For Barack Obama, the question in Illinois was never if he was going to win, but by how much.
The state gave its adopted son his expected victory in its primary Tuesday.
Obama ended up winning 13 states overall, including Illinois, out of the 22 states up for grabs Tuesday night. Sen. Hillary Clinton took eight states with New Mexico still undecided as of Wednesday morning. Clinton holds a narrow lead in delegates, the real numbers that will decide who’s the next Democratic nominee. As of Wednesday, Clinton has anywhere from 800-840 delegates, and Obama has between 740 and 760 delegates, where 2025 are needed to secure the nomination.
Even with Illinois’ victory expected well before the polls closed, the excitement around Obama’s victory celebration at the Hyatt Regency downtown Tuesday was palpable.
Former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris was in attendance for two simple reasons. First, he is a delegate for Obama and second because, “I got to be part of the victory,” he said.
Elliott Harstein, village president of Buffalo Grove, was in Iowa for Obama’s caucus win there and felt he was witnessing history. “[Tonight] is another chapter unfolding in that history,” he said Tuesday at the Hyatt.
Obama, a former Illinois state senator, proved the state has embraced him as their own. Garnering endorsements from local heavyweights like Oprah Winfrey and Mayor Richard M. Daley, the U.S. Senator from Illinois never looked back in a race he surely counted on from the beginning.
And there was only one thing the Clinton camp knew for sure: Hillary Clinton would not win her birth state.
“We did our best to stress him out and we did our best to make him work,” said Kevin O’Keefe, head of the Illinois campaign for Hillary.
As Obama’s Illinois win was confirmed, Clinton supporters went about their food and drinks at the Clinton primary party at Junior’s Sports Lounge on Maxwell and Halsted Streets.
Excitement among Clinton supporters peaked when they found out that she had won 61 percent of the Hispanic vote nationally and 48 percent in Illinois.
Ald. Danny Solis (25th) has known both candidates for some time, saying “With the way the world is today, it’s a different world in terms of security and the economy, and for that I pick Hillary.”
The Illinois primary was just one of 22 primaries and caucuses for the Democrats with 1,681 delegates in play Tuesday. There were 153 delegates at stake in Illinois, a small number in comparison to California’s 370 or New York’s 232. Clinton won both states but split delegates with Obama.
All three states also have super-delegates, whose support was not on the line Tuesday.
A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll conducted last week showed Obama with a greater than 2-1 advantage over Clinton. The poll had Obama receiving 55 percent of the vote and Clinton just 24 percent. That’s a swing of 6 percent since a similar poll showed Obama with 50 percent and Clinton with 25 percent in mid-December.