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As expected.  Fox News and other news outlets were able to project Mitt Romney the winner of the Illinois Primary early.

Early returns show Romney leading with 56 percent in Illinois, followed by Santorum with 27 percent. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are battling for third place.

It is still unclear how the candidates will split up the delegates since all of the votes are not in.  The next contest is the Louisiana Primary this Saturday.  According to RealClearPolitics.com Santorum holds an advantage there with an average lead of 8.5% in the last two polls conducted there.

Looking at the Google Illinois Primary heat map with 35.7% of precincts reporting you can see that this is playing out as expected.  Romney is doing well in the Chicago area.  Santorum is strong downstate, but not strong enough.

Update: Newt Gingrich offers a statement.

To defeat Barack Obama, Republicans can’t nominate a candidate who relies on outspending his opponents 7-1.  Instead, we need a nominee who offers powerful solutions that hold the president accountable for his failures.  Over the past few weeks, my $2.50 gas plan has shown how America could have cheaper gas, more jobs and greater national security while putting the White House on the defense over their anti-American energy policies.  This is the type of leadership I can offer as the nominee, and this campaign will spend between now and when the delegates vote in Tampa relentlessly taking the fight to President Obama to make this case.

2nd Update: In case you haven’t seen the final  numbers tightened considerably since it was first called.  Santorum led Romney nearly 2 to 1 in downstate Illinois.

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