CARBONDALE - A visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute on SIU’s Carbondale campus, says in a recent paper that Mitt Romney’s primary victory in Illinois was typical of most Republican primary victories, although future candidates could also learn a lesson from Rick Santorum’s defeat.
The paper, “The Illinois Presidential Primary: How Romney Won and What it Meant,” was the 32nd Simon Review paper and was written by long-time political science professor John Jackson. It explored Illinois’ Republican presidential primary, which took place in March.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, won Illinois’ primary with 46.7 percent of the vote, on the way to claiming the Republican presidential nomination. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, finished second with 35 perent, although he won a majority of the state’s counties, including all of them in Southern Illinois. Only two other candidates gained more than 5 percent — Texas Congressman Ron Paul with 9.3 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 7.9.
“Illinois provided an important victory for Mitt Romney. All of his strengths were on display here and his strategic advantages paid handsome dividends,” Jackson wrote.
Among those strengths were Romney’s endorsements, as most of the state’s prominent Republicans endorsed him. Romney also spend significantly more money on television ads than Santorum and other challengers.
But there were other advantages, as well.
“Romney had all the earmarks of the kind of candidate who typically wins in Illinois and who traditionally wins the Republican nomination,” Jackson wrote. “The GOP almost always nominates a candidate who has run before. … Romney was clearly the party organizational leadership’s choice, and he enjoyed their prominent support in Illinois.”
Santorum, however, could have won the state with a stronger, more cohesive effort in Illinois, Jackson said. Before Illinois, he had gained ground and momentum in the Republican race. Had Santorum won in Illinois, Jackson said, it could have given him a significant boost and made the race even closer, Jackson said.
“In the fall of 2011, Santorum’s campaign planners and staff … had largely overlooked Illinois and its potentially pivotal place in the calendar, and thus they did not get to Illinois and recruit delegate candidates nearly early enough and they did not allocate resources to the effort here,” Jackson wrote.
“… Early and extensive organization, planning and access to early money spells the difference between being crowned the party’s winner in the national convention, and potentially in November, and the host of also-rans who crowd the pages of campaign history.”
Source: The Southern