Analyzing the 2010 Midterm Elections – the Illinois Senate Election

This is a part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. This post will focus on the Illinois Senate election, in which Republican candidate Mark Kirk pulled out a close Republican victory in a strongly Democratic state.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Illinois’s Senatorial Election

Link to Map of Illinois, 2010 Senate Election

Senator Mark Kirk’s victory follows the contours of a previous post, titled Previewing Senate Elections: Illinois. This post argued:

So what does Mr. Kirk have to do? Say that he gets 35% of the vote in Cook County – propelled by inner-ring suburban strength and minority apathy – and wins a landslide everywhere else in the state (for instance, a 3:2 margin). This gives him 50.3% of the vote in the 2008 Illinois electorate. If white Republicans downstate turn out, and minorities in Chicago do not, Mr. Kirk may get bumped up to a 2-3% victory.

As it turns out, this is almost exactly what actually happened in the election.

The previous analysis divided Illinois into three sections: Chicago, the suburbs of Chicago, and downstate Illinois. Let’s take a look at what Mr. Kirk did in each part of Illinois.

Chicago

Illinois is generally a Democratic stronghold. Cook County, home to the city of Chicago, composes more than 40% of the state’s population, and Democrats always win by a landslide in the county. Republicans have to stretch themselves to the limit everywhere else in the state – winning even the areas that normally vote Democratic – to get close.

But Republicans also must dampen Democratic margins in Cook County. This happens if Republicans can do well in the parts of Cook County outside Chicago, which are whiter and more conservative. In the city of Chicago itself, most voters are so Democratic that they will prefer not voting to casting the ballot for a Republican. There, low turn-out is more important for Republicans than actually winning over voters.

In 2010, Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias won 64.3% of the vote in Cook County.

At first glance, this sounds quite good. Winning 64.3% of the vote is nothing to sniff at. No president has ever won that much of the popular vote in history.

But Senator John Kerry won 70.2% of the vote in Cook County. And President Barack Obama took 76.2% of the vote. In modern Illinois politics, a Democratic candidate who takes only 64.3% of the vote in Cook County is in deep trouble.

Chicago’s Suburbs

“Previewing Senate Elections, Illinois” stated that:

The true test of Mark Kirk’s candidacy will come in the Chicago suburbs…

He will not just have to win the suburbs, but turn the clock back two decades – back to the glory years in which Republicans won around 70% of the vote in DuPage County. (Mr. Kirk will probably not have to do that well, given rising Republican strength downstate.)

Is this doable? Given that Republicans seem to be winning suburbs everywhere this year, it is certainly possible. Mr. Kirk, moreover, has spent a decade representing a Chicago suburb congressional district; this is why Republicans have nominated him.

As it turned out, Mr. Kirk passed the test with flying colors. His moderate image and suburban origin led to double-digit victories in every one of the collar counties surrounding Cook County.

In the past, Republicans have won Illinois through massive support in the Chicago’s suburbs to offset the Democratic advantage in Chicago itself. Mr. Kirk was able to somewhat replicate this model in 2010:

Link to Table Comparing Dupage and Cook County Margins

This strength did not extend to all Republicans. Republican candidate Bill Brady, for instance, still won the Chicago suburbs. But his margins were just the slightest bit off – a high single-digit rather than double-digit victory here; a 15-point rather than 20-point margin there – and ultimately this led to Mr. Brady’s defeat.

Downstate Illinois

Imagine that the year is 1990, and Republican Mark Kirk pulls the exact same numbers in the Chicago metropolis.

Most analysts in that year would say that Mr. Kirk is on his way to a sure loss – after all, Democrats are quite competitive in downstate Illinois, and Mr. Kirk just hasn’t squeezed enough juice from the collar counties.

Today, however, downstate Illinois has trended firmly Republican. Without this trend Mr. Kirk would not have won.

