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Romney Wins Illinois Primary

Romney Wins Illinois Primary

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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney clinched the state of Illinois on Tuesday, beating Rick Santorum decisively in one step of the long-drawn battle toward the party's nomination this summer.

With three-quarters of precincts reporting, 47% of Illinois Republicans chose former Massachusetts governor Romney, while 35% chose former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. Nine percent of voters selected Rep. Ron Paul, and 8% voted for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told CNN that he won among Catholics as well as Tea Party voters. Meanwhile, Santorum continued his win streak with born-again and Evangelical Christians, beating Romney among that group by 46% to 39%. But less than 50% of Illinois voters identified as either born-again or Evangelical and that has been where Santorum's strength has remained, with him unable to make headway with other constituencies.

Santorum led among those who consider themselves "very conservative." But, according to the New York Times, exit polls show that Illinois Republicans are not as strongly conservative or evangelical as GOPers in Southern states such as Alabama and Mississippi, which both handed wins to Santorum. About one in four Illinois Republicans identify as "very conservative" versus 35% in Alabama and 42% in Mississippi. The electorate is anticipated to be more favorable to Santorum in this weekend's primary in Louisiana. And then he's counting on wins in his home state and other big delegate states in April.

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