‘Super Tuesday’ will soon give way to ‘Super Duper Tuesday,’ the day when the second most delegates will be awarded in the Presidential race, and Illinois’ delegates are more important than ever.
Voters in Illinois will be joined by primaries in the big states of Florida, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina (and for Republicans, the Northern Mariana Islands) on March 15th. And the results of last night’s ‘Super Tuesday’ will make Illinois that much more important for the following reasons:
1. Trump didn’t clean up on ‘Super Tuesday’.
Republican Donald Trump had the best ‘Super Tuesday’ of any candidate, Republican or Democrat.
He had the most votes of any candidate, and while he tied the number of states won with Democrat Hillary Clinton, Clinton’s opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders won more states and more delegates than any Trump challenger. Trump’s nearest opponent in the delegate count, Ted Cruz won three states, and lost some states to Trump conventional wisdom would suggest the more conservative Cruz should have won.
Still, sometimes a campaign is all about managing expectations, and the fact Trump didn’t win in Oklahoma or Alaska gives his opponents’ hope that his nomination is not inevitable.
Trump does not have an insurmountable lead in Illinois according to a recent Paul Simon Institute Public Policy Poll, and he could be vulnerable to someone like Sen. Marco Rubio.
Rubio needs to hold his home state of Florida, and then win somewhere else. Illinois offers his best opportunity, and he is already spending money in the state, including the Stateline area. Some conservative PACs have also come out with anti-Trump ads statewide as well.
2. Sanders has better odds in Illinois.
‘Super Tuesday’ was always going to be a tough day for Sanders because of the large percentage of African-American Clinton supporters in so many of the states.
Illinois has a large block of black voters as well, but it also has a higher percentage of liberal whites and other liberal minority groups than ‘Super Tuesday’ states such as Georgia or Alabama. If Sanders can woo them and pull an upset in Illinois, his campaign gets a big unexpected shot in the arm and a large block of delegates.
Sanders has already set up a campaign office in Rockford, and has a well funded campaign overall, so he can afford to make a strong push in Illinois.
It’s a longshot, but Sanders has faced long odds since he announced his candidacy, and in some cases beaten them.
3. Clinton cannot afford to lose Illinois.
Hillary Clinton must take care not to take Illinois for granted just because of her roots here.
Sanders has remained competitive with Clinton in part because of poor turnout at Democratic primaries and caucuses. His younger, more enthused voters have come to the polls in higher numbers than Clinton voters have so far in competitive states.
Illinois has a history of lower turnout in primary and non-Presidential year elections, and Clinton cannot afford to let that happen again.