Mitt Romney has won the Illinois Republican primary, which is not a surprise. He has won by a comfortable double digit margin, which bolsters his case for the nomination. The win also weakens Rick Santorum’s cause, as Illinois was more or less a two-man race in an industrial state and he did not come close. He needs to stage a comeback in Louisiana.
But farther down the line, the Illinois vote has done great damage to Newt Gingrich’s candidacy. Gingrich finished fourth in Illinois, well behind the top two and even a couple of points behind Ron Paul. Coming on the heels of his surprise second-place finishes in the southern primaries he had staked out to win a week ago, Illinois hints that Gingrich is in a tailspin. More worrying for the candidate, his campaign revealed that it spent more than it raised in February.
Gingrich raised $2.6 million in February, while he spent $2.8 million and entered March with $1.5 million in his bank account. He carried $1.5 million in debt, down from $1.7 million at the start of the month.
The former U.S. House Speaker from Georgia put special emphasis on raising money in February – including a lengthy trip to California, a state that does not vote until June – as he did not compete in most of the primary and caucus contests waged in that month. But he still raised less than half of his $5.5 million total from January, a sum boosted by his dramatic victory in the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary.
Gingrich lost where he badly needed wins, and fared poorly in Illinois. His campaign is financially under water. If he does not win in Louisiana’s primary next week, where does he go from there?