The fact that Newt Gingrich, who has done little to impress in this Republican primary, can afford to stay in the race tells you why Mitt Romney’s huge win in Illinois on Tuesday night actually means very little.

Gingrich, like all the major candidates, is supported by a super PAC and in February his received a $5.5 million infusion from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson has spent $16.5 million altogether on Gingrich, according to the Los Angeles Times. This means that Gingrich can remain in the race and stay noticeable, if not relevant, without going bankrupt. Recall that Hillary Clinton dropped out of the 2008 Democratic primary only after the Obama campaign agreed to help settle her debts, which included millions of dollars in loans that Clinton had given to her own campaign. Donations tend to dry up when a campaign becomes a lost cause, and in the pre-Citizens United world, a candidate who decided to gamble and press on often had to put his or her own money on the line.

Romney’s double-digit victory over Rick Santorum in Illinois changes nothing about the fundamentals of this race: Mitt Romney is almost certainly going to win the Republican nomination, but he’s not going to be rid of his challengers until the convention. They are the mascots of a few extremely wealthy people who continue to give money.

Next up on the GOP primary carousel: Louisiana and Missouri. Polls close on Saturday. — PZS

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig