2016 Cycle: $134 Million Spent on State Legislative Races, Plus Another $39 Million Could Have Been

Published on

The 2016 cycle will be remembered for the most expensive state legislative races in our state’s history … so far. In all $134 million was spent on races for the Illinois General Assembly and another $39 million remained in the campaign accounts of the the winners, their challengers and legislative leaders. These eye-popping totals do not even include the $50 million Governor Rauner recently added to his campaign account or the $10.4 million that federal superpac Leading Illinois For Tomorrow (LIFT) spent on anti-Trump ads that also tried to tie Trump to Rauner or the $11 million spent in the Comptroller’s race. It also doesn’t include the more than $2 million that the Governor’s IE, Turnaround Illinois, spent on ads promoting term limits.

Not only was there a massive influx of money this cycle but also significant amounts of money were moved around within the system making it hard to keep track of all the money without double counting it. Throughout the cycle we were tracking money raised to try to keep track of how much could be spent. Now that the cycle is over we have switched gears tracking money spent (plus in-kinds which is also spending) which makes it easier to eliminate double counting. See below for an explanation on the methodology.

 

Legislative Spending Totals

Here are the traditional spending totals for the General Assembly, this does not include transfers out but it does include in-kinds.

Spending and In-Kinds 1/1/15 to 3/31/16 4/1/16 to 12/31/16 Total
Senate Democrats on the Ballot $3,821,809.35 $16,657,087.82 $20,478,897.17
Senate Democrats Lost Primary $666,833.59 $12,679.03 $679,512.62
Senate Democrats Not on the Ballot $1,821,571.22 $1,238,002.10 $3,059,573.32
Senate Republicans on the Ballot $2,164,004.26 $10,567,669.76 $12,731,674.02
Senate Republicans Lost Primary $481,869.06 $23,966.43 $505,835.49
Senate Republicans Not on the Ballot $356,638.27 $215,149.77 $571,788.04
House Democrats $11,643,285.77 $26,966,853.71 $38,610,139.48
House Democrats Lost Primary $2,769,853.00 $61,396.66 $2,831,249.66
House Republicans $3,232,609.76 $29,153,040.89 $32,385,650.65
House Republicans Lost Primary $1,111,305.92 $72,799.22 $1,184,105.14
Total $28,069,780.20 $84,968,645.39 $113,038,425.59

$75 million of that total was spent in the House compared to just $38 million in the Senate. Democrats actually spent more than the Republicans, $66 million to $47 million, led by the Senate Democrats who outspent their Republican counterparts $24 million to $14 million. In the House the Democrats outspent the Republicans $41 million to $34 million but much of that was due to the primary, in the general election the Republicans actually outspent the House Democrats $29 million to $27 million.

And here are the independent expenditure totals for the same period.

 
Total IE Spending 1/1/15 to 3/31/16 4/1/16 to 12/31/16 Total
Independent Expenditure Spending $11,129,206.51 $9,671,956.91 $20,801,163.42

Taken together that is $134 million that was spent on state legislative races in the 2016 cycle.

 

Available Funds Left Unspent

In addition to that total there was money left over, here are the combined cash on hand totals for all of the legislative candidates as of 12/31/2016.

Candidate Committee Totals 12/31/16 COH
Senate Democrats $8,279,494.66
Senate Republicans $3,066,880.35
House Democrats $16,491,552.44
House Republicans $3,186,498.16
Total $31,024,425.61

And here are the remaining fund balances for the leadership committees.

Leadership Funds 12/31/16 COH
Democratic Party of Illinois $2,856,471.32
Democratic Majority $1,064,490.82
13th Ward Democratic Org $806,853.09
Senate Democratic Victory Fund $446,650.14
Committee to Support John Cullerton for State Central Committeeman $0.00
Illinois Republican Party $217,206.30
House Republican Organization $15,047.71
House Republican Leadership Committee $56,637.83
Republican State Senate Campaign Committee $185,031.76
Total $5,648,388.97

In addition to the totals above 114th House District Republican candidate Bob Romanik has not yet filed his 12/31/16 quarterly report, as of 9/30 he had $2 million on hand. Taken together there is still another $39 million left in campaign accounts that could have been spent this cycle and will likely be used as a head start for next cycle.

 

Comptroller’s Race

2016 Comptroller’s Race Total Spend and In-Kind
Susana Mendoza $3,908,050.85
Leslie Munger $7,103,305.94
Total $11,011,356.79

The Comptroller’s race cost $11 million. This total does not include the $3 million that Munger transferred to the party. Had she held on to that money and spent it on her own campaign this race could have even been more expensive.

 

Methodology

If you’d like to view the raw data that was used to calculate the above totals and/or you would like to perform your own analysis you can do so here.

