The Elephants Are Forgetting...

we've talked a lot about the changing electorate in IL 6 at soapblox/chicago over the past year.  one of the aspects that we've discussed has been the fact that people from the city where moving into the district and taking their democratic voting habits with them.  for anyone who's canvassed in the 6th, at least before the primary, you could tell the difference between these new residents and the long-time democratic residents who were their neighbors.  the new democrats assumed that there were others like them, and sort of expected to be contacted by democratic campaigns, while the old dems were likely to tell you that you wouldn't find another democrat on their block.  plus, the old democrats were grateful to be contacted; the new dems not so much.

another aspect of this changing dynamic could be found this week in this (pdf) release.  the chicago sun-times sums it up this way:

The number of foreign-born U.S. citizens jumped by nearly 38 percent in the suburbs over the last five years -- leaping almost 50 percent in DuPage County alone.

but these always seemed incomplete explanations to me.  today, we get word that party identification among republicans is down, again.  

the 37.3% to 31.9% edge for democrats slightly exceeds the 4 point edge found at the end of the campaign in 2004.  add to that slight increase reports that democrats are more eager to cast ballots this year and you have all the indications for the wave election that rahm has long predicted.  "In fact, Democrats now hold a voter enthusiasm advantage that is the mirror image of the GOP's edge in voter zeal leading up to the 1994 midterm election."

the problem in the 6th may be the candidate.  the pew study finds that "Democratic zeal is mostly driven by anger toward President Bush and Republican leaders, not support for Democratic leaders." duckworth still struggles with these "angry" democratic voters, people who should be any democrat's natural constituency.  unfortunately, the duckworth campaign was designed for the 2004 6th, not the district's composition in 2006.  the "perfect candidate" to run in amongst an energized republican electorate, duckworth remains unable to consolidate staunch democrats in the district behind her.  and one still gets the impression that she/they expected the dupage democratic party to provide resources either it doesn't have or isn't inclined to share.

the second element, though, is equally important, because duckworth's biggest backers are those democratic leaders who still haven't connected with the democratic activist base.

this is not to say that duckworth doesn't have strengths.  the american electorate still likes celebrity candidates, even candidates that probably shouldn't win (eg, fred gandy).  and duckworth still has the biggest arrow in the democratic quiver, rahm emanuel.  personally, i have the feeling that rahm will do anything to win this seat, and he may be up to the task.  

the roskam campaign has seemed inclined to help, at least up until lately.  while roskam had plenty of foot soldiers out in the 6th right before his (uncontested) primary -- more than either duckworth or cegelis -- his campaign stalled under the bright lights of this election cycle.  it seemed odd to many in the area, since roskam had run for congress previously, for the seat won by judy biggert (IL 13).  but roskam has since brought in jason roe to beef up his campaign staff.  and the nrcc has been hammering voters in the 6th with glossy mailers.  stu rothenberg calls this race a toss-up/lean republican.  that sounds about right at this moment...

Tags: congressional races, House Races, IL 6, Tammy Duckworth (all tags)

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