Mitt Romney won the Illinois primary; defeating Rick Santorum by 12 points in a key Midwest state and effectively ending Republican primary.
Political pundits declared the race for the nomination "over". Time Magazine echoed the sentiment with the headline: “Romney’s Illinois Win Signals an End to the GOP Primary.”
Even the victorious candidate implied that the nomination was his. In his post primary victory speech Romney focused his remarks on defeating the President; confident that further attacks on his Republican opponents were no longer necessary.
Or is it?
While it is true that no one but Romney can secure the 1,144 required delegates before the convention; it is by no means certain that Romney can either.
On Saturday voters will go to the polls in Louisiana; a state Santorum is heavily favored to win. Two weeks later the campaigns will move to Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania. And then another key Midwestern state, Wisconsin, where Santorum is expected to do well, will hold its primary on April 24th. With wins in ten states under his belt, a pocket full of cash and the prospect of more victories on the horizon, there is no incentive for Santorum step aside. As long as Santorum can keep Romney from reaching 1,144 before the convention he has as good a chance to win the nomination as anyone. For if no one secures the nomination before the convention; all bets are off.
Today the pundits are anointing Romney the victor. If Santorum wins Louisiana on Saturday, they’ll be singing a different tune.
While the ultimate Republican nominee remains in question, this much is certain. The Republican Party has a historic opportunity. Given the state of the economy, the high unemployment rate, the price of gasoline and the President’s difficulties with his base and major donors; the Republicans have the opportunity to win the White House, win the Senate, maintain control of the House and secure the Supreme Court for decades.
Yet here they stand tearing each other to shreds to nominate a guy that politically none of them really likes.