The main problem with trying to figure out how much money was raised or spent on legislative races in a given cycle has to do with the potential for double counting money that was moved within the system. For example, the Governor started the cycle with $20 million in his account, all of which he moved to the Illinois Republican party. In turn they either spent some of that on legislative races as independent expenditures, spent some of that on legislative races which were reported as in-kind contributions to the campaigns or transferred it to the caucus leadership committees (HRO and the RSSCC). Those caucus committees either spent some of that on legislative races which were reported as in-kind contributions to the campaigns or made direct transfers to the candidate committees and then those candidate committees spent that money on their races. If you’re not careful you could end up counting that same $20 million four times as it moved through the system and come up with $80 million when in reality it’s just the same $20 million.

In order to eliminate double counting you can look at only the candidate committees of legislative candidates and only the spending line item (not transfers out) and the in-kind totals. Remember, even though our D-2’s list in-kinds in the contribution section they are actually both a contribution and an expenditure. Add these up for all of the legislative candidate committees and you have your spending total.

You may be asking, what about all the money that the Governor had, or the state parties had, or the legislative leader committees had? For all of that money one of three things happened: 1) that ultimately got transferred down the chain to a candidate committee and the candidate committee spent those funds on their own race and is reflected in the totals above, 2) those party/leadership committees spent that money on behalf of a candidate committee and reported it to that candidate committee as an in-kind and then was reflected in the totals above or 3) those party/leadership committee spent it as an independent expenditure on behalf of a candidate committee and that spending is reflected in the totals above in the IE line item.

Now that the cycle is over just looking at the spending side allows us a much simpler method to determine the total amount of money involved without having to worry about double counting all the transfers of money.

Analysis: Precinct-level Vote Totals Now Available

Published on

The State Board of Elections made the precinct-level vote totals available late last week for the 2016 General Election and as promised I’ve compiled them, cleaned them up, made them available for download and incorporated them into my database. The full menu of options can be found here.

Having this granular data allows us to compile vote totals for any two areas that overlap. For example we can determine how each statewide candidate did by congressional or legislative district.

Note: these totals may differ from similar analysis performed elsewhere. Surprisingly enough, many districts only include partial precincts. Different methods for dealing with partial precincts can result in different totals.

 

In 2014 the Republican statewide candidates ran strong across the state, Rauner won 70 House districts, Topinka 69 and Cross 64. This cycle at the top of the ticket the Democrats came storming back with Clinton winning 77 of them while Duckworth won 74. As discussed in the post-mortem in some parts of downstate Trump’s intensity of support was off the charts, it just wasn’t broad enough to be felt throughout the state.

The Comptroller’s race was a bit more even, Mendoza and Munger each bested the other in 59 House districts despite Mendoza winning statewide by 5 points. The House Republicans picked up a net of four seats and overcame the poor showing at the top of the ticket but still underperformed Munger, only winning 51 House seats compared to 67 for the Democrats.

House Districts Won By: # Districts
House Democrats 67
Hillary Clinton 77
Tammy Duckworth 74
Susana Mendoza 59
House Districts Won By: # Districts
House Republicans 51
Donald Trump 41
Mark Kirk 44
Leslie Munger 59

Districts That Changed Hands

 

Let’s take a look at some of the districts that flipped this cycle. In many cases the legislative incumbents outperformed the top of their ticket, unfortunately for this group it wasn’t enough to hold onto their seats. There was a lot of ticket splitting going on though and in some cases there were very large discrepancies between what happened in the legislative race and the top of the ticket suggesting that voters were paying close attention and the campaign messages were getting through the clutter.

 

Sen-59   (R) Dale Fowler vs. (D) Gary Forby (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 10.4%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 40.74% R+ 5.5% R+ 23.45%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
R+ 11.56% R+ 30.97% R+ 6.01% D+ 12.05% R+ 7.35% R+ 24.91%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 20.15% D+ 18.2%

Gary Forby was 10 points short of holding a district that Donald Trump won by 41 points, that’s quite a headwind. Forby’s district wasn’t on the ballot two years ago when Rauner won it by 31 points but he did manage a big win in 2012 even with Romney besting Obama by 20 points. Munger did quite well here winning by 23 while Kirk managed to win by just 5.5 points. Perhaps as many as 17% of the voters in this district were Trump/Forby voters but it wasn’t enough.

 


 

Rep-71   (R) Tony McCombie vs. (D) Mike Smiddy (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 25.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 5.81% R+ 1.96% R+ 5.66%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 1.68% R+ 14.05% D+ 3.71% D+ 22.4% R+ 15.72% R+ 8% D+ 0.9%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 15% D+ 4.2%

Challenger Tony McCombie outperformed every other candidate here by a notable amount in defeating Mike Smiddy. In a district that Obama won by 15 points four years ago and that Rauner won by 14 points two years ago she won by 26 points in a year when Trump and Munger could only manage 6 point wins and Kirk managed a narrow 2 point victory. The voters seemed to really key in on this race at a much greater intensity than the others on the ballot this time.

