Post Mortem: IL-GOV 2014 Primary

Thank you to all who spent time with us last night. We had a lot of fun and I have leftover pizza in the fridge so that’s a plus but I’m not sure that we’ll do that again. It’s very labor intensive. My hope is that enough people saw how you can cut and slice all the data that comes in and make it much more useful and helpful than simply knowing the running total for the candidates. Primaries are one thing, but come the general election there is even more useful available data and even more ways to use it. The news organizations get a ton of useful data throughout the night and simply don’t tell you very much about it or display it in a useful way and they don’t put it into a historical context. With the help of a bunch of great volunteers we were able to do that for one race, imagine if they programmed their computers to output it for all the races. I really hope they do.

Ok, on to some observations: (remember none of these results are official and when the official certified numbers are released in about a month there will be some minor changes)

  • In 2010 Dillard got 155,334 votes and in 2014 the Tribune is reporting 100% of precincts in and his total is 301,869, he almost doubled his output from 2010. Now the big question is whether Dillard was the beneficiary of Republicans coming home to him or was the push to get Democrat and independent crossover votes the key to his success? In the 2010 Republican Governor’s primary there were 767,485 total votes, for 2014 the Tribune total currently shows 808,409 with 100% reporting (that number will still likely go up after some absentee, vote by mail, provisional and overseas ballots get included in the final certified totals). So Dillard increased his vote total by about 146K votes while the overall size of the vote only increased by about 41K, that means one of two things:
    1. Dillard’s surge came mostly from regular Republicans.
    2. Dillard’s surge came from from crossover Democrats and independents while at the same time many regular Republicans stayed home. This seems the less likely of the two, in 2006 735,810 voted in the Republican Gubernatorial primary while in 2002 that number was 917,828. Last night’s total Republican primary voters falls within a pretty normal range.
  • The most surprising numbers (to me at least) were Dillard’s downstate numbers compared to Brady. According to our numbers in the downstate 96 counties Dillard beat Brady 40-19. In the 90 counties outside the Chicago Media Market Dillard beat Brady 41-20. The only media market where Brady beat Dillard was Evansville (29-26) a media market so small it only has 5 counties. In the Peoria media market (Brady’s home turf) Dillard beat him 35-25, in the Paducah market (deep southern Illinois) Dillard beat him 49-19, in the Quincy market it was 65-8. Downstate went overwhelmingly for Dillard.
  • It was a much different story in Cook and the collars though, this is where Rauner won the race. Rauner had a slight edge on Dillard in the city proper 43-39 (about 5% of the statewide vote) but Rauner did even better in the 5 collar counties besting Dillard 48-36 (about 28% of the statewide vote) and his best area was the Cook County suburbs where he bested Dillard 52-32 (about 16% of the statewide vote). Dillard lost his home county of DuPage 46-39.
  • It is going to be fun to look at the color coded maps in this race (will be available sometime after the totals are certified next month), particularly the township by township totals in the Cook County suburbs. I’m guessing Rauner ran up some pretty big numbers in the affluent northern suburbs but I’m just as eager to see who won the blue collar NW & SW side townships. I bet there will be some interesting data there.
  • Downstate Dillard did well and bested Rauner overall (40-31 in the downstate 96 and 41-29 in the 90 counties outside the Chicago media market) but Rauner still had pockets where he did well. Rauner won the Quad Cities media market and almost fought to a draw in the Rockford media market. Remember, when these candidates (or outside groups) buy ads they don’t appear on every channel in the state, they generally appear in some but not all media markets. The data that I wish this website had but doesn’t is the campaign spending for/against candidates by media market. It would make this analysis a lot more fun. I’m told that at least some of this data is publicly available, depending on how labor intensive it is that may be on the future to-do list.
  • Incumbent Pat Quinn gave up 28% to an underfunded and not well known opponent, but anyone who says this means trouble for him in the general election is just baiting for pageviews. Quinn may or may not win the general but the outcome of that race does not correlate to his primary election results. The last two incumbent governors who ran for re-election faced a primary opponent. In 1994 incumbent Jim Edgar gave up 25% to Jack Roeser in their Republican Gubernatorial primary and he went on to win his general election by 30 points. In 2006 incumbent Blagojevich gave up 29% to Edwin Eisendrath and he went on to win the general by a larger margin (10%) than he won his 2002 gubernatorial (7%).

