-By Warner Todd Huston
If you're looking for some expert commentary on the Illinois primaries, Fox Business Network will be providing up-to-the-minute coverage tonight anchored by the inimitable Neil Cavuto. The coverage will kick off at 7PM and will feature Jeff Flock here on the ground in Chicago.
FBN’s Neil Cavuto has been covering the primaries quite extensively. Cavuto has even chided his rival cablers for practically ignoring the primaries, saying that he has been surprised at how "competitors drop the ball" on their coverage. He feels viewers deserve more.
I see rival networks giving a perfunctory, ‘So and so won this primary,’ and then they’re back to a Teflon commercial, or they’re running a seven-year-old special, and I think I owe my viewers more. I think that they deserve more. People are into this. And we as a financial network owe it to (our viewers to) be into this ourselves.
For his part, reporter Jeff Flock provided some of his analysis on the GOP filed from which Illinois will choose this primary election day.
"If you are a deficit hawk there is not much difference between the three front runners. Romney, Santorum and Gingrich all push lower taxes, spending cuts and changes to the Social Security and Medicare programs," Flock said. "All would, by most economist's measures, add trillions to the deficit over the next decade. Only Ron Paul's plan would cut the deficit over time."
Flock says that Romney will appeal quite a lot to the business class.
If business acumen is what you seek, it's hard to make a case against Romney with his service turning companies around at Bain Capital. If you believe manufacturing is the backbone of the economy, Rick Santorum wants specific incentives for that sector. If you feel that overseas involvements have been the real economic budget buster, Ron Paul is the obvious choice as he would bring troops home and cut spending there. All four have criticized the hikes in personal and corporate tax rates in Illinois. Romney's economic plans seems to strike the best balance between spending cuts and modified tax policy. If the economy is your number one issue, it's hard to make a case that the former CEO, governor and president of an enormously successful US Winter Olympics is not the most qualified of the field.
As I discussed on Monday, Illinois has a different sort of primary election. Here we vote for the "beauty contest," the fellows at the top of the ticket, but we also directly elect the candidate's delegates to the convention. So, when you vote for the one candidate you want to be our nominee, you also have to go down ballot and vote for his delegates.
As I noted, Flock also notes; Rick Santorum has a problem.
But a vote for the candidates doesn't guarantee they get any closer to the nomination. You must vote for a Romney delegate if you want Romney to actually get a vote at the Tampa convention. Rick Santorum is on the ballot but has not fielded a full slate of delegates, so even if he wins the beauty contest or gets more votes in a particular district his voters may not be able to actually get to vote for one of his delegates.
Flock notes that if you live in Illinois Congressional Districts 4, 5, 7 or 13 and you are a non-Romney voter, you may have to get creative.
Only in Illinois is it possible to vote for one candidate in the popular vote and then vote for delegates of another. For example, to most help Santorum: cast a ballot for him in the popular vote and then pick Gingrich delegates. That would serve to deny Romney delegates while still expressing your preference for Santorum. Yes, it is legal.
And what are the possible outcomes Flock sees?
Be prepared for multiple winners. If Romney gets more delegates he is sure to claim victory. But if Santorum wins or even gets close in the popular vote he'll continue to make the point that Romney may have the money and the organization, but not the power to inspire.
Be sure and tune into Fox Business Network tonight starting at 7PM for your Illinois Primary coverage.