Here is an illustration of Illinois in the 1992 presidential election:

Link to Map of Illinois, 1992 Presidential Election

President Bill Clinton is doing quite well, winning almost every single county downstate – many by double-digits. Compare this to President Barack Obama’s performance:

Link to Map of Illinois, 2008 Presidential Election

Mr. Obama is actually doing much better in Illinois than Mr. Clinton, and yet he loses a number of the downstate counties Mr. Clinton won.

This illustrates the shift in downstate Illinois to the Republican side, and in 2010 Mr. Kirk took full advantage of that trend to win re-election.

Conclusions

The post “Previewing Senate Elections: Illinois” concluded by mapping, somewhat light-heartedly, a hypothetical Republican victory:

Link to Map of Hypothetical Republican Victory in Illinois

Mr. Kirk’s victory ended up looking extremely similar:

Link to Map of Actual Republican Victory in Illinois

All in all, it is always exciting to see a Republican victory in a Democratic stronghold, or a Democratic victory in a Republican stronghold. Mr. Kirk’s victory is the first time a Republican has won Illinois in quite a while. It constitutes one of the Republican Party’s greatest triumphs in the 2010 midterm elections.

--Inoljt

 

Where is the Coverage for the Contentious Races?

(cross posted from MyFDL)

Christine O'Donnell isn't a witch, she's one of us.  That's great but she is currently trailing Chris Coons by an average 17 points. Carl Paladino enjoys e-mailing bestiality videos with a horse and a women to his friends.  Thats all well and good but Paladino is the only one getting plowed, in the polls.  Andrew Cuomo leads Paladino by a monstrous average of 27 points.  

These two races are some of the least contentious in the country (if you consider how many races are exponentially closer than these two).  Its understandable that the Carl Paladino e-mails and Christine O'Donnell's constant gaffes make good television and provide decent entertainment, but why can't we get decent coverage on races that are actually up in the air?

Its disappointing to see the lack of coverage in races that have a lot at stake.  For example, look at the senate election heating up in Wisconsin.  Russ Feingold (D-WI) has been in office for 17 years and is looking to lose his seat to a little-known businessman, Ron Johnson.  Feingold should have had a safe seat, but due to the growing discourse among Democrats this season, a good Democrat could face an early end to his Senate career.  

One of the most exciting, and one that could define this election cycle, is the Illinois Senate race.  Barack Obama's Senate seat is up for grabs and this time its not being sold by Rod Blagojevich!  Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D-IL) is running a close race against Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL).  Both candidates have a lot of baggage that has crippled them in their campaigns to an extent.  Giannoulias has been in hot water due to allegations of shady banking operations with his family bank, Broadway Bank.

*Giannoulias was pressed by Gregory over what he know about loans made to organized crime figures by the Giannoulias family owned Broadway Bank when he was a loan officer. Kirk has made those loans by the bank--which failed in April--a centerpiece of his campaign.

Asked if he knew that there were crime figures the bank was loaning money to, Giannoulias said "We did not know the extent of that activity," and when asked again, said "I did not know the extent of their activity."

(Source: Chicago Sun-Times Blog)

Rep. Kirk has also seen his fair share of controversy during this campaign, regarding his military service record.  Kirk claimed to receive the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award, when in fact he didn't.

But Kirk first drew scrutiny when he claimed he was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year. It turns out he didn't win that award. Rather, in 2000, the National Military Intelligence Association awarded the intelligence unit led by Kirk the Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Navy Reserve Intelligence Award, which honors exceptional achievement by outstanding intelligence professionals. And Kirk was tapped to physically accept the award at the National Military Intelligence Association’s annual awards banquet.

Kirk has since acknowledged that he incorrectly referred to himself as the "Intelligence Officer of the Year."

"Most importantly, I wasn't thinking," Kirk said in a press conference. "This was a carelessness that did not reflect well upon me."

(Source:  Politifact)

Again, another great race overshadowed by the stupidity of people like O'Donnell and Paladino.

 

Another great race, and one near and dear to me, seeing very little coverage is the West Virginia senate race.  This is a special election, and the term being fought for is only to finish Byrd's term (2 years; 2012).  John Raese, probably one of the most divisive Tea-Party candidates in this election season, has barely seen the light of day among the media with the bat-shit crazy likes of Christine O'Donnell hogging the coverage.