Last, the law was changed last year so that starting with this election all 110 election authorities in this state have to provide the State Board of Elections with precinct-level results in all of these races. Depending on how usable that data is we could potentially format it, collate it and have some fun with it. For example, it would be interesting to know which state rep/sen districts Rauner and Quinn performed the best/worst in. At least it would give them a pretty good idea where they need to shore up their base. Hopefully it is data we can use.

Election Night Live

Update: Sorry we didn’t update this post throughout the night. Things got much busier than I anticipated and I didn’t have time. We did throw out some Tweets though and I’ve copied and pasted them below.

As promised we are bringing live election results for the Illinois Gubernatorial Primary tonight.

Live Election Results Dashboard

As the night goes on we may share any interesting items of note by updating this post and/or on Twitter at @ILElectionData.

Announcement – Live Election Night Results

On the night of the Illinois primary I plan to have live election night returns for the Illinois Gubernatorial Republican Primary. While you can get live statewide totals at almost any Illinois news site (and some even give you county by county totals) I plan to have live data that shows real time totals for the statewide vote broken out by county, by media market and by region (both traditional and expanded collars) and showing vote share. Right next to the live results you’ll be able to scroll through all of the historical results for Republican primaries going back years or even decades. I spent the weekend building the dashboard display for this and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Most major news organizations subscribe to the AP election package and they get live data from the AP on election night, that is how they are able to display the election results. I have tried to pay the AP for this data and they refuse to let me subscribe because this isn’t a “news organization”. So while I’d really like to have complete access to live data on every race in the state and be able to display it in a way that is helpful and useful to the people who like or need to see results in great detail for this election we still have to do it by hand and so we can only do this one race for now.

This effort is more likely to crash this website than to work and be cool but we are going to try it anyway. I have bribed a group of friends with pizza and beer to lookup the live election results for the Republican Gubernatorial primary from all 110 election authorities. I have created a big spreadsheet that a group of about 10-12 friends will be entering data into and it is set up to run a bunch of calculations and display all the data the way I like to see it. If it works it should be interesting and a lot of fun, but most likely the hosting company will be down that day or the website will crash though. Either way I just hope it works well enough to encourage the big news organizations in Illinois to take a look at how they display election night results and see what they could be doing better.

New Section: ELECTIONS

This website has a lot of data stored about various elections, for example you can find performance maps in the MAPS section as well as campaign budget information in the BUDGETS section. I wanted to create an easily navigated quick glance section by race for this data to make the data easier to find and use. Now there is a new section called ELECTIONS. Click on each of the pages below to find a quick glance page for each of the constitutional offices in Illinois with direct links to map and budget data.

Statewide Profile

Constitutional Offices

Federal Offices

Congressional Offices (2012 – 2022 Map)

Congressional Offices (2002 – 2012 Map)

Statewide Primary Election Maps Now Available

Maps for statewide primary elections are now available in the MAPS section. A direct link can be found here.

You can find performance maps for every Democratic and Republican primary candidate for statewide office going back to at least 2002 and many races from 1994-2000 are also available. You can see maps by county, by Cook County township and/or by Chicago ward.

I’m pretty happy with this development as now this website can display all of the statewide maps I’ve had in my files and had hoped to include.

Updated Data: All Maps (by Candidate)

You can now see MAPS for all candidates in an election instead of just one. I’m very, very happy to be able to share this latest update, this was something that really bothered me from the day this site went live almost a year ago. Even now the Google software used to generate these maps is officially listed as “experimental” so it should come as no surprise that certain functionality was limited or unavailable when I first launched this site but unfortunately the only workaround would have involved an incredibly labor intensive process so I just waited. Now I’m very happy to be able to visually display all of the data I wanted.

Previously for each race that MAPS were available you could only see the map for one candidate in each race, you could at best then infer how the opposition performed but the limitation was frustrating. Now you can see the performance map for all the candidates. So for example if you happen to remember that in 2006 the Rockford Register Star was fed up with the Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor and instead endorsed Green Party candidate Rich Whitney you can look at this map and see what effect that endorsement had.

