Live blog of Illinois primary
March 20th, 2012
04:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Live blog of Illinois primary

(CNN) - Voters in Illinois delivered a decisive win for Mitt Romney in the state's Republican presidential primary. Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney and the three other Republican presidential candidates, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas battled for 54 delegates in the Land of Lincoln.

See the latest reporting from our producers and correspondents below and follow real time results at Read more here.

10:37 p.m. ET - @RickSantorum: Thank you to our supporters in Illinois. We’re taking this fight for freedom next to Louisiana.

10:32 p.m. ET - @DWStweets: Romney and his allies may have bought their way to another victory tonight in Illinois, but it comes at a heavy price:

10:03 p.m. ET - With 56% of precincts reporting, Romney received 47% of the vote to Santorum's 35%, Paul's 9% and Gingrich's 8%.

10:00 p.m. ET
- Was Tuesday night a tipping point for the other candidates to drop out of the race?

"There is no deus ex machina that is going to change the math of the race," Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told @piersmorgan, before adding Romney is ahead in the delegate count because he is ahead in the popular vote.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

10:58 p.m. ET - @mjaconicnn: Now on CNN @EricFehrn talking about @MittRomney "for the good of the country" stepped aside in 2008 when @SenJohnMcCain was ahead

9:57 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: If S hadn't gone so far on contraception, snobs, & Obama's false theology, & if he had a better AZ debate, this race wld b closer

9:55 p.m. ET
- @jimacostacnn: Santorum says he'll pick up a whole "boat load of delegates" in PA and then it's "on to victory."

9:53 p.m. ET - @MittRomney: Thank you, IL! We've taken one more step toward restoring the promise of America, and tomorrow we wake up & start again.

9:52 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: Santo's message is I'm the real deal, warts and all. Romney's is I'm a fixer and I can win. So far, R voters prefer Romney.

9:51 p.m. ET - Santorum said he is feeling "very very good about winning Louisiana on Saturday."

"Five days to a big win and a big delegate surge," he said.

9:50 p.m. ET - @alicetweet: @ricksantorum says this country needs someone they can trust – who speaks with conviction – not what a pollster tells them

9:48 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Santorum: "Obamacare, Romneycare. They're interchangable."

9:47 p.m. ET - @newtgingrich: Low turnout tonight. A nominee that depresses turnout won't beat @BarackObama. Still time for a conservative. Join us:

9:46 p.m. ET
- @jimacostacnn: Santorum: “We need someone who’s going to pull government up by the roots and throw it out." #Gettysburg

9:44 p.m. ET - Santorum, referencing the emphasis Romney put on "freedom" during his Tuesday night address, said "I'm glad we are moving the debate here in the Republican Party."

9:40 p.m. ET - Santorum, in remarks to supporters in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, said he will win downstate, central and western Illinois, areas "conservatives and Republicans populate."

"Happy about the delegates we're going to get too," Santorum said.

9:38 p.m. ET - @CrowleyCNN: Lots of new material in Romney speech drawing contrast w/ POTUS. Businessman v professor. General election speech

9:32 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Santorum speaking to overflow crowd in hallway outside ballroom.

9:31 p.m. ET - @alicetweet: @ricksantorum thanks supporters in the overflow area in Gettysburg

9:29 p.m. ET - The election in November will not be about "party or personality," but will center around "principle," Romney told supporters.

"Our economic freedom will be on the ballot," he said.

9:27 p.m. ET
- @PeterHambyCNN: Romney is reprising a lot of the language from yesterday's University of Chicago speech

9:26 p.m. ET - Romney said the American economy will change when the U.S. replaces a "law professor with a conservative businessman."

9:26 p.m. ET - @EWErickson: Most jovial Romney speech.

9:22 p.m. ET - Romney, addressing supporters in Schaumburg, Illinois, said the president "doesn't understand the genius of America's economy," something he said can't be learned from serving as a law professor or as a community organizer.

9:21 p.m. ET - @crowleyCNN: Mitt. "It's time to say this word 'enough.'" (For clarification, he's talking about Obama era.)

9:19 p.m. ET - @David_Gergen: End of debates helping Romney - he isn't seen as pandering as much to hard right. Can stick more to jobs and deficits. #CNNElections

9:14 p.m. ET - @newtgingrich released a statement following the results in Illinois:

"To defeat Barack Obama, Republicans can't nominate a candidate who relies on outspending his opponents 7-1. Instead, we need a nominee who offers powerful solutions that hold the president accountable for his failures. Over the past few weeks, my $2.50 gas plan has shown how America could have cheaper gas, more jobs and greater national security while putting the White House on the defense over their anti-American energy policies. This is the type of leadership I can offer as the nominee, and this campaign will spend between now and when the delegates vote in Tampa relentlessly taking the fight to President Obama to make this case."