With a week left before election day, Joe Manchin III has expanded his lead over Republican candidate and Tea Party backed John Raese.  The West Virginia Senate race has seen a shift in support recently to Raese, as Joe Manchin has been painted off as a "rubber-stamp for Barack Obama."   Manchin, of course, was quick to fight back with his opposition to the Cap and Trade Bill as well as his adoption of the term "Obamacare."

Recent reports from Watchdog.org show that Manchin has outraised Millionaire Plutocrat John Raese by a significant margin, and polls are starting to lead towards Manchin's way once again.

With just over one week until West Virginia voters pick the successor to Sen. Robert C. Byrd, and Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democratic candidate, is bringing in more campaign contributions than Republican opponent John Raese.

According to Federal Election Commission campaign disclosure reports, Manchin brought in $2.8 million in donations between the beginning of August and the end of September. Raese, on the other hand, brought in $1.9 million; nearly a million less than Manchin.

It is important to note that of the $1.9 Million Raese has raised, $1.42 has come from his own pocket.  Raese's personal financing of his senate bid may end up netting him losses given the current polling trend.

Manchin, as it is also worth mentioning, receives heavy endorsements from coal and energy firms such as X-Coal Energy Resources, Patriot Coal, Kanawha Eagle Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, etc.  It is clear who big coal endorses in this race.  That doesn't stop Raese though, who is the owner of Greer Industries (which operates one of the biggest limestone producers in West Virginia).

Raese has built his campaign's foundation on his opposition to President Obama.  His most well-known ad features him trolling the streets while proclaiming "I won't be a rubber-stamp for Barack Obama."  This has sat well with West Virginia voters given their opposition towards President Obama.

What has been peculiar is the tightness of this race.  Joe Manchin, for the most part, has seen a very high approval rating for himself (averaging at about 70% for his stint as Governor).  So why is he having so much trouble?  The D next to his name.  Voters in West Virginia are increasingly apprehensive to vote for a Democratic, which most can assume is attributed to Barack Obama's Presidency.  Voters in the Mountain State generally aren't supporting the President's policies, and they see electing another Democrat as an endorsement of these policies.

This is why Manchin has been quick to distance himself from the President, much to the same tune as other Democrats across the country are as they fight for their respected seats.

The latest PPP poll shows Manchin 6 point lead heading into the week before election Tuesday.  That, on top of a +10 margin produced from a Marshall University poll last week, has put him slightly ahead of Raese.

Personally, we need a blug dog Democrat more than we need a Tea Party Patriot representing West Virginia in the Senate.  A vote for John Raese is a vote endorsing the former regressive policies of the Bush Administration, eliminating the departments of education and energy, and a slew of other extremely right-wing policies.  A man who lives in Florida and Colorado, in addition to West Virginia, and received an endorsement from Former-Governor Sarah Palin for his race in Pennsylvania (where she thought Raese was running) is trying to take over the Senate seat that was once held by the late, great Senator Robert C. Byrd.

It would be a shame to see Raese take hold of Byrd's old seat.

Yes, Christine O'Donnell and Carl Paladino (and of course the Rent is Too Damn High Party's Jimmy McMillan) are all interesting and entertaining.  However, neither of these races hold any competitive value anymore.  There needs to be more focus on the races that still matter.

Previewing Senate Elections: Illinois

This is the first part of a series of posts analyzing competitive Senate elections in blue states. The second part can be found here.

Illinois

In November 2010, Democratic State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias will face off against Republican Congressman Mark Kirk, in what looks to be a competitive Senate race. A heavily blue state, Democrats have been hurt by a bad national environment coupled with continuing fall-out from the Rod Blagojevich scandals.

Out of the three states being analyzed (the other two being California and New York), Illinois is the state in which Republicans are strongest. Out of the three, it is also the state with the most competitive forthcoming election. This post will analyze the political contours of the state, and the long and difficult path Mr. Kirk must tread for victory.