So far all the map data has been for general elections only but now I can and will add all the statewide primaries. That will probably take a few weeks (I just do this in my spare time) but I want to have it done before the NHL playoffs start and I’m sure March Madness will make it harder to find some free time.

After I get the statewide primary maps up I’d like to add more to the Chicago Aldermanic data set. The 2011 elections are already in there but I’ve always been meaning to add 2007 and 2003. So that’s the update plan for now. As always I hope you find this information useful. Let me know if you find any errors or have any requests.

Updated Data: Campaign Budget Reports

A little late but as promised I have updated the BUDGETS section. I had previously made available monthly fundraising and spending budgets (along with monthly payroll and weekly media buys) for about 12 competitive Illinois congressional races in the last few cycles. I had promised to update that report library with the 6 competitive congressional races from the 2012 cycle as well as go back and create the same reports for statewide races.

In order to produce these reports I downloaded the transaction data from the electronically filed reports of the candidates and then went through them line by line and assigned them to their proper budget section. Now not only are the latest congressional races included but I included every major party candidate for constitutional office (Gov, Lt. Gov, AG, SOS, Comptroller and Treasurer) from the 2010, 2006 and 2002 cycles (roughly 75 candidates). Further I created some quick glance tables in case you just want to look at the overall total raised/spent, and I put the entire database of transactions online. If you want to query all of the individual transactions I used to create these reports you can now copy that data for your own files and use it to build your own custom reports.

Even if you consider yourself a political junkie you may not find this part of the site particularly useful. It is really most helpful for campaign staffers who have to manage their campaign budget, usually just a campaign manager and/or an operations director. But for the candidates and staffers responsible for creating a campaign budget and managing the campaign’s spending decisions this data is almost invaluable and will save you hours while trying to figure out how other past campaigns have managed the same challenges.

The data includes three types of reports, 1) monthly campaign budgets; 2) monthly payroll budgets and 3) weekly general election paid media (mostly/usually television). There are a number of reasons this information can be useful. If you are running your campaign well you are going to try to keep your payroll and operating costs to a bare minimum, but it is helpful to know just how low you can reasonably keep those operating expenses and it’s valuable to see when other campaigns started hiring employees and/or incurring expenses.

Another issue that financial planners struggle with is figuring out how much your campaign will be able to spend on paid media and when to start spending. It’s helpful to see when other comparable races started their paid communication and it’s very helpful to see how comparable campaigns did in their fundraising in the final weeks/months of the campaign. You will almost certainly start spending your paid media budget before knowing how much money will still come in during the remainder of the campaign. You will have to make some estimates/predictions and you are going to want to base those estimates on comparable data if possible.

Campaign Raised/Spent Quick Glance

Here you will find quick glance tables listing the amount raised and spent during the election cycle for every statewide campaign and the key congressional races in my database.

Campaign Budget Reports

Here you will find monthly campaign budget reports, monthly payroll reports and weekly (fall) media buy reports for every statewide campaign and key recent congressional campaigns.

Campaign Budget Database

You may be curious about the individual transactions that were aggregated to assemble these campaign budget reports. Here you can query the database of individual transactions I used to build these reports including the various data fields I appended when I went through these transactions line by line. Every bit of data I have is available here. With this data you can build your own custom reports to suit your needs.

Like any other data set this one has limitations and caveats so if you’re planning to study this highly specialized data it’s probably worth your time to be aware of the additional information provided in the FAQ.

2014 IL-GOV/LT GOV: How Does it Work?

There have been a few changes in the law that will affect how the Governor and Lt. Governor will be elected in 2014. I’ll cover those changes and their impact below but I’m still left with one unanswered question: can a Lt. Governor candidate raise and spend funds in support of his/her election and if so how does that work?

