reporting preliminary reports from their exit poll. It looks like it is going to be a good day for Mitt Romney.
According to CNN, the cities and suburbs make up roughly 80% of Illinois Republicans voting today. That’s good news for Romney as their poll projects he’ll win almost half of those metro votes.
As is often the case, Santorum is running best with rural Republicans, but there aren’t that many of those voters in Illinois. Most Republicans in the Land of Lincoln are suburbanites and that has been Romney’s base this year. In terms of ideology, the exit poll reports that only about a quarter of Illinois Republicans call themselves “Very conservative,” while over 70% say they are either “moderate or somewhat conservative.” That is also good news for Romney.
Unless the exit poll is way, way off-base, it’s looking like a quick victory tonight for Mitt.
While both CNN and the AP are still estimating that Mitt has twice as many delegates as either Santorum or Gingrich, he clearly lost momentum tonight.
While the Deep South was clearly not his home turf, Illinois, particularly in the Chicago suburbs, has the kind of upper class white collar Republicans where he thrives.
Romney remains the leader in delegates….But if Santorum can pull the upset in Illinois, Mitt would be in deep doo-d00 (to borrow a phrase from the first George Bush).
Watch the “Collar Counties” that ring Chicago. They hold the key to the middle third of this Republican race.
CNN exit polls are projecting two tight three-way races in Alabama and Mississippi.
Even more interesting, the % of Republican voters who call themselves Evangelicals is 74% in Alabama and 81% (!) in Mississippi. Those two figures are the highest anywhere this year.
If Mitt Romney can win either of these two states tonight, he’ll take a HUGE step toward closing the deal.
Update: According to the “first wave” of CNN exit poll data, Romney is winning support along familiar lines: He’s doing best with upper income voters, moderates, older voters and those most interested in “electability.”
There isn’t much “crossover” voting in either state: Democrats are only 4% of the vote in Mississippi and 6% in Alabama. That’s partly because most conservatives left the Democratic Party years ago in these two states. (Carter in 1976 was the last Democrat to carry them).
Santorum and Gingrich are doing best with the most conservative and middle class Republicans.
Update: Biloxi is completely in and the Jackson area is 80% in. Mississippi looks like it’s gone for Romney and is a two-man race between Rick and Newt.
Romney still has an outside shot in Alabama because Birmingham and Mobile are still out.
Santorum and Newt are splitting the rural areas in both states — as expected.
Update: It looks like Mitt Romney might lose both Southern states tonight. But even if he finishes a close second or third in the Deep South, he still could get the most delegates because he’ll likely win the Hawaaii Caucuses big. No matter what, he’ll remain the big leader in total delegates.
Update: CNN calls Alabama for Santorum — and all that for a Penn State grad too! What would Bear Bryant think?
While Mitt Romney may not have the deepest level of support, he does have the widest. CNN is estimating that he’ll have 347 delegates after tonight, easily more than the rest of the field combined.
A good portion of his lead comes from his winner-take-all triumphs in Florida and Arizona, plus his near-sweep of Virginia. While an upset loss in Illinois or Wisconsin could leave him short of a first-ballot majority, the fact is that he’s pulling away from the rest of the field.
Accumulating delegates is the name of the game and Mitt is excelling at that. It’s not quite “Big Mo” (to borrow a term from the first George Bush), but he may get so far ahead that no one can catch him….
Update: CNN just called Ohio for Romney. His current lead is 12,000 votes out of over 1.2 million or 1%.
Romney carried both Hamilton County (Cincy) and Cuyahoga by 16,000 votes each. Both cities, which have both major league baseball and NFL franchises, provided his margin of victory. If Santorum had run even in either town, he’d have won Ohio tonight.
CNN is projecting a 75% win for Romney in the Gem State. This is hardly surprising as Mormons are a majority of Idaho Republicans.
As Ohio comes down the stretch to a photo-finish, Romney will get the majority of delegates there due to the fact that Santorum only filed a partial slate.
For momentum, bragging rights and fundraising, Rick needs Ohio more than Mitt.
If Mitt holds onto hid 38-37% lead, it’s apparent that Newt was the spoiler tonight: most of his 15% came @ Rick’s expense.
Update: With 90% of Ohio in, virtually all of Columbus and Cincy have reported.
Still outstanding is 40% of Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), plus a few suburbs (Medina County).
Santorum’s only hope for victory is that a few last rural counties can outvote the Lake City.
With 85% of Ohio precincts reporting, Santorum is clinging to a tiny 2,600 vote lead (out of over 1 million).
Some suburban areas of Cleveland and Cincy are still out, so that is good news for Romney.
However, parts of Dayton and Canton are also still out. If Rick can break through there, he’ll win.
Like many NBA games, this one is going down to the final shot….
Meanwhile, according to CNN, there was very little gender gap in Ohio for Santorum: he won 36% among men and 37% among women. That’s one reason why he doing better in Ohio than Michigan.
Santorum is easily winning the German Catholic rural vote in NW Ohio, while Romney is carrying the Irish, Italian and Polish Catholics in the big metro areas.
Romney is carrying older and wealthier voters, Santorum the opposite.
5% of Ohio primary voters are Democrats and Rick is winning them by 20 points. Legitimate cross-overs or liberal mischief?
Update: In a clutch performance that Pete Rose, Johnny Bench or Joe Morgan would have appreciated, the Hamilton County suburbs (Cincy) just delivered a big margin for Mitt, thus putting him back into the lead for the first time in 3 hours.
The Cleveland suburbs are also still out. Santorum will need a late surge from a few rural counties still out to score the upset.
College basketball fans surely remember the “4-corners” offense that the University of North Carolina would use to hold onto a late lead.
