According to an analysis that I conducted earlier this month, a path in which Mr. Santorum narrowly carried Illinois would still leave him considerably short of the benchmarks he needs to hit to win the plurality of delegates (winning a majority of delegates is almost out of the question at this point). To win a delegate plurality, Mr. Santorum would potentially need to win states like California, Maryland or Oregon where the demographics are even more challenging to him than they are in Illinois.
Howard Kurtz says unenthusiasm is Romney's friend:
It might be most accurate to say at this point that Romney wins by not losing. That is, while he generates limited enthusiasm for his candidacy, he has succeeded, though negative tactics, in taking down a series of surging challengers: Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Gingrich and, depending on the week, Santorum.
Relatedly, Eliza Shapiro points out that turnout was dismal:
Republicans in Chicago were not quite fired up and ready to go today. Election officials in the Windy City predicted that today will be the lowest turnout in the city's presidential primary history.
Chris Cillizza wonders when the race will finally end:
Romney remains the all-but-certain winner but without the ability — at least so far — to land the single knockout blow he needs to convincingly end this race. Illinois didn’t change that. But in defense of the Prairie State, it’s hard to see any state playing that role at this point in the process.
One dark note for Romney from the exit poll: Voters were given a choice between their candidate winning the primary, and the primary ending early. Sixty-six percent of voters preferred a drawn-out primary with their guy on top. Those voters split 40-40 between Romney and Santorum.
Electionate notes that Newt has tanked:
Gingrich seems to be doing worse *everywhere* in Illinois. It seems to me that Gingrich voters broke toward the candidate who led otherwise. Might help explain why Romney’s overperforming in the suburbs and Santorum’s overperforming in the south.
How much longer can Newt hold on? He already has as much campaign debt as cash on hand and the donations are drying up.
Jim Geraghty echoes:
What is Gingrich adding to the campaign at this point? Besides issuing statements that the frontrunner’s most recent victories shouldn’t really count or are somehow not legitimate?
(Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)