Let me begin by saying I’m not an election attorney (or attorney of any kind for that matter) so just because I have unanswered questions isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. However two key changes in the election code will be in effect for the first time in a Governor’s race for the 2014 election:

  1. Contribution limits – the law implementing contribution limits went into effect January 1, 2011 for the start of the 2012 election cycle. The law limits a candidate for elected office to a single “candidate political committee” and provides for contribution limits of amounts depending on the donor type and the office sought. The language on candidate committees and contribution limits can be found in Article 9 of the election code.
  2. Joint nomination of candidates for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor – in 2010 HB5820 which became Public Act 96-1018 changed the election law so that the Governor and Lt. Governor would appear on a primary ballot as a team and be voted on as a joint pair. This bill was passed in the aftermath of the messy divorce between Democratic nominees for Governor and Lt. Governor Pat Quinn and Scott Lee Cohen in the 2010 primary. As you can see from reading the public act the language provides a mechanism for how the process is supposed to work to nominate a joint ticket of Governor and Lt. Governor and is silent on other concerns with this new situation.

Prior to either of these laws going into effect the Governor and Lt. Governor were elected separately and because there were no contribution limits either candidate or both could have as many committees as they wanted. Sometimes candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor would agree to campaign as a team (even though both would still be required to win independent elections) and other times the elections for Governor and Lt. Governor went forward with the candidates willing to let the elections play out and deal with any outcome.

In 2006 Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ron Gidwitz agreed to campaign with Lt. Governor Candidate Steve Rauschenberger and even though each candidate had their own candidate committee for their campaign funds (Gidwitz for Governor and Citizens for Rauschenberger, respectively) they also decided to create a 3rd joint committee called the Illinois Turnaround Team for funds that would ostensibly be used to pay for campaign activities to support both candidates. I can’t think of any legal advantage gained by creating a 3rd committee, it seemed to be only for cosmetic purposes as they campaigned publicly as part of a team (a turnaround team) working jointly. Ultimately both candidates were unsuccessful in their respective primaries but it’s a good example of the various options that were available to candidates prior to the new laws going into effect.

In the 2010 Democratic primary the campaigns for Governor and Lt. Governor proceeded independently and in the end Pat Quinn secured the Gubernatorial nomination while Scott Lee Cohen was the victorious Lt. Governor candidate. Cohen later dropped out after pressure by Quinn and other Democratic leaders. Subsequently the Democratic party selected Shelia Simon as a replacement candidate at Quinn’s behest. Simon could have legally created a campaign committee to raise and spend funds in support of this election however she never opened one in her own name. Quinn has had the longstanding Taxpayers for Quinn committee and also in the spring of 2010 they created a committee called Quinn/Simon for Illinois which was used to raise and spend a significant amount of funds in support of the Quinn/Simon ticket that fall. Again this joint committee doesn’t appear to have provided the Quinn/Simon campaign with any additional legal advantages it simply had the cosmetic effect of a ticket working together.

Looking ahead to 2014 it appears that the law that implemented campaign contribution limits for the first time will also prevent the creation of these additional joint committees as a candidate is limited to one and only one candidate committee:

(10 ILCS 5/9-2) (from Ch. 46, par. 9-2)
Sec. 9-2. Political committee designations.
(a) Every political committee shall be designated as a (i) candidate political committee, (ii) political party committee, (iii) political action committee, (iv) ballot initiative committee, or (v) independent expenditure committee.
(b) Beginning January 1, 2011, no public official or candidate for public office may maintain or establish more than one candidate political committee for each office that public official or candidate holds or is seeking. The name of each candidate political committee shall identify the name of the public official or candidate supported by the candidate political committee. If a candidate establishes separate candidate political committees for each public office, the name of each candidate political committee shall also include the public office to which the candidate seeks nomination for election, election, or retention. If a candidate establishes one candidate political committee for multiple offices elected at different elections, then the candidate shall designate an election cycle, as defined in Section 9-1.9, for purposes of contribution limitations and reporting requirements set forth in this Article. No political committee, other than a candidate political committee, may include the name of a candidate in its name.

