Here we go again - another Tuesday, another "must-win" primary state for Mitt Romney.
Fifty-four delegates are up for grabs Tuesday when Illinois votes for the Republican presidential nominee. But for the former Massachusetts governor, capturing the popular vote might be just as important as increasing his lead in the battle for delegates.
"Romney could really use a romp in Illinois. It wouldn't put him over the top, but it would put him back on track with a head of steam," said CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
After finishing third last Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi to his main rival for the nomination, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Romney regained a bit of momentum on Sunday when he trounced Santorum in Puerto Rico's primary, getting 83% of the vote and picking up all 20 delegates up for grabs.
Now comes Illinois, with a large, somewhat moderate GOP electorate, thanks to the large number of voters in metropolitan Chicago. Call Illinois the new Michigan, or the new Ohio - the last two "must-win" states.
Back on February 28, pundits said Romney had to win Michigan, the state where he grew up and where his father was governor. He did.
A week later, on Super Tuesday, political analysts and strategists said Romney had to win the crucial battleground state of Ohio. Again, he did, narrowly edging out Santorum.FULL STORY