Politico Arena topic: Does Romney's Win Make the Nomination Clearer?
Mitt Romney’s win certainly helped boost his chances of securing the GOP nomination. Illinois represents his first convincing victory in a large industrial state—the kind of battleground state Romney would need to win in a general election matchup against President Barack Obama (though Obama should be able to carry Illinois easily in November). But underneath the veneer of his Illinois win rests some continuing trouble signs. According to exit polls, Romney lost the white evangelical vote once again to Rick Santorum. Evangelicals compose much of the Republican Party’s base across the United States—a base Romney must turnout in droves in November if he is to defeat Barack Obama, especially in battleground states like Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia. But evangelicals have yet to embrace him. Romney also lost among protestants who attend church weekly, those that maintain that the religious beliefs of the candidates matter a great deal, those who said they were looking for a true conservative, and those that said they wanted someone with strong moral character.
Is this enough to sink Romney’s nomination campaign? That’s not likely at this point as his superior organization and deep pockets give him an advantage in the delegate count in what has become a nomination season marathon. However, in the general election, a party’s nominee has to motivate the base and it is not clear whether the GOP base will be motivated by a guy that they don’t view as a true conservative. A certain percentage of those base voters, though they are unlikey to cast their ballots for Obama, may stay home on election night—a situation Romney could not afford in so many of the swing states he would need to carry.
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