What is less clear is how the law applies to someone running for Lt. Governor. Here are a number of questions that immediately come to mind:

  • Now that a candidate for Lt. Governor is no longer elected independently are these candidates still allowed to raise and spend funds in support of their own election (primary and general)?
  • If yes, can they accept contributions from donors that have already maxed out to the Gubernatorial candidate they will be nominated with?
  • If yes, are they allowed to coordinate all of their electoral activities with the Gubernatorial candidate they will be nominated with including making joint fundraising appeals for twice the legal limit (half to the Gubernatorial committee/half to the Lt. Governor committee) and fully coordinated spending decisions from both committee accounts?
  • Pay to play legislation outlawed campaign contributions to any candidate for an office where the donor has been awarded a contract by that officeholder. Could a Lt. Governor candidate accept contributions from donors that are prohibited from giving to a gubernatorial candidate under this provision? Could they then spend those funds in support of their ticket? Can they coordinate that spending decision with the Gubernatorial candidate they will be nominated with and who would not be legally allowed to accept such a donation?

It’s entirely possible all of these questions have very clear answers explicitly stated in the law, I’m not an election attorney and even though I have a lot of experience dealing with the Illinois election code I freely admit I’m no expert. But if some of these questions don’t have clear answers hopefully the legislature can use the upcoming spring session to clarify the election code prior to the 2014 election cycle kicking into full gear.

Updated Data: 2012 Targeted IL Congressionals

As promised I have the updated quick glance and scorecards for the 6 targeted congressional districts in Illinois with the exception of some of the data in IL-17. The Peoria and Tazewell county clerks have not yet published their precinct-level election returns for 2012GE so I haven’t yet been able to pull the Presidential race and turnout info for that district, I’ll update everything once that data is available. Since everything else was ready I saw no need to delay publishing this. As always, you can find this data in the VOTE ANALYSIS section.

Take a look at the table below. The first three column in the table show the Dem Perf/Rep Perf/Diff for the congressional race and then the last three columns show the Dem Perf/Rep Perf/Diff for the Presidential race:

Cong D Cong R Diff   Obama Romney Diff
IL-08 54.74% 45.26% D +09.48   57.35% 40.97% D +16.38
IL-10 50.63% 49.37% D +01.25   57.47% 41.19% D +16.28
IL-11 58.39% 41.31% D +17.08   57.32% 40.95% D +16.37
IL-12 51.65% 42.74% D +08.91   49.62% 48.17% D +01.44
IL-13 46.21% 46.55% R +00.34   48.26% 49.19% R +00.93
IL-17 53.28% 46.72% D +06.55   N/A N/A N/A

A few things jump out at me:

  • In IL-08 Obama did about two and a half points better than Duckworth while Walsh did more than 4 points better than Romney. As you can see from the Obama statewide numbers he may have done poorly downstate but he was surprisingly strong in the collar counties.
  • In IL-10 Obama was almost 7 points better than Schneider and Dold was more than 8 points better than Romney. As previously noted Obama ran well in the suburbs but it’s also hard not to conclude that Dold just ran very well as a Republican in a Democrat-friendly district.
  • In IL-11 there was little difference between the congressional race and the presidential race, Foster ran about a point stronger than Obama while Biggert was about four tenths of a point stronger than Romney. The two races basically mirrored each other so it doesn’t appear any of the four candidates enjoyed a local advantage.
  • I previously noted that Obama ran much poorer than Democratic State Senate candidates in downstate districts, particularly in the southern half of the state so it’s no surprise that in IL-12 Enyart was 2 points stronger than Obama, however it is somewhat a surprise that Plummer ran about five and a half points worse than Romney. While Enyart didn’t get into the race until well after the primary when the Democratic nominee withdrew Plummer was the early choice of the local party faithful, was independently wealthy and came from a family with strong business ties to the area so he was expected to be a strong contender for this seat but for whatever reason he didn’t perform up to expectations. Plummer lost his race by almost 9 points in a district Obama only won by about a point and a half. Maybe it wasn’t winnable for Plummer if Romney couldn’t best Obama who struggled downstate but I’m still surprised this wasn’t closer.
  • IL-13 was the closest of the targeted races for both the congressional race and the presidential race. Most notable about this race was that independent 3rd party candidate John Hartman from Edwardsville took 7.24% of the vote in a race where Republican Rodney Davis edged Democrat David Gill by 0.34% overall. The presidential race wasn’t much different, Romney edged Obama by just under a point. This was the most Republican leaning of the 6 targeted congressional districts so it’s no surprise that this was the district where the Republicans performed the best.
  • I noted previously that Obama ran particularly well in the Quad Cities media market where some of the northwestern Illinois counties were exposed to the same advertising that voters in eastern Iowa saw. I don’t yet have districtwide totals for the presidential race because two election authorities don’t yet have their precinct-level vote totals published but if you look at the counties that we do have data for you’ll notice that it appears that Obama ran much stronger than Bustos did, and Bustos won her race by six and half points. This strong showing at the top of the ticket helps explain why Democratic State Senator Mike Jacobs was able to win reelection by almost 10 points in the 36th senate district despite pre-election polls that showed him far behind.

