"Wheee! My Daddy issues are about to be resolved!" (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Public Policy Polling (PDF
). March 17-18. Illinois likely Republican primary voters. ±4.4%. No trend.
According to the survey, Mitt Romney's lead in Illinois is solid. Not only is he enjoying a double-digit lead over Rick Santorum and closing in on an outright majority, if Newt Gingrich were to drop out, Romney would still hold an 11-point lead. So there won't be much drama in Illinois tomorrow night, barring an act of God.
Romney also has a 2-point lead in rural areas. That's notable because Illinois allocates its delegates by congressional districts, with the winner of each district taking three delegates. If Santorum is unable to close that gap, he might get shut out completely, giving Romney a huge delegate pickup opportunity.
Of course, if Santorum is unable to beat Mitt Romney in the popular vote in places like Illinois, the delegate math won't make a difference to Santorum's chances of winning the nomination because unless he wins the popular vote over the second half, he will have no claim to the nomination. Nonetheless, the more delegates Romney picks up, the better his chances of securing the nomination through voting and the less likely it is that he'll be forced to do a deal with Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, or Newt Gingrich in order to get over the top.
Although Rick Santorum is still campaigning in Illinois today, he'll hold his primary party tomorrow night in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, no doubt reflecting his pessimism about Illinois and aiming to focus attention on his home state's April 24 primary. Newt Gingrich isn't campaigning at all and Ron Paul also isn't on the trail.