All eyes are on Illinois today. Well, at least theeyes that care about the train-wreck that theRepublican primary has been so far, and which oneof the candidates will wind up in a pile-up thistime. So, here's a race fan's guide to what couldhappen, and what it means.
1. A Mitt Romney win. Well,duh! Polls show him leading by as much as 15percentage points going into the primary. Andvoter-heavy Chicago and the surrounding countiesare full of exactly the kind of rich Republicanswho've favored Millionaire Mitt and his fiscallyconservative and more tax breaks for the wealthymessage. If Romney loses this one, he's got muchmore trouble than he's been willing to even hintat - and everybody is going to know it.
2. A Rick Santorum win. IfSantorum somehow pulls off a victory in Illinoisit can only be because the rural Republicansturned out in unexpectedly high numbers. They'rethe kind of socially conservative voters andevangelicals who've boosted the kid fromPennsylvania in Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama andother states where he's had good showings. Itcould also spell long-term trouble forMassachusetts Mitt because it could be a sign thatthe hard-core conservative base is energized andwilling to fight to prove they want a "trueconservative" like Santorum to represent them.
3. A Romney loss. Yeah,there's more to be said about how stunninglyimportant this would be. The Republican nominationrace has been a historically unpredictable cagefight, and it's been nearly impossible for Romneyto gain any kind of true momentum. Once again, hiscampaign and the super PAC backing him have beendropping enough money into negative ads againstSantorum to float a small country. The latestestimates are they've spent some $3.7 million,close to seven times more than Santorum and hisPAC. With that kind of weaponry, he'd better win.If he doesn't, then every bookie in Vegas will begiving even odds that the race won't be settleduntil they hit the national convention in August.
4. A Newt Gingrich win.C'mon. Get serious.
5. A Ron Paul win. Hahahaha!How? Did everyone else drop out?