Chicago Suburbs Key in Illinois Republican Primaries

Photograph by John Gress/Getty Images

Voting in the state primary at a laundromat on March 20, 2010 in Chicago.

For Democrats seeking statewide office in Illinois, any winning campaign strategy must include Chicago. In Republican primaries, it’s all about Chicago’s suburbs.

The share of Cook County outside Chicago, plus the five “collar” counties that abut Cook, probably will account for about 50 percent of all votes cast in today’s Republican primary.

Those territories cast 47.7 percent of the 899,422 votes in the 2008 Republican primary for president and 48.6 percent of the 767,485 votes in the 2010 Republican primary for governor.

Chicago cast just 43,061 votes in the 2008 Republican primary, or 4.8 percent of the statewide vote. In the Democratic primary, Chicago cast 31.1 percent of the vote.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney should run strongly in suburban Cook and the collar counties — DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will. Romney has thrived in winning votes of upper-income residents in large metropolitan areas.

Former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania should be stronger in rural counties outside of Chicago’s orbit.

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