Illinois, 2008

With respect to demographics, Illinois is structured very simply. It has three parts: Chicago, its suburban metropolis, and the mostly rural downstate.

To win, Congressman Mark Kirk will need to run a gauntlet of challenges in each of section of the state. He must capitalize on Republican strength downstate, revive it in the suburbs, and hope that Chicago turn-out is depressed. If done properly, this will result in a close-run, Scott-Brown type victory.

Downstate Illinois

Mr. Kirk’s easiest task should be here.  Much of downstate Illinois has more in common with Kentucky and Missouri than far-north Chicago. Like these two states, the region has been trending Republican: Bill Clinton did far better than Barack Obama here.

There are several complicating factors. Downstate Illinois has several population centers – but these cities tend to vote less Republican (they all voted for Obama, for instance). Moreover, Mr. Kirk hails from the Chicago metropolis and has a reputation as a moderate congressman; he may not play too well with rural conservatives.

Nevertheless, the region constitutes the Republican base, and Mr. Kirk will need every vote he can get. He should be able to win downstate Illinois quite comfortably. He will have to. After all, President George W. Bush won practically every single county here – and he lost Illinois by double-digits.

Chicago’s Suburbs

The true test of Mark Kirk’s candidacy will come in the Chicago suburbs. His task is doable, but not exactly easy.

There is good news and bad news for Republicans. First the good news: unlike other solidly blue states, the Chicago suburbs still vote Republican. Like Orange County, for years their strength kept Republicans competitive in Illinois. Take a look at suburban DuPage County:

(Note: A negative margin indicates that Democrats lost Cook County, or that Republicans lost DuPage County.)

Even after Democrats started winning suburbs, during President Bill Clinton’s time, Chicago’s suburbs continued voting Republican. In 2004, for instance, George Bush won DuPage county by a little less than 10%.

The bad news for Republicans is that each election, they win the suburbs by a little less. In 2008 President Barack Obama swept DuPage County and the rest of Chicago’s suburbs by double-digits. This victory constituted the culmulation of decades of leftward movement.

The test for Mr. Kirk is the extent to which he can reverse this trend. He will not just have to win the suburbs, but turn the clock back two decades – back to the glory years in which Republicans won around 70% of the vote in DuPage County. (Mr. Kirk will probably not have to do that well, given rising Republican strength downstate.)

Is this doable? Given that Republicans seem to be winning suburbs everywhere this year, it is certainly possible. Mr. Kirk, moreover, has spent a decade representing a Chicago suburb congressional district; this is why Republicans have nominated him.

Chicago

43.3% of Illinois residents live in Cook County, home to America’s third-largest city. Of these, half call Chicago home; the other half live in an inner ring of suburbs.

If God decided to create the ideal Democratic stronghold, he would get something like Chicago. The city is heavily populated by black and Latino minorities, mixed together with a dollop of white liberals. As a cherry on top, it is also home to President Barack Obama – and Chicagoans are highly aware of this fact.

Whether he loses or wins by a landslide, Mark Kirk will not win Cook County. He will just have to take the blow, cross his fingers, and pray that minority turn-out is low (as it has been, this year). That is not a good strategy, but it is the best Republicans can do when 89% of them are white, and they are competing in a minority-majority city.

Conclusions

So what does Mr. Kirk have to do? Say that he gets 35% of the vote in Cook County – propelled by inner-ring suburban strength and minority apathy – and wins a landslide everywhere else in the state (for instance, a 3:2 margin). This gives him 50.3% of the vote in the 2008 Illinois electorate. If white Republicans downstate turn out, and minorities in Chicago do not, Mr. Kirk may get bumped up to a 2-3% victory.

One hypothetical:

As we will see, this task is easier compared to the challenges Republicans face in California and New York. In Illinois they can (barely) get away with a white-only coalition. In California Republicans absolutely must win minorities – a novel challenge. As for New York – it is similar to Illinois, except that New York City is double the size of Chicago. And upstate New York is trending Democratic.