 


 

Rep-63   (R) Steven Reick vs. (D) John Bartman   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 13.0%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 12.28% R+ 9.62% R+ 22.57%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 20.2% R+ 34.02% D+ 2.49% D+ 20.31% R+ 19.82% R+ 25.77% D+ 17.08%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 7.67% D+ 99.2%

When Jack Franks withdrew from this race to run for McHenry County Board Chairman (a race he ultimately won) it was going to be difficult for the Democrats to hold this seat and appointed replacement John Bartman could not, losing by 13 points which roughly mirrored the presidential race. As mentioned in the post-mortem Munger did much better in the collars than either of her two fellow Republican statewide candidates, 10 points better than Trump here and 13 points better than Kirk. Four years ago Romney won this district by almost 8 points, two years ago Rauner won it by 34, the Dems were just sunk without Franks.

 


 

Rep-79   (R) Lindsay Parkhurst vs. (D) Katherine Cloonen (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 7.4%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 12.84% R+ 3.14% R+ 14.31%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 6.72% R+ 22.2% D+ 13.3% D+ 26.36% R+ 14.1% R+ 8.82% D+ 0.38%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 1.03% D+ 0.2%

Cloonen won each of the last two cycles in what were essentially coin flips, races that were so close she won by about 100 votes each time. Two years ago Rauner won this district by 22 points suggesting that with enough investment it could be picked up, and it was Parkhurst won by 7. Four years ago Obama held Romney to a narrow 1 point victory here but in 2016 Trump won the district by 13 and Munger won it by 14. Cloonen was able to halve Munger’s margin but it wasn’t enough.

 


 

Rep-117   (R) David Severin vs. (D) John Bradley (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 5.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 42.9% R+ 6.04% R+ 24.72%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 14.48% R+ 32.09% R+ 6.69% D+ 11.93% R+ 5.32% R+ 25.51% D+ 99.38%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 22.07% D+ 33.3%

They share the same voters so just like Gary Forby mentioned above John Bradley ran into a massive headwind that he just couldn’t overcome. Four years ago Romney won this district by 22 points, two years ago Rauner won it by 32 suggesting that it was fertile ground for a pickup. Bradley lost by just 6 in a district that Trump won by 43 points and Munger won by 25. Perhaps as many as 21% of the voters here were Trump/Bradley voters but it wasn’t enough.

 


 

Rep-76   (R) Jerry Long vs. (D) Andy Skoog (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 1.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 9.49% D+ 2.43% R+ 5.18%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 3.89% R+ 9.5% D+ 10.71% D+ 30.66% R+ 5.25% R+ 6.46% D+ 0.98%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 6.08% D+ 26.2%

This area of the state appears to have settled into swing territory. Two years ago Jerry Long made a spirited challenge against long time incumbent Frank Mautino coming up just short. Mautino left the legislature to become Auditor General but the local papers were still regularly following the investigation into irregularities in his campaign fund. This time around Long was able to best Andy Skoog, Mautino’s appointed replacement, by just shy of 2 points in a year when Trump won it by 9 and Munger by 5 while Duckworth enjoyed a 2 point win for the Democrats. Obama won it four years ago by 6 while Rauner won by almost 10 two years ago. We’ll likely be keeping an eye on this area for the next few cycles.

 


 

Rep-112   (D) Katie Stuart vs. (R) Dwight Kay (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 3.2%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 5.53% D+ 9.4% R+ 0.75%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 4.48% R+ 20.63% R+ 2.02% D+ 11.68% R+ 15.98% R+ 12.2% R+ 17.48%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 0.1% R+ 0.6%

Two years ago Rauner won this district by over 20 points but in presidential election years this looks to be a swing district. Four years ago Dwight Kay was re-elected in a narrow victory in a year when the presidential race here was essentially a tie. This time around Katie Stuart picked up the district for the Democrats by 3 points while the three statewide races were kind of all over the place, Trump won by almost 6, Munger won by less than a point and Duckworth won by more than 9. Even aside from the three statewide races the Republicans still did well here, the Republicans picked up the County Board Chairman’s race from the incumbent Democrat and Mike Bost, Rodney Davis and John Shimkus all won the precincts they had in common with this district (Shimkus was unopposed). This area will almost certainly be heavily contested next cycle.

 

 

Targeted Districts Won by Incumbents

 

Here is a rundown of some of the Senate and House districts that were the focus of heavy spending where the incumbent retained the seat.

 

Sen-23   (R) Seth Lewis vs. (D) Thomas Cullerton (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 1.4%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 11.94% D+ 8.87% R+ 4.43%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
R+ 1.99% R+ 19.19% D+ 11.71% D+ 25.21% R+ 15.4% R+ 15.06%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 7.14% D+ 2.4%

Four years ago I was surprised when the Democrats won this mostly DuPage County senate district and now four years later Tom Cullerton has retained the seat. Seth Lewis outperformed the top of his ticket, losing by only a little over a point in a district where Clinton won by 12 and Duckworth by 9. It wasn’t all bad for the Republicans here, Munger won by over 4 but as we discussed in the post-mortem the power base of the Illinois Republican Party is moving from the collar counties to downstate so we’re going to be seeing race outcomes like this one in the suburbs for the next few cycles.

