Live Blogging the Illinois Primary

I’m knee-deep in grading and other tasks related to my day job, so I’m not doing a continuous live blog of the Illinois results tonight.  In part, that’s because the polling suggested Mitt should take this, and exit polls, which have him up over Santorum by 45%-35%, seem to confirm this.  Given that Santorum did not even fill out a full delegate slate, it seems likely that Mitt will walk away with most of the 54 delegates at stake.  If I get a chance, I’ll run through some of the exit poll data – as of the first wave, there’s no surprises.  The most relevant factor is that there are 41% self-described evangelicals voting – that’s the best indicator of how Romney’s likely to do.

And here it is – take it Wolf!  CNN now projects what we all knew: Romney has won Illinois.  Not much suspense.  In Ohio, the evangelical vote was 47%, and Santorum finished just behind Romney 38%-37%.  In Michigan, it was only 39%, and Romney won 41%-38% over Rick.  So with 41% evangelicals, it wasn’t likely Rick could pull this one out.

Once again, Rick faces a gender gap…..oh wait, he does better among women than men; Rick loses by 5% to Mitt among women, but loses by 11% to Mitt among men.  Let’s see if the CNN commentators trot out their contraceptive talk is hurting Santorum among women tonight.  Or maybe they finally caught on?

Meanwhile, once again Mitt’s support increases as one goes up the income ladder; he wins a whopping 54% of those earning $100,000 or more. That’s 37% of the voters today.  (Correction: I mistakenly said 54% of voters – now corrected.) They were only 30% of those voting in Ohio, and only 33% in Michigan.  While the CNN analysts are going to cite this as a big win for Mitt, it looks to me that he benefits by a more affluent voting pool.

I see former Middlebury student Ben LaBolt on CNN – Ben hasn’t shaved since I gave him an A- on his independent research paper.

By the way, Mitt lost the evangelicals to Rick, 47-35%.  He also lost the strong Tea Party supporters (31% of voters) 41%-38% to Rick.

Looks like two dominant themes among the CNN talking heads tonight.  First, will Newt drop out?  Answer – Of course not.  Not with Louisiana up next.  Second, does momentum swing back to Mitt.  Answer:  Of course not!  There’s no momentum in this race – there’s only demographically driven voting blocs!

Interestingly, based on exit polls Romney’s lead over Santorum would shrink to 46%-42% if only he and Santorum were on the ballot.  However, 10% – probably all Ron Paul supporters! – said they wouldn’t have voted.

Also undercutting the media’s “momentum” focus, it appears that despite Mitt’s Puerto Rico victory, Rick did better among voters who made up their mind “in the last few days” than he did among those deciding early than that.  Among the late deciders, (32% of voters), Mitt won 42%, Rick 40% – 5% more for Rick than he won among early deciders.

Not much more to say about this except to wait for the delegate count.  My rough estimate is that Mitt is going to clear 40 delegates, but that’s a very rough estimate.

Mitt is on.  Note that he’s ignoring his Republican rivals once more.  Another effort to portray himself as the inevitable frontrunner.  Lots of cute lines in this speech, including a jab at Obama as a “community organizer”.   Can “palling around with terrorists” be far behind?

Some of these cute lines are tongue twisters…  Mitt finishes with the soaring rhetoric, but it was an uneven speech.  Of course, he’s never going to be smooth on the stump.

Quick night tonight folks – my day job beckons!  I’m in a very very busy grading and writing stretch, so the blogging will be a bit more sporadic than I’d like in the next few days, but it can’t be helped, I’m afraid.  ….if I can, however, I’ll try to provide a quick update tomorrow.   Meanwhile, I’m working on several longer posts dealing with some rather misleading articles of late regarding presidential power.  Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, bottom line tonight: no evidence that Mitt has expanded his support to include lower income, evangelical or strong Tea Party supporters.  Nothing I see tonight suggests any change in the dynamics of this race, although that might not be what the talking heads say.

Meanwhile, Rick is on live at Gettysburg!  Wait, Gettyburg?  Is he the North or the South?

Ah, he’s channeling his inner Abraham Lincoln!

Interesting twist here by Rick – he’s trying to frame this election as a fight for freedom, against big government. Frankly, it’s a theme that will resonate more with the Tea party than does social issues.  it also is likely to play better in big states ahead after Louisiana: Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York….

It appears Rick is playing the long game – staking quite a bit on a strong performance in Pennsylvania – which doesn’t vote for another month.

By the way, Rick just accused climate change proponents of studying “political science!”  which, apparently, is worse than climate science…..I guess I should be offended…. .

CNN cuts away from Rick soon after he urges us to emulate Reagan in the movies and “saddle up”…..  I’ll take that as a cue to ride off into tonight’s sunset.

More tomorrow…. .


  1. Is the fact that Rick does better with women than with men really an indication that he hasn’t been hurt by the contraception talk? Isn’t it possible that the fact that he does worse with women than MITT does at least partly attributable to some of the extreme positions he’s taken on social issues? Or even more plausibly (particularly since Mitt is such an uninspiring candidate) couldn’t it be that women who otherwise might have voted just stayed home tonight?

  2. A – All of your points are valid. Of course, in the absence of additional data and more sophisticated analytic techniques we can’t be sure how Rick would have done had he not made the comments he did on the various social issues. He may have been hurt among men, for instance, worse than women. But that is my point: the CNN commentators instantly assumed, in the absence of definitive proof, that Rick’s comments must have hurt him more among women. However, we know from other research that the gender gap in voting has much less to do with attitudes toward so-called women’s issues (abortion, contraception, etc.) and much more with differences on government policies toward treatment of the most vulnerable in society. Keep in mind as well that the exit polls indicate that fully 75% of those voting saw economic issues as most important – not abortion. One other point – the contraception debate may have hurt Rick among women who are likely to vote Democratic more than Republican women voters, so he may pay a bigger price in the unlikely event that he wins the Republican nomination.

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