For quick comparison by district to past races here’s the Quick Glance:

IL-08 IL-10 IL-11 IL-12 IL-13 IL-17 Statewide
12CONG D +09.48 D +01.25 D +17.08 D +08.91 R +00.34 D +06.55  
12PRES D +16.38 D +16.28 D +16.37 D +01.44 R +00.93   D +16.87
10SEN R +11.33 R +12.79 R +06.28 R +08.52 R +18.72 R +14.84 R +01.59
10GOV R +07.64 R +00.93 R +03.96 R +06.08 R +19.99 R +14.59 D +00.69
10AG D +27.10 D +30.96 D +29.26 D +19.73 D +18.25 D +22.90 D +33.07
10SOS D +39.33 D +41.61 D +41.56 D +27.14 D +28.91 D +33.39 D +42.85
10COMP R +26.34 R +21.08 R +18.49 R +10.04 R +24.79 R +16.74 R +11.74
10TREAS R +19.11 R +13.19 R +12.39 R +04.70 R +19.97 R +09.76 R +04.42
08PRES D +21.18 D +25.57 D +21.32 D +10.99 D +09.31 D +19.37 D +25.14
08SEN D +34.08 D +37.08 D +33.53 D +30.06 D +29.97 D +35.27 D +39.31
06GOV   D +08.28   D +14.74   D +08.31 D +10.55
06AG   D +51.06   D +33.62   D +32.84 D +48.20
06SOS   D +32.87   D +24.01   D +24.23 D +29.79
06COMP   D +30.45   D +27.21   D +27.33 D +32.76
06TREAS   D +09.18   D +11.67   D +10.53 D +12.70
04PRES       D +02.57   D +06.20 D +10.34
04SEN       D +33.15   D +38.42 D +42.92

And as always you can find the full scorecards for each district by clicking on VOTE ANALYSIS on the top toolbar and then scrolling down to “Congressional District Analysis” or just follow this direct link.

If you find an error or you think something might be wrong let me know. In order to compile this data I have to aggregate data from many different sources and then try and format it so that it all fits together. There’s a lot of copying and pasting involved and even though I check and doublecheck for mistakes they’re still pretty easy to make.

2012 IL Election Analysis

Here are some thoughts on the data that stood out after looking at the various data points from the 2012 election in Illinois, in no particular order:

