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Romney wins Ill., increases delegate lead

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum once again won self-identified evangelical and born-again Christians during Tuesday’s Illinois primary, but Mitt Romney did well enough among that constituency and others to win the state easily and capture most of the delegates.

Santorum won 46 percent of evangelical and born-again Republican voters, with Romney capturing 39 percent, Newt Gingrich 9 percent and Ron Paul 6 percent, according to a New York Times exit poll. Unlike exit polls used by some other media outlets, the Times’ exit poll includes evangelicals of all races. Evangelicals and born-again Christians comprised 43 percent of Illinois GOP voters.

Romney more than offset his loss among evangelicals by easily winning Catholics, 53 percent to Santorum’s 30 percent. Catholics were 35 percent of Republican voters.

Overall, Romney won 46.7 percent of the vote to Santorum’s 35 percent, Paul’s 9.3 percent and Gingrich’s 8 percent. That helped Romney pad his delegate lead, capturing 43 delegates to Santorum’s 10. With 1,144 delegates needed to capture the nomination, Romney has 563 delegates, Santorum 263, Gingrich 135 and Paul 50, according to a New York Times count.

Santorum has won the vote of evangelicals in most states where exit poll were conducted, although Romney has finished a solid second or third much of the time.

The race now moves to Louisiana, where there will be a primary Saturday and to the District of Columbia, Maryland and Wisconsin, all of which will host primaries April 3.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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