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Poll: Romney has work to do ahead of Illinois GOP primary

March 11, 2012|By Rick Pearson | Chicago Tribune

When voters were asked to name the issue they cared most about, 38% listed the nation's economy. Another 33% of voters cited a too large and too powerful federal government. Seventeen percent said the federal budget deficit was their top issue, while 9% said abortion was.

Almost half of Gingrich voters cited economic concerns as their priority, ahead of the 44% of Romney supporters. About one-third of Romney and Santorum voters said the size and power of the federal government was their top issue.

The Republican presidential contest has been unsettled so far, but in Illinois, 72% said they were satisfied with the field of contenders, compared with 26% who weren't satisfied.

Romney voters were the most satisfied at 82%, while Paul backers were the least satisfied with their options, at 44%.

Although the poll measured the preferences of Republican voters statewide, the real battle in Illinois is for the 54 national nominating convention delegates who will be directly elected by voters from among the state's 18 congressional districts.

In many previous primaries, convention delegates were awarded proportionally based on the popular vote in the state or in congressional districts. That's not the case in Illinois.

Votes in the state's Republican primary cast a preference vote for president, but it is known as a "beauty contest" with no delegates awarded. Instead, voters will see on their ballot local candidates running for convention delegate with a presidential preference listed in parentheses.

That puts Santorum at a disadvantage because his Illinois campaign team did not file a full slate of delegates, unlike his three competitors. Santorum is 10 delgates short, including in the new 5th Congressional District that features Republican strongholds such as Oak Brook and Hinsdale, and the Downstate 13th District.

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