  • Illinois was not a contested state so it would certainly have been different in some ways if the two candidates had contested the election here. It’s impossible to tell in what way it would have changed though.
  • Of the 9 contested swing states two of them bordered Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, none of the Wisconsin media markets bleed into Illinois though. However the Quad Cities media market covers both Illinois and Iowa and Obama performed very strongly in the Illinois counties in this media market relative to the rest of the state. He took 55.43% in the Quad Cities media market. Just glancing at the county totals map it becomes apparent that there must be some local geographic democratic performance explanation for the counties closest to the Quad Cities as there is a cluster of counties with strong Obama performance that is unmatched anywhere else in the state. Obama got over 60% in Rock Island county, over 55% in Whiteside, Knox and Henderson, had over 50% in Henry, Mercer and Warren and even won Carroll and JoDaviess with narrow pluaralities. The only two counties Romney won in the media market were Stark county by a very significant margin and Bureau county by less than two tenths of a point. Perhaps Obama was carried on the coattails of the contested congressional race in this area but since Bustos lost many of these counties that Obama won the more likely explanation is that Obama performed well in the areas that were heavily exposed to both campaigns’ TV ads.
  • As for the rest of downstate Obama’s county wins were mostly limited to counties with large college towns like Dekalb (Northern Illinois University), Champaign (U of I), Peoria (Bradley), and Jackson (SIU). He also won St. Clair and Alexander, two counties that were won by both Quinn and Giannoulias in 2010 a year in which the Democrats did historically poor in 2010, plus Winnebago and Fulton with majorities.
  • The 2012 election in Illinois would be largely unremarkable compared to 2008 but for the fact that in between those two elections was the Republican landslide year of 2010, a year in which much of the state behaved in ways not seen since 1994. Since 1990 the worst performing Democratic candidate downstate was Dawn Clark Netsch’s 28% in her gubernatorial run in 1994 (the last Republican landslide year) but that was not at all a competitive election, she lost by 30 points statewide (64-34). A typical democratic performance in the downstate 96 counties for a Democrat in a competitive election is somewhere in the mid 40s, this was true for Obama 2012 (45%), Giannoulias 2006 (45%), Kerry 2004 (45%), Blagojevich 2002 (46%), Madigan 2002 (46%) and Gore 2000 (46%). Even native downstaters in competitive elections Poshard in 1998 (49%) and Durbin in 1996 (50%) performed only slightly better. The low point in a competitive election prior to 2010 for an actual competitive election was for Carol Mosely-Braun in 1998 (37%), a race she only lost by 3 points statewide. Despite all of Braun’s troubles in her 1998 campaign she still outperformed Quinn’s narrow 2010 victory and Giannoulias’ narrow 2010 loss downstate, they both only took 34% downstate. So after the historic drubbing the Democrats received in 2010 and the much discussed problems Obama had with white voters, rural voters and especially rural whites it was quite noticeable to see the President’s democratic performance in the downstate 96 counties return to typical levels.
  • It was a strong year for Democrats locally and nationally so much of the analysis is disproportionately tilted toward the Democrats but it wasn’t all good, at least not for Obama. The Illinois Senate Dems won a historic supermajority of 40 seats (30 is a majority, 36 is a supermajority) including several key targeted downstate races where Obama performed much more poorly than the local State Senate candidate. (you can see maps of these districts here) In central Illinois Andy Manar won the hotly contested 48th State Senate district by more than 10 points but Obama didn’t win any of the counties in this district. In western Illinois John Sullivan won re-election in the 47th State Senate district by 12 points and the only counties that Obama won in this district were in the vote-light portion in the northern part of the district. In deep southern Illinois perennial target Gary Forby won the southernmost 59th State Senate District by 18 points despite the fact that Obama only won Alexander and Jackson (partial) counties. In the Metro East Bill Haine won his targeted re-election race in the 56th State Senate district by 18 points despite the fact that the President had a narrow loss in Madison county. In fact every countywide election in Madison County was won by the Democratic candidate despite the fact that the President had a narrow loss in the county.
  • In the Gubernatorial blowout year of 1994 when Republican Jim Edgar beat Democrat Dawn Clark Netsch by 30 points Netsch only won one county, Gallatin County, in deep southern Illinois. In 2012 Romney won Gallatin county by 18 points.
  • Obama once again won the 5 traditional collar counties collectively, winning all but McHenry county outright. Democrats in competitive elections have performed better in the collar counties in Presidential election years than off years. In Presidential election years Obama 2012 (51%), Obama 2008 (56%), Kerry 2004 (45%), Gore 2000 (44%) and Durbin 1996 (45%) were much stronger than off-year elections like Quinn 2010 (39%), Giannoulias 2010 (38%), Blagojevich 2006 (42%), Giannoulias 2006 (46%), Blagojevich 2002 (39%), Madigan 2002 (36%), Poshard 1998 (32%), Mosely-Braun 1998 (36%), and Hartigan 1990 (36%).