9:10 p.m. ET - @ShanTravisCNN reported on ballot size problems in Illinois districts. Watch here.

8:54 p.m. ET - With 17% of precincts reporting, Romney received 56% support among Illinois voters, followed by Santorum's 27%, Paul's 9% and Gingrich's 7%.

8:44 p.m. ET - Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul told @andersoncooper fundriaing is "part of the game," but pointed to 150,000 donors who contributed less than $180 and are "putting their money where their mouth is."

8:42 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Boos and hisses at Santorum HQ in Gettysburg as CNN projects Romney to win IL.

8:41 p.m. ET - Romney won the Illinois primary, CNN projected based on exit polling and early vote totals.

8:38 p.m. ET - @David_Gergen: If Newt wins less than 10% and Santorum still loses big tonite, Romney greatly solidifies his role as frontrunner. #CNNElections

8:28 p.m. ET - With 1% of precincts reporting, Romney received 54% support, followed by Santorum's 29%, Paul's 10% and Gingrich's 6%.

8:25 p.m. ET - @David_Gergen: A 10 point Romney win tonite would be big. Let's see if the exits hold up in Illinois ( they didn't in MISS). # CNNelections

8:23 p.m. ET - @tromney: Tomorrow is my 42nd bday. And my parents' 43rd anniversary! A win in IL would be a great way to kick it off.

8:21 p.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: While we wait: Am I the only one who thinks this"Illinois-must win" business for Romney is overstatement?. It's a slog either way.

8:19 p.m. ET - Santorum spokesperson Alice Stewart told @andersoncooper she's confident the campaign is "going to get anywhere from two dozen to 30 delegates" in the Illinois primary. She also reiterated the campaign's decision to remain in the race until one of the candidates captures 1,144 delegates and the GOP nomination.

8:17 p.m. ET - @HowardKurtz: Only remaining drama is whether the media can turn an Illinois win into a Mitt setback...

8:15 p.m. ET - @adamplevycnn: IL has 54 dels at stake tonight. Here's what that means, and why they are so important: #CNNElections

8:07 p.m. ET - Santorum adviser John Brabender told @jimacostacnn Team Santorum expects Romney to do well in "moderate" Chicago counties ... like he did in Massachusetts.

8:03 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Hometown crowd filling in for Santorum in Gettysburg

8:00 p.m. ET - According to early CNN exit polling, 45% of Illinois voters supported Romney, followed by 35% for Santorum, 12% for Gingrich and 8% for Paul.

7:55 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: No music here at Santorum HQ in Gettysburg. But really hoping for something out of the Ken Burns collection.

7:53 p.m. ET - @crowleyCNN: Sitting in suburban Chicago hotel ballroom waiting for Illinois polls 2 close and "Still The Same" is playing & I'm thinkin "exactly"

7:45 p.m. ET - Of those who considered themselves very conservative in Illinois, 48% supported Santorum, compared to 34% for Romney, 13% for Gingrich and 5% for Paul, according to CNN exit polling. Among self-described moderate or liberal voters, Romney received 47%, followed by 27% for Santorum, 12% for Paul and 11% for Gingrich, according to CNN exit polling.

7:43 p.m. ET - Among Illinois voters who made $100,000 per year or more, 55% supported Romney, 28% supported Santorum, 10% supported Gingrich and 6% supported Paul, according to CNN exit polling.

7:22 p.m. ET - Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told @ErinBurnett the Republican presidential candidates have not approached him to fill the No. 2 spot on the ticket.

"They've got to win these primaries before they can think about this stuff," Ryan said.

7:21 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: On those freedom banners... Santorum accused Romney of abandoning freedom over health care just yesterday. Tonight's theme emerges?

7:18 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Freedom banners going up at Santorum HQ

7:06 p.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: lead political story on Chicago's ABC7 News opens with this: "When it comes to paper ballots, size matters."

7:04 p.m. ET - Of voters Illinois' urban areas, 45% supported Romney, 23% supported Santorum and 13% supported Gingrich, according to CNN exit polling.

6:47 p.m. ET - Kellyanne Conway, a Gingrich supporter, said a contested convention is possible. After a campaign meeting Monday, Conway said Gingrich thinks the 2012 campaign is a 2-person race between Gingrich and President Barack Obama, while Santorum and Romney debate each other.

