Romney’s Win in Illinois Not Enough to Shake Up GOP Race

BY Dante Chinni  March 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM EST

Mitt Romney; photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Mitt Romney addresses supporters during his Illinois primary victory party. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Updated with new map at 2:56 p.m. | Mitt Romney won big in Illinois — double digits. He claimed the breakout victory many analysts thought he needed and he urged Republican voters to come on board for his nomination. “Each day we move closer not just to victory but to a better America,” the former Massachusetts governor told the crowd. “Join us!”

A 12-point win is always nice, and the delegates Romney collected Tuesday night add to his already impressive margin, but as impressive as the numbers looked, in reality his Illinois triumph was something of an “ehh” moment.

As we noted Tuesday, Illinois may look diverse on a map (10 of Patchwork Nation‘s 12 county types are present in the state), but when you look at the population counts, the state was made for Romney. Some 81 percent of the state’s population lives in the four county types that have been the best for Romney in the nominating contests: the Industrial Metropolises, Monied Burbs, Boom Towns, and Campus and Careers counties.

Romney has won the overall vote in those county types in 2012′s nominating contests, and he won them all in Illinois — they are in gray, beige, rust and dark green respectively on the map below.

Editor’s note: The map above shows a tie in the Service Worker Centers, but that is coming from a bad data point that we are fixing. Santorum won the Service Workers by 9 percentage points.

But former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won all the other county types in Illinois in Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown.

And it wasn’t simply an upstate/downstate divide. Romney won an Industrial Metropolis county (St. Clair) and Campus and Career counties (Champaign, McLean, Peoria, Sangamon) in the downstate region of Illinois. And that was even amid Emptying Nest and Service Worker Center counties that Santorum won (Ford, Marshall, Bureau, Knox, Fulton).

The point: Romney’s victory in Illinois is less a triumph showing the GOP coming together behind a single force than it is about showing the socio-demographics and geography of Illinois were simply better suited to him.

Is Romney closer to the nomination today than he was on Monday? Most certainly. But the great GOP “come together” moment remains elusive.