Today, Mitt Romney used a political version as he did well in the four regions of America: easy wins in Massachusetts & Vermont, a big win in Virginia, a big lead in Idaho and a close first or second in Ohio.
UNC won a lot games that way and it’s working for Romney….
While they may be real in the primary, I wouldn’t worry about those conservative voters in the fall. The Bible Belt, running from West Virginia thru Kentucky & Tennessee into Arkansas & Oklahoma were the only places in America where Obama ran behind Kerry.
Romney could have a 5-point fall-off there and still carry the South….
With CNN now giving North Dakota to Santorum, he’s won every Midwestern state so far except Romney’s Michigan. If Rick can pull the upset in Illinois on March 20 and in Wisconsin on April 3, he’ll have a very small chance at blocking Romney on the first ballot.
Holding onto his lead in Ohio will be key for Rick….
The re-scheduled Texas primary (tentatively set for late May) could loom rather large….But that’s only appropriate as everything is bigger in Texas!
In Ohio, the familiar GOP patterns are re-asserting themselves: Mitt winning the suburbs and Santorum the small towns.
As of 10 PM EST, Romney was carrying the three biggest metro areas (Cleveland, Columbus and Cincy) and roughly half of their vote was still out. That’s why CNN isn’t calling Ohio yet…..
According to the exit poll, evangelicals made up 73% (!) of Republicans in Tennessee, 71% in Oklahoma, and 45% in Virginia. In Ohio, they were 46%. In every state except Virginia, evangelicals were the backbone of Santorum’s support.
He must be kicking himself for not making the Virginia ballot!
Mitt Romney’s coalition in Ohio is very similar to how he won Michigan: he’s carrying Catholics, suburbanites, moderates and upper income voters according to the CNN poll. Rick Santorum is winning Tea Party acolytes, farmers and downscale voters.
Interesting: Romney is splitting conservatives with Rick. Given Mitt’s edge with moderates, this bodes well for tonight. Santorum’s best hope for an upset is a massive rural turnout that the exit poll hasn’t picked up. (This has happened before: the main the exit polls gave us President Gore in 2000 and President Kerry in 2004 is an under-estimation of rural votes.)
According to the CNN exit poll, Romney already has the good news of carrying Catholics in Ohio (as he did in Michigan).
But one overlooked advantage he has is that his path to the 1144 majority of delegates is actually a bit shorter. The reasons are that with Gingrich and Santorum not on the Virginia ballot, Romney will get 60% of the vote and meet the “winner-take-all” threshold in the OLD Dominion. Also, Romney will take Utah’s winner-take-all primary in June (unless he renounces his Mormon faith!).
So, that’s 1144 minus the 49 in VA and 40 in Utah. After tonight, Romney could be 1/3 of the way toward a Convention majority.
In March, the primary schedule returns to the South on March 6 with Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee voting on “Super Tuesday” with Alabama and Mississippi to follow a week later and Louisiana on March 24. With at least two debate/forums scheduled and six Southern states having primaries, March represents Newt Gingrich’s best (and perhaps last) chance to re-gain his momentum for the third time in this very volatile campaign. As Newt told CNN last week, he’s expecting another burst of strength: “This thing has had a wild rhythm. It resembles riding Space Mountain at Disney. I’ve been frontrunner twice. I suspect I’ll be the front-runner again in a few weeks.” As if on cue, the national Gallup Poll found Newt’s support increasing slightly from 13% of Republicans in mid-February to 16% on March 1.
Mitt Romney’s victories in Arizona and Michigan were probably good news for Newt as they prevented Rick Santorum from almost completely consolidating the Right and emerging as the sole conservative alternative to Romney. Now Newt will have another opportunity to rise in the South again.
Twice before, Newt became the frontrunner in the national Gallup Poll – in December before Romney buried him under a barrage of negative ads in Iowa and then again in January after Newt’s comeback win in South Carolina – only to be buried again in Florida by another onslaught of Romney attack ads. The South will tell if the former Speaker of the House has yet another comeback in him.
Newt has been forced to make a major effort in his home state of Georgia for fear of losing. If he does lose Georgia, his campaign is all over but the final concession speech. But if he can win four or five Southern states (neither Santorum nor he made the Virginia ballot) this month, he’ll be back in business.
Here’s why: because the South has voted Republican so often in the last generation, those states have been awarded numerous “bonus” delegates. For example, Georgia (76) has more delegates either Ohio (66) or Illinois (69) despite the fact Georgia had fewer people in the 2010 Census. Alabama has as many delegates as New Jersey, Texas has almost as many as California while the Golden State has over ten million more residents. And so on….Winning those pumped-up Southern primaries will catapult Newt back into second place in the delegate count and allow him to make one more run at Romney.
It certainly looks that way: Ronmey won big in FLA with economic conservatives, suburbanites, older women and Cubans.
So is Romney another Eisenhower — or another Bob Dole?
1) For Newt Gingrich to compete in February and March, he’ll have to do better with women: he only lost men by 5 pints, but lost women by 22.
2) Florida is not really a Southern state: over 70% of GOP voters and over 80% of all voters were born outside the South. If he can get back on track, Newt will win Alabama, Georgia, Miss, etc.
3) Romney’s strong showing in the suburbs of Florida bodes well for the long run.
4) Romney carried the votes of those who were either “moderate” or “somewhat conservative” by over 20 points. Newt won those “very conservative” voters by 43-29%.
5) Romney appears to be establishing a Center-Right coalition. That’s a winning formula for everywhere but the Deep South.
Mitt Romney built his huge Florida victory on the big metro areas, Northern retirees, middle and upper class voters, moderates and Cubans.
This coalition will be: a) very strong in big urban states like New York, Penn, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio; and b) indicates that Romney will be very competitive in Florida this fall. If Romney wins FLA in November, Obama is in deep trouble.