--Inoljt

 

Obama's old Senate seat must remain with the Democrats

This diary is not only an appeal for money on behalf of my friend, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who is running for United States Senator from Illinois, it is also a plea on behalf of the Obama agenda in Congress. We can ill afford to lose even one seat in either chamber of Congress. And symbolically, we need to retain the seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Donate today directly to the campaign here, or donate on Act Blue here.

And what is my role in the campaign? I am an unpaid volunteer for Alexi Giannoulias. I plan on making phone calls on behalf of Alexi, knocking on doors, planting yard signs, writing and advocating on his behalf.

I first met Alexi in late 2005. On November 22, 2005, I received a phone call from Alexi. He was starting his campaign for Illinois State Treasurer then and I was the first grassroots group he called to enlist support.

Here is a quote from my book, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers Did It, concerning the phone call.

And along comes Alexi GiannouliasOn November 22nd I received a telephone call from Alexi Giannoulias. He said, “My name is Alexi Giannoulias and Barack Obama gave me your telephone number. I’m running for Illinois State Treasurer and Barack thought you might be willing to help.” I was taken aback. If true, I was honored that Obama thought so highly of Michelle and me. I had to find out. I was not sure about the Obama connection, so I had to check Giannoulias out with Shomon. I told him I would get back to him. He left his phone number.

It was true. As I detail in the book, the next couple of months were a struggle for us and for Giannoulias. His petitions were challenged by the regular Democratic Party, and an attempt was made to knock him off the ballot. Many of the petitions my grassroots group had collected were challenged. That was because an assumption was made that there must be something wrong with them. What could a small, grassroots group know about collecting petitions to place candidates on the ballot. But we had learned long ago to dot all the i's and cross all the t's and not take short cuts. It reminded me of the title of one of my favorite book titles, If You Haven't Got the Time To Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time To Do It by Jeffrey J. Mayer. But we found the time to do things right and did things the right way.

Alexi remained on the ballot.

I have watched Alexi grow as a politician during these years and more importantly, I have watched him grow into a generous, caring, and passionate human being. He cares deeply about the plight of the poor and down-trodden. And I will point out, he is a true progressive.

And what I truly love about him is his fighting spirit. He is a fighter and I want him in my corner every time. And he will answer all the questions about the bank. Just ask him.

But I will tell you that these questions are raised by his political enemies who view it as an opportunity to bring him down and divert attention away from the real issues facing this nation.

Republicans would rather discuss these things, because they have nothing to discuss when it ccomes to the burning issues. After all, the republicans have decide to beome the "Party of No."

But as I told you, he is a born fighter and won't go down. And it is in that spirit he will fight for you too. Again, to donate. Click here at the campaign web site or here at Act Blue. Help Alexi fight so he can fight for you.

Chicago City Hall Examiner and The Chicago Grassroots Political Examiner.

John is the author of a book pulished by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon.

Giannoulias, Kirk Win IL-Sen Primary

Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has won the Illinois Democratic Senate Primary to fill Barack Obama's old seat. With 86% of precincts reporting, he leads Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman 39-34 and will face Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, the 57-19 victor of the Republican primary, in the General Election.

Although Kirk ran hard to the right for the primaries, he is generally seen as a moderate and is about the only Republican capable of posing a threat to this Democratic open seat, even in an atmosphere like 2010. Giannoulias was probably not the most electable choice, having won his primary by mid-single digits after initially leading by over 15 points. He will face tough questions in the general about his family's bank's ethics and his ties to developer Tony Rezko. Nevertheless, he did have the backing of most of the Illinois Congressional delegation and leads Kirk in the latest poll (PPP, 1/22-1/25) 42-34. Given the state's history and Kirk's tack to the right, I would call this race a Leans Dem more than I would a true toss-up, though it certainly isn't one to ignore. For a preview of the general, check out this article from Salon's Edward McClelland last Friday.

In related news, the gubernatorial primaries for both parties remain too close to call as of 11:12 CST.

Diaries

Advertise Blogads