 


 

Sen-49   (R) Michelle Smith vs. (D) Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 5.4%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 10.29% D+ 10.26% R+ 0.03%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
D+ 0.59% R+ 13.73% D+ 14.6% D+ 26.88% R+ 11.12% R+ 22.19%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 7.3% D+ 6.4%

Four years ago Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant won this district by a little over 6 points and this year despite all the spending it didn’t change all that much, she won by a little over 5. Clinton and Duckworth won by more than 10, compared to just 7 points for Obama four years ago, while the Mendoza/Munger race was essentially a tie here. Rauner won this district by almost 14 two years ago but it isn’t on the ballot next cycle so the Republicans will have to wait for the year of Trump’s re-elect to make another attempt.

 


 

Sen-28   (R) Mel Thillens vs. (D) Laura Murphy (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 7.00%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 19.83% D+ 12.9% R+ 2.22%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
D+ 6.49% R+ 14.82% D+ 21.65% D+ 38.13% R+ 12.81% R+ 10.08%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 12.62% D+ 14.6%

Two years ago the Republicans did very well in this district, Rauner won by 15, Topinka by 13 and Cross by 10. However in presidential years this northwestern suburban district trends pretty Democratic. Laura Murphy, who was appointed to the seat when Dan Kotowski left, won her first chance at re-election by 7 points in a district Clinton won by 20, Duckworth won by 13 and Obama had won by 13. The lone bright spot for the Republicans was Munger edging Mendoza by 2.

 


 

Sen-31   (R) Mike Amrozowicz vs. (D) Melinda Bush (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 8.2%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 12.8% D+ 5.95% R+ 3.76%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS
R+ 2.8% R+ 18.68% D+ 14.64% D+ 26.42% R+ 13.26% R+ 13.34%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 6.86% D+ 2.8%

Four years ago Melinda Bush won a relatively narrow 3 point victory, this time around she won by a more comfortable 8. Clinton won this far north Lake County district by 13 while Duckworth won by just 6 and Munger won by almost 4. Two years ago Rauner won this district by almost 19 points but it is not on the ballot next cycle so the Republicans will have to wait four years for another shot at it.

 


 

Rep-20   (D) Merry Marwig vs. (R) Michael McAuliffe (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 12.2%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 8.3% D+ 5.76% R+ 5.3%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 7.85% R+ 5.89% D+ 22.95% D+ 40.45% R+ 15.71% R+ 6.21% R+ 24.9%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 7.1% R+ 21.2%

This was the most expensive race this cycle, much of it coming from the Republicans and much of that coming early as McAuliffe was up on Chicago broadcast TV in August during the Olympics, something completely unheard of for a legislative race. In the end McAuliffe overperformed all of the other Republicans winning by 12 in a district Trump lost by 8, Kirk lost by 6 and Munger only won by 5. Even in the wave Republican election year of two years ago Rauner only won this district by 6, although Topinka did win it by 16. It’s a district that favors moderate Republicans.

 


 

Rep-45   (D) Cynthia Borbas vs. (R) Christine Winger (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 6.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 2.46% R+ 1.21% R+ 14.89%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 9.63% R+ 28.01% D+ 4.21% D+ 18.83% R+ 21.95% R+ 23.23% R+ 8.88%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 2.12% R+ 10.8%

As the collars have been trending toward the Democrats this east-central DuPage district was one they hoped to put in play, but it’s not quite there. Two years ago Rauner won this district by 28 points but Romney won it by just 2 in 2012 and Clinton won it by 2 this time. Christine Winger won it by a comfortable 7 and Munger won by 15 so it’s still a Republican district for competitively contested elections. This may not be a district to keep an eye on two years from now but it seems likely it will be worth paying attention to in four years.

 


 

Rep-81   (D) Greg Hose vs. (R) David Olsen   (Map)

2016 RACE
R+ 6.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 15.97% D+ 3.68% R+ 12.21%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 2.92% R+ 22.9% D+ 8.68% D+ 24.18% R+ 19.88% R+ 20.1% R+ 19.98%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 1.67% R+ 100%

This is another one of those DuPage districts that could potentially be a swing district in four years but wasn’t there this cycle. Four years ago Obama won it by less than two points while this cycle Clinton won it by 16 and Duckworth by 4 while Munger still prevailed by 12. David Olsen, appointed to the seat when Ron Sandack stepped down, managed a comfortable 7 point win.

 


 

Rep-118   (R) Jason Kasiar vs. (D) Brandon Phelps (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 16.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 38.56% R+ 4.91% R+ 22.17%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
R+ 8.58% R+ 30.01% R+ 5.31% D+ 12.33% R+ 9.27% R+ 24.34% D+ 99.74%
12 PRES 12 GA
R+ 18.17% D+ 100%

Brandon Phelps hasn’t has a Republican opponent in either of the two previous cycles under this map but during that time Republican statewide candidates have been running up big numbers in this district. Romney won it by 18, Rauner by 30 and Cross by 24. However Phelps, the nephew of popular former congressman David Phelps, maintains a similar local popularity winning this district by 17 points even though Trump won it by 39 and Munger by 22. Perhaps as many as 30% of the voters in this district were Trump/Phelps voters. This district is adjacent to the district John Bradley just lost and those two House districts make up the Senate district that Gary Forby just lost, this area is trending Republican rather rapidly but so far Phelps has been able to weather the storm. This area will likely be a focal point in 2018.