  • Not only are Democrats showing strength in the collar counties, once the GOP stronghold, but the vote share coming from the collar counties is increasing as well. As recently as 1998 the vote share among the regions was the easy to remember 20/20/20/40, meaning 20% of the statewide vote came from the City of Chicago, 20% from the Cook County suburbs, 20% from the 5 traditional collar counties and 40% from the downstate 96 counties. However that balance of power has shifted towards an increasing vote share coming from the collar counties at the expense of downstate. Now it’s almost 25% of the statewide vote coming from the 5 collar counties while both the city of Chicago and the Cook County suburbs are responsible for about 19% each and the remaining 37% coming from the downstate 96 counties. So not only are the collar counties trending more Democratic but they are also responsible for an increasing amount of the overall vote statewide.
  • The Democrats had been making inroads into both Will and Lake counties for some time but that momentum came to an abrupt halt in 2010. For example in 2006 Democrats Blagojevich (GOV) and Giannoulias (TREAS) won narrow pluralities in both Lake and Will counties in their competitive elections. However in 2010 Lake County was a strong performer for area native Mark Kirk and Will County had a particularly well organized Tea Party faction. Yet in 2012 Obama carried both Lake (53%) and Will (52%), clear victories in both cases.
  • Despite all the attention given to voter enthusiasm (or lack thereof) among various political parties, subgroups of voters or the electorate as a whole the actual turnout was pretty much consistent with past turnout. In Illinois a typical presidential year election gets turnout around 70% and in an off-year election the turnout is in the ballpark of 50%. In the past three presidential election years the statewide turnout was 2012 (70.2%), 2008 (71.6%) and 2004 (71.3%) and in the last three off years it was 2010 (50.5%), 2006 (48.7%) and 2002 (51.9%). For all the hype surrounding this enthusiastic electorate in 2008 it turns out the 2008 turnout was only .3% higher than 2004 in Illinois and the falloff to 2012 was 1.4%, a drop but not much. Almost all of that drop-off came from the Cook County suburbs and the collar counties, Chicago turnout was actually up a bit while downstate turnout remained flat.
  • The 2012 election featured a notable discussion on wealth and how tax policy affects the various economic classes in the country. Additionally the preceding four years included a number of policy initiatives from the Obama White House geared toward reform of financial investing and the Republican nominee was well known for his successful private equity firm and abundant wealth. It was therefore interesting to look at the Obama performance in the wealthy north shore, specifically New Trier township in Cook County notable for its wealthy communities but also its historically competitive Democratic performance. Obama’s 2012 performance in New Trier was 54%, down from a notable high of 63% in 2008 but still rather favorable when viewed against historical Democratic performance in past competitive elections such as Quinn 2010 (47%), Blagojevich 2006 (42%), Giannoulias 2006 (47%), Kerry 2004 (56%), Blagojevich 2002 (47%), Madigan 2002 (48%), Gore 2000 (52%), Poshard 1998 (30%), Mosely Braun 1998 (49%), Durbin 1996 (60%) and Hartigan 1990 (32%). Obama lost 9 points in this highly affluent area between 2008 and 2012 but even with that performance degradation his 2012 performance in New Trier township still put him among the top tier of past statewide candidates in competitive elections in the township.
  • In the City of Chicago the affluent communities are downtown in wards like 42 and 43. County and township boundaries don’t change but ward boundaries are redrawn after each census and the most recent boundary change just happened so comparing this year’s ward totals to historical performance isn’t exactly apples to apples but it’s notable that both wards 42 & 43 saw about a 9 point drop in Obama’s performance from 2008 to 2012, mirroring that of New Trier township. However even with that performance drop Obama was still over 60% in both wards. In fact there was only one ward in the city that held Obama under 60% and that was the far northwest side 41st ward which has long been the Republican party’s most favorable ward, but even there he won 53-45. In the City of Chicago overall Obama dropped about 1.5% from 2008 to 2012 but he still took 84% in the City and turnout in Chicago was up whereas it was down everywhere else. When a Democrat takes 84% in the City and turnout is up in the City relative to other parts of the state it’s usually a very strong sign that the Democrat is going to perform well.
  • I’ll have more on the 6 contested congressional races once I finish tabulating the scorecards for those districts but for now you can view the district boundaries here and here are the official results for IL-08: (Duckworth (D) 55% – Walsh (R) 45%), IL-10: (Schneider (D) 51% – DOld (R) 49%), IL-11: (Foster (D) 59% – Biggert (R) 41%), IL-12: (Enyart (D) 52% – Plummer (R) 43%), IL-13: (Davis (R) 46.6% – Gill (D) 46.2%) and IL-17: (Bustos (D) 53% – Schilling (R) 47%).