"Newt is engaging the president," Conway said, adding that the former House speaker is "elevating this to a national conversation on the way to Tampa."

6:46 p.m. ET - Santorum spokesperson Hogan Gidley, on @JohnKingUSA said "we think we have a chance" to reach 1,144 delegates, adding that he has "confidence we're going to do that."

6:18 p.m. ET - Romney backer and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, when asked by @JohnKingCNN about a vice presidential run, said "nobody cares about V.P. ... we're trying to find a nominee."

5:45 p.m. ET - Bachmann: GOP needs to 'unify quickly'

5:37 p.m. ET - Forty percent of those polled from CNN exit polling in Illinois said the economy is getting worse, while 36% said it is staying the same and 19% said it is recovering. Thirty-seven percent considered themselves somewhat conservative, while 35% said they were moderate or liberal and 28% said they were very conservative, according to early CNN exit polling.

5:34 p.m. ET - Seventy-one percent of Illinois voters Tuesday were from suburban areas, compared to 18% from urban areas and 11% from rural areas, according to CNN exit polling. The same polling found the economy was the most important issue facing the country for 39% of those polled. Twenty-six percent said the budget deficit, 19% said abortion and 11% said illegal immigration.

5:09 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Trail findings... Funny signs edition

4:36 p.m. ET - @crowleyCNN: So in sunny, record breaking 80+ degree Chicago, Election Board reports "disappointing" morning turnout.

4:25 p.m. ET
- @crowleyCNN: "All my life's a circle". The Illinois Chapter

4:00 p.m. ET - @jhogangidley: The warmer temps make this difficult to believe, but the @RickSantorum campaign has sold more than 3,000 sweater vests. @FearRicksVest

2:00 p.m. ET - Boone and Rock Island Counties also reported problems with the size of their ballots. The issue was discovered shortly after the polls opened in Boone County around 7:30 a.m. and were resolved within the hour, the clerk's office said. Ballots from Rock Island County were a "a hare too big," according to Rock Island County Clerk Karen Kinney. She said replacement ballots were subsequently printed all voters were able to vote.

1:30 p.m. ET
- Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona won the 2008 Republican primary in Illinois with 47.5% of the vote to Romney's 28.6%, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 16.5% and Paul's 5%.

1:08 p.m. ET - Some of the ballots printed in Winnebag County, Illinois were too big for the vote counting machines, the county clerk's office announced. The issue will not affect voters but machine will be unable to count those ballots. However, all ballots will be counted and tabulated.

"The Office of the County Clerk wants to assure the citizens of Winnebago County that each and every vote will be properly counted," Winnebago County Clerk Margie Mullins said in a statement.

Where the delegates stand (pre-Illinois results):

Romney: 520
Santorum: 239
Gingrich: 138
Paul: 69

- 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination
- 2,286 total delegates
- 996 delegates so far
- 1,290 delegates remaining

- Romney needs 624 delegates to clinch the nomination (48% of the delegates remaining)
- Santorum needs 905 delegates to clinch the nomination (70% of the delegates remaining)
- Gingrich needs 1,006 delegates to clinch the nomination (78% of the delegates remaining)
- Paul needs 1,075 delegates to clinch the nomination (83% of the delegates remaining)

- Romney has 45% of the delegates needed to clinch
- Santorum has 21% of the delegates needed to clinch
- Gingrich 12% of the delegates needed to clinch
- Paul 6% of the delegates needed to clinch

Nuts and bolts:

– Polls open: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
– Open primary
– Delegates at stake: 54
– Allocation rule: Proportional
– Illinois registered voters (as of 1/25/12): 8,272,219

Filed under: 2012 • Illinois • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Rick Santorum • Ron Paul
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. kebo72

    Crowley reporting "So in sunny, record breaking 80+ degree Chicago, Election Board reports "disappointing" morning turnout". Well, it is Chicago. It's a Democrat strong hold. What else do you really expect?

    March 20, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    I thought the people of Illionis didn't like any of the candidates. I would stay home also.

    March 20, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. Frank Rena

    Typical reults – major population centers have had a lower turn out, outlying areas very representative of Tricky Ricky who is really Out Lying have higher turnout. We all wait for a definitive moment perhaps when Romneys wins the popular vote and a majority of the delegates tonight we can start to move forward at least until Saturday when Tricky Ricky may win the LA primary and all the pundits start the cycle all over again

    March 20, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  4. sbssue1

    Go Romney, you are the only one to help this country at this point. You are a leader and can lead us out of this depressed situation we are in........