 


 

Rep-46   (R) Heidi Holan vs. (D) Deborah Conroy (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 18.00%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 23.44% D+ 21.11% D+ 8.3%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 7.99% R+ 7.66% D+ 21.56% D+ 33.59% R+ 6.79% R+ 4.42% D+ 5.06%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 18.75% D+ 15.4%

This DuPage County district makes up half of Tom Cullerton’s senate district and just as Cullerton did Deb Conroy was able to retain the seat. Two years ago Conroy defeated Heidi Holan by 5 points even while Rauner won it by 8, Topinka by 7 and Cross by 4. This time around in a rematch against Holan Conroy won it by 18, which was somewhat similar to her 15 point margin in 2012. This district has been reliably Democratic in presidential years, Obama won it by 19, Clinton by 23, Duckworth by 21 and Mendoza by 8. The Democrats appear to have a beachhead in this part of DuPage County.

 


 

Rep-111   (R) Mike Babcock vs. (D) Daniel Beiser (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 5.2%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
R+ 16.26% D+ 10.96% D+ 0.94%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 1.14% R+ 16.52% D+ 2.85% D+ 19.11% R+ 9.83% R+ 5.06% D+ 100%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 5.18% D+ 17%

This district is adjacent to the district that Katie Stuart picked up for the Democrats from Dwight Kay and those two districts combine to form the senate district held by Bill Haine who was surprisingly unopposed this cycle. The Republicans put a surprising amount of money in this race, perhaps for good reason, Rauner won it by 17, Topinka by 10, Cross by 5 and this cycle Trump won it by 16. Despite all of that Dan Beiser won a rather comfortable 5 point race while Duckworth won by 11 and Mendoza narrowly edged Munger by a point. This looks like one of those areas where Trump was a strength but he didn’t have much coattails, we’ll see what happens in this district in 2018.

 


 

Rep-62   (R) Rod Drobinski vs. (D) Sam Yingling (i)   (Map)

2016 RACE
D+ 4.8%
16 PRES 16 US SEN 16 COMP
D+ 16.23% D+ 8.89% R+ 2.44%
14 US SEN 14 GOV 14 AG 14 SOS 14 COMP 14 TREAS 14 GA
D+ 0.79% R+ 15.94% D+ 16.75% D+ 29.9% R+ 11.98% R+ 11.23% D+ 4.2%
12 PRES 12 GA
D+ 11.18% D+ 10.6%

Despite all of the heavy spending in this race the final margin wasn’t much different from two years ago when these two candidates faced off, 4.8 points this year vs. 4.2 points in 2014. Two years ago Yingling won despite a strong showing from the Republicans, Rauner won it by 16, Topinka by 12 and Cross by 11 but in presidential election years the Democrats have done well here, Obama won it by 12, Clinton by 16 and Duckworth by 9. Munger did manage to win it by 2 and it seems likely that the Republicans will be back again in 2018 for another try.

 

Illinois Senate Seats Up in 2018

Published on

It’s way too early for this so no analysis, I just wanted to post this somewhere I could find it later. These are the seats that will be up in the Illinois Senate next cycle, 21 of 37 Democrats and 18 of 22 Republicans.

2 – Omar Aquino (D)
3 – Mattie Hunter (D)
5 – Patricia Van Pelt (D)
6 – John J. Cullerton (D)
8 – Ira I. Silverstein (D)
9 – Daniel Biss (D)
11 – Martin A. Sandoval (D)
12 – Steven M. Landek (D)
14 – Emil Jones, III (D)
15 – Napoleon Harris, III (D)
17 – Donne E. Trotter (D)
18 – Bill Cunningham (D)
20 – Iris Y. Martinez (D)
21 – Michael Connelly (R)
23 – Thomas Cullerton (D)
24 – Chris Nybo (R)
26 – Dan McConchie (R)
27 – Tom Rooney (R)
29 – Julie A. Morrison (D)
30 – Terry Link (D)
32 – Pamela J. Althoff (R)
33 – Karen McConnaughay (R)
35 – Dave Syverson (R)
36 – Neil Anderson (R)
38 – Sue Rezin (R)
39 – Don Harmon (D)
41 – Christine Radogno (R)
42 – Linda Holmes (D)
44 – William Brady (R)
45 – Tim Bivins (R)
47 – Jil Tracy (R)
48 – Andy Manar (D)
50 – Sam McCann (R)
51 – Chapin Rose (R)
53 – Jason A. Barickman (R)
54 – Kyle McCarter (R)
56 – William R. Haine (D)
57 – James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D)
59 – Dale Fowler (R)

2016 General Election Post-Mortem

Published on

I’ve been busy catching up on all of the things I put off until after the election so here’s a very belated post-mortem.

