Five reasons why Trump won Illinois

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shades his eyes as he looks at demonstrators in the crowd during an election rally.

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shades his eyes as he looks at demonstrators in the crowd during an election rally. Associated Press File Photo

Updated 3/16/2016 12:52 AM

Republican Donald Trump claimed a big victory in Illinois Tuesday, helping to sweep him closer to winning enough delegates nationwide to claim the GOP nomination for president.

Here's how he did it.


The split

Trump faced a divided field of challengers that hadn't consolidated behind one candidate to take him on.

He picked up about 39 percent of the vote in unofficial totals late Tuesday in Illinois. His closest competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, had 31 percent.

Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio combined to win 59 percent, nearly 20 points more than Trump.

Rubio dropped from the race before Illinois totals began coming in because it was clear he had lost his home state of Florida to Trump.

The rally

Trump's rally misfire Friday in Chicago might have energized his supporters, many of whom stormed angrily out of the UIC Pavilion after protesters created enough disruption to cancel the event.

"Smart voters can see that he's the only one standing up to these thugs," Trump supporter Doug Ibendahl said Tuesday night.

The big names

Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider stayed out of the race, leaving their political influence on the sidelines as other party leaders lined up behind different candidates.

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U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, stayed out of the primary, too.


Candidates often try to claim to be the outsider candidate in an election to appeal to voters tired of politics. Two years ago, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner made it a hallmark of his campaign.

Trump has taken the idea to a new extreme and exit polls showed nearly 9 in 10 GOP voters Tuesday were "dissatisfied" or "angry" with the federal government.

Standing in line for the Friday Trump rally in Chicago that was eventually called off, supporter Mary Nueve of West Dundee summed it up.

"The ones that remain, they're politicians," she said. "I've never done anything like this."

The delegates

Trump's victory gives him 15 committed delegates toward the summer nominating convention, helping to bolster a lead that has become tough to surmount for his rivals, particularly Kasich, who still trails Cruz in the count nationwide.

In addition, Trump will win many of the state's 54 delegates that are divvied up by congressional district, but it wasn't immediately clear late Tuesday what the final tally will be.

• The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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