    March 20, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. Joe

    Imvoted this morning and the ballot was incredibly confusing. I've never voted in a Republican primary before but I wanted to vote for Paul. Man... You had to select delegates three different times in three different sections because you vote for the delegates not the candidates. Just another way for them to ensure Romney wins. I've never seen such an affront to Democracy.

    March 20, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. Bill

    Th low turnout could again hurt Romney. A real lack of enthusiam among GOP voters. And with an 80 degree day, I would bet voting is not at the top of most people's list of things to do. Should be an interesting night watching the returns.

    March 20, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Terry

    I voted for Dr. Ron Paul and his delegates in the 7th district.

    March 20, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. Dano

    $15 trillion in debt, 8% unemployment, and the most top heavy wealth distribution in modern history and for 1 out of 5 GOP voters, abortion is the most important issue for them this election... I really wish that other people's reproductive decisions were our biggest problem, I really do.

    March 20, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  9. Terry

    I think many people (including myself) voted weeks ago when Cook County Early Voting began on Feb 27. As someone who works downtown, it was very convenient to spend 5 minutes to vote during my lunch break.

    March 20, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. Terry

    ...which is why voter turnout may have been lighter than usual.

    March 20, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. Terry

    The GOP ballot was super-easy. The name of the candidate was next to the name of each delegate.

    March 20, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  12. Robert

    You would think Bill Gates or someone would be able to come up with a way for folks to vote from home over the internet (if they have it). If not, then local polling places could handle the rest. Participation would be far higher if they did so. If they can run secure browsers to handle credit card transactions, then they could certainly do this.

    March 20, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  13. Scef

    Frank Rena

    That has to be the best line that I heard this election cycle.

    March 20, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. JBarrot

    I am sick of CNN calling everything south of Chicago IL rural. There are major population areas that have GOP and Independent voters. These areas have major University's...Bloomington-Normal is home to the Headquarters of State Farm and Illinois State University. Champaign IL is home to the University of IL. Springfield IL is the State Capitol and the government employs thousands of employees and many headquaters of companys are station in Springfield IL. Get over Chicago and give downstate IL some credit for diversity CNN!

    March 20, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  15. T'sah From Virginia

    I'll be back later – Too Early – Not too Close to Call!!

    March 20, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  16. hanna

    i cant believe mitt romney has gone this far. lol

    March 20, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. jeremy

    Is it just me or does Santorum sound like that kid who didn't get picked to play with the big boys in basketball? The one who cries and name calls for no reason at all just because he cant play the game. Romney is slaughtering him overall and Santorum just cant get over that.

    March 20, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  18. alex

    Why isn't CNN showing exit polls by age of voters?

    March 20, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. alex

    Can't believe people vote for Santorum. One type of religious fanatic is just as dangerous as any other. Doesn't matter which religion you preach.

    March 20, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  20. NameRoy

    It's a fix....!!!

    March 20, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. MaryAnn in IL

    Here in Northern IL I don't think anyone is excited about either candidate. We have the largest Chrysler plant which is doing exceptionally well, partially due to the auto bailout. They are running 3 full shifts. However, other than that we have the states highest unemployment. Neither candidate seems to care and both were here yesterday. Will be a Romney wom, largely because there is no real choice and he seems to be the lesser of two evils.

    March 20, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  22. Just Say No to Flipper

    Rmoney is the best elitist robot the GOBP owners can buy. Hardly an impressive victory when he outspent Santorum 7-1. This is pure 1% money politics, and Rmoney is who they want to ram down their voters' throats.

    March 20, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  23. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    Lets see how long it takes CNN to report voter turnout numbers compared to 2008.

    March 20, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  24. Chris Carson

    Is it me, or is Romney's ENTIRE background white voters? That's America in 2012?

    March 20, 2012 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  25. Brian T

    As an Independent, I just laugh. Romney is only winning in states that are Democratic. Like Romney had a chance in a zillion years to win in Illinois. This is a joke he cannot win Republican States. I would not vote for a Moderate Republican if Obama was the total worst person in the world. Prediction today, remember John McCain in 2008 a moderate also playing the conservative card like Romney. Obama has this in the bag and its funny. Well if Romney did get elected then the rich will get even richer and the poor will be so poor we might have to beg for food and water. Do not vote for Romney, either vote Obama or stay home. Romney is a liar!!!!

    March 20, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
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