Note: the vote totals are not yet final and certified, those numbers will change. The numbers shown here are for 100% of precincts reporting on election night and do not yet include any ballots counted post-election night.

 

President

The Democrats swept the three statewide races and of the three Hillary Clinton won by the largest margin, 16.5 points (compared to about 15 points for Duckworth and about 4.5 for Mendoza), and had the most total votes. Of the three Democratic candidates Clinton may have had the most paid media even if it wasn’t paid for by her campaign directly, Leading Illinois for Tomorrow (LIFT), a federal superpac, spent roughly $9 million on ads that were ostensibly designed to drive up Governor Rauner’s negatives but mostly just functioned as Trump attack ads (see here and here, for example).

In the Chicagoland region her numbers were historically strong. In Chicago she basically matched Obama’s 2012 numbers and wasn’t far off his 2008 totals. In the Cook County suburbs she was even better than Obama’s 2012 numbers and far ahead of Kerry 2004 and Gore 2000. She won the collars outright and again bested Obama 2012, Kerry 2004 and Gore 2000.

 
Region Clinton 14 Quinn 12 Obama 08 Obama 04 Kerry 00 Gore
Cook County 74.65% 64.74% 74.01% 76.21% 70.25% 68.63%
___Chicago 83.71% 77.35% 84.00% 85.41% 81.28% 80.14%
___Cook Burbs 65.38% 52.75% 63.82% 66.64% 58.97% 56.44%
Collars 52.30% 37.91% 50.53% 55.79% 45.46% 43.92%
Downstate 37.86% 33.93% 45.33% 51.00% 44.75% 46.39%
TOTAL 55.70% 46.35% 57.60% 61.92% 54.82% 54.60%
 

The Trump Vote

Outside the Chicagoland area it was a different story. Trump won the 90 counties outside the Chicago media market roughly 57-37, some in historically commanding fashion. Looking at the vote totals by media market what’s strange is that down the middle Trump’s numbers were downright ordinary. In the Rockford, Peoria and Champaign/Springfield/Decatur media markets his vote totals were very similar to Romney 2012 and all lagged Bush 2004 and espeically Rauner 2014. Yet in the remaining media markets Trump’s numbers blew away the other Republican presidential candidates this century and either rivaled or surpassed Rauner’s 2014 numbers. Remember, Rauner won the state by 4 points (with very impressive downstate numbers) and Trump lost it by more than 16 so to rival or surpass Rauner’s performance in these areas was no small feat for Trump.

 
MM Trump 14 Rauner 12 Romney 08 McCain 04 Bush 00 Bush
C/S/D 55.75% 61.77% 55.13% 49.09% 57.59% 52.94%
Chicago 30.57% 44.85% 34.75% 31.49% 39.35% 38.30%
Evansville 79.26% 76.33% 70.46% 58.08% 66.91% 61.75%
Paducah 66.03% 61.67% 57.32% 51.78% 55.90% 49.48%
Peoria 53.39% 59.87% 53.88% 48.37% 55.47% 52.60%
Quad Cities 50.64% 55.34% 42.87% 41.20% 47.86% 44.35%
Quincy 68.40% 70.41% 60.95% 55.52% 60.96% 55.03%
Rockford 51.49% 59.39% 49.10% 45.32% 53.57% 52.14%
St. Louis 57.29% 59.79% 50.70% 44.83% 49.81% 46.37%
Terre Haute 74.52% 70.78% 66.33% 55.40% 64.61% 59.56%
TOTAL 39.13% 50.27% 40.73% 36.78% 44.48% 42.58%

We have good data on total media buy spending for each campaign but the data I wish I really had but don’t is the spending for each campaign media buy by media market. I can tell you from my past experience working on statewide campaigns when we went up on TV the first markets we bought downstate were the three down the middle (Rockford, Peoria and Champaign/Springfield/Decatur) because they are entirely within the state so those buys/markets were more efficient than the rest which include viewers in other states. I suspect the reason that Trump’s numbers down the middle were so pedestrian has to do with media buys. If we had the LIFT spending by media market perhaps we’d find that the bulk of their spending was in Chicago and these three downstate media markets while neglecting the rest, or perhaps some other media buy explanation holds the key, but I’d bet the reason has to do with paid advertising.

 

US Senate

Here’s what I wrote in my What to Watch For post on election day:

Downstate – In 2010 the downstate 96 counties were especially strong for the Republicans. Kirk and Brady both got 59% of the vote. The Democrats rebounded in 2012, Romney only got about 53% of the vote there, but the Republicans came back strong in 2014 when Rauner took 61%. Can Kirk replicate the downstate Republican performance of 2010 and 2014 or will the Democrats improve as they did in 2012?

Suburbs (especially the northern ones) – in 2010 Kirk won his race by about a point and a half and Brady lost to Quinn by about half a point. Most of the difference came in the Cook County suburbs and the collars and most of that difference came in the northern end. Kirk had represented the north shore in Congress and those voters rewarded him in his Senate race. Kirk did about three and a half points better than Brady in the 5 traditional collar counties combined but it was even more pronounced in Lake County where the difference was six and a half points (56.6% to 50.1%). He’s going to need to run just as strong in Lake County again to help his chances.

Kirk just couldn’t match his 2010 performance this time around, he even lost his stronghold of Lake County 50-45 and the bottom fell out just about everywhere. He did about 7 points worse downstate, 10 points worse in the Cook County suburbs and 11 points worse in the collars.

 
Region 16 Kirk 10 Kirk
Cook County 24.94% 31.63%
___Chicago 16.35% 19.47%
___Cook Burbs 33.68% 43.47%
Collars 45.48% 56.24%
Downstate 52.09% 59.02%
TOTAL 39.97% 48.01%
 

Comptroller

Susana Mendoza scored an impressive victory against a much better funded incumbent which may add a new variable to an otherwise unchanging Springfield budget battle, but it’s worth noting that while losing Leslie Munger still outperformed the top of her ticket by about 12 points.

 
Region Munger Trump Kirk 14 Rauner
Cook County 29.12% 21.16% 24.94% 33.26%
___Chicago 19.10% 12.47% 16.35% 20.63%
___Cook Burbs 39.27% 30.05% 33.68% 45.32%
Collars 51.56% 41.76% 45.48% 59.51%
Downstate 56.12% 56.45% 52.09% 60.81%
TOTAL 44.62% 39.13% 39.97% 50.27%

For all the talk of how impressive Trump’s downstate numbers were (see above from me for example) Munger actually matched his performance in the downstate 96 counties. It was in the Chicagoland area that she did notably better than the top of her ticket, she ran 7 points better than Trump in Chicago, 9 points better in the Cook County suburbs and 10 points better in the collars. But in the end it wasn’t enough, you can see that she just wasn’t able to approach the numbers of Rauner’s winning 2014 coalition.

 

Illinois Legislative Elections

In 2014 both Rauner and Topinka won by about 4 points and in the process Rauner got more votes than Quinn in 70 state house districts while Topinka got more votes than Simon in 69 state house districts. Tom Cross lost to Mike Frerichs by about a quarter of a point and still managed to get the most votes in 64 state house districts, even Jim Oberweis won 51 state house districts while losing to Dick Durbin by 10 points yet the House Republicans only held 47 seats.

Clearly in 2014 the House Republicans significantly underperformed their available political potential. With a massive investment of financial resources from the Governor and his wealthy allies the Republicans appeared poised to pick up a number of seats and move closer to realizing their potential. The open question was just how many, afterall 2014 was a national wave election for Republicans while 2016 was a mixed bag nationally and a strong Democratic year for Illinois statewide candidates. In the end the Republicans won 7 races and lost one. Some were low hanging fruit, they picked up retiring Sen. Sullivan’s seat uncontested, they also won the seats previously held by Sen. Forby, Rep. Franks and Rep. Bradley, all seats that Rauner had won by more than 30 points just two years ago. They picked up Kate Cloonen’s seat, she had won her last two races by 91 and 122 total votes, and this time around the Republicans had enough resources to make the difference winning by more than 7 points. Two years ago Jerry Long came within a point of upsetting Frank Mautino and this time around Long was able to beat his appointed replacement, Andy Skoog, by about a point. And the most impressive pickup came in northwest Illinois where Tony McCombie beat Mike Smiddy by about 25 points in a district Rauner only won by 14.

The end result was a net Republican pickup of 4 seats in the house reducing the Democratic majority to 67-51 and 2 in the senate reducing the Democratic majority to 37-22, which is still a supermajority in the senate.

 

Mike McAuliffe

The most impressive legislative victory wasn’t a pickup, it was in the 20th House where Mike McAuliffe retained his seat by 12 points against a strong challenge from Merry Marwig. The spending in this race was unprecedented, McAuliffe was up on Chicago broadcast television in late August, unheard of for a state house race. It was an expensive retention but the margin was significant. McAuliffe actually did about 4.5 points better in the Chicago part of the district than the suburban part. And then there’s this, these are the two precincts in Rosemont:

 
Precinct McAuliffe % Marwig % Total
Leyden 12 621 82.91% 128 17.09% 749
Leyden 38 176 67.18% 86 32.82% 262
  797 78.83% 214 21.17% 1011

That’s almost 600 votes of margin in just two precincts.

 

Tom Cullerton

The other impressive retention happened on the Democratic side in the senate where Tom Cullerton appears to have narrowly retained his seat despite a heavy challenge from Seth Lewis. It wasn’t that long ago that suggesting Democrats could compete in DuPage County would get you laughed out of the room yet both Tom Cullerton in the Senate and Deb Conroy in the House have been able to win seats in this Republican stronghold and retain them.

 

Dwight Kay

Democrats had an impressive pickup as well beating Dwight Kay in the Metro East. Katie Stuart managed to upset the incumbent in this Madison County district despite the fact that Trump won the county by 16 points and incumbent Democratic County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan was defeated.

 

 

Other Observations

 

Southern Illinois

Take a look at this map of four state house districts under the previous map (2002-2011):

In the upper right district that goes from Effingham to Carmi it was once represented by Chuck Hartke, the district just west of that that includes Centralia and Mt. Vernon was once represented by Kurt Granberg. Just south of Granberg is John Bradley’s district and just south of him is Brandon Phelps district. Once the Democrats lost the Hartke and Granberg districts those districts stayed Republican, the current map changed those two districts a bit but the Democrats don’t really compete there anymore. The Bradley and Phelps districts are basically the same as the previous map but they have been trying to hang on in the face of this evolution taking place in southern Illinois. In 1994 when Jim Edgar beat Dawn Clark Netsch she lost all but one county and it wasn’t Cook, it was Gallatin County in Southern Illinois. This year Trump won Gallatin county 72-24.

(For more on the changing political dynamic in both southern Illinois and the suburbs check out Charlie Wheeler’s take in Illinois Issues.)

This cycle the Republicans beat John Bradley and Gary Forby (Forby’s senate district is the combination of Bradley and Phelps). Rauner won all three of these districts by more than 30 points two years ago. Phelps managed to win his seat by about 16 points but the trend suggests that his district will be a target in future cycles. Not shown in the picture above but just to the west of these districts is the seat held by Jerry Costello Jr., a district that Rauner also won by more than 30 points. Costello was unopposed this cycle and was unopposed in 2014. Southern Illinois will be worth keeping an eye on in 2018.

 

Collar Counties

Of the five traditional collar counties only McHenry County remains reliably Republican in presidential election years (and even the McHenry County Board Chairman’s race went Democratic this year when Jack Franks won it). Clinton, Duckworth, Obama 2012 and Obama 2008 all won DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will. As Charlie Wheeler pointed out in the article I linked to above the base of the Illinois Republican party is moving from the suburbs to downstate.

 
County Clinton Duckworth Mendoza Obama 12 Obama 08
DuPage 53.88% 48.86% 41.36% 49.73% 54.72%
Kane 51.36% 48.32% 42.20% 49.73% 55.23%
Lake 57.29% 50.04% 44.88% 53.48% 59.26%
McHenry 42.69% 41.39% 35.02% 44.68% 51.91%
Will 50.25% 50.89% 45.08% 52.00% 56.00%
 

Chekhov’s Gun

This cycle had two large infusions of cash. In the 114th House outspoken Republican candidate Bob Romanik loaned his campaign $2 million and he promised to use those funds to both win the E. St. Louis-based state house seat and to help other local candidates upend the local power dynamic. Despite those assertions it doesn’t appear that Romanik pulled the trigger on that spending, he lost his house race by about 14 points and no other candidates reported receiving donations from him (traditional or in-kind) and he didn’t report making any independent expenditures. For more background on Romanik scroll down to the St. Clair county section here.

The other large infusion of cash came on New Year’s Eve 2014 when Bruce Rauner replenished his depleted campaign fund with $20 million and promised to spend that money to help his legislative allies who stuck with him on tough votes. As I pointed out back in August he kept that promise.

 

End of Campaign Finance Limits

Last, Illinois campaign contribution limits are now functionally dead. The laws remain on the books and the campaigns and committees will still have to take the legal steps to circumvent them but the participants are no longer trying to abide by the spirit of the law and with that damn now broke the limits are now just a nuisance rather than a deterrent. Even for proponents of campaign contribution limits lifting the limits wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, that’s what evened the playing field when either significant outside money or candidate personal/family funds entered the race. However limit proponents had hoped that public shaming would prevent committees from lifting the limits solely for the sake of lifting them, but that’s exactly what happened and there was no public outcry. Meanwhile the Democrats learned how to circumvent the limits without having to lift them, creating numerous entryways by co-opting a significant number of the candidate committees in their caucus and then moving the money around as needed.

I remain skeptical that while Supreme Court rulings enabling unlimited personal spending and unlimited outside uncoordinated spending are the law of the land Illinois can enact campaign contribution limits that are both effective and fair but for this next cycle it’s probably a moot point. We’re unlikely to see any significant changes to campaign finance law, what changes are there that a) the Democrats would want to have pass both chambers and b) that the Governor would want to sign that would effectively limit the resources each wants and needs to fight the other in this upcoming election?

 

What to Watch For

Published on

These links will have all my live data tonight:

Statewide Races
IL – President
IL – US Senate
IL – Comptroller
General Assembly Races
Illinois State Senate
Illinois State House
 

What to Watch For

 

Final Early and Vote By Mail Totals

Total Vote By Mail Applications: 493,333
Total VBM Ballots Returned: 352,428
Return Rate: 71%
Total Early Voters: 1,390,019
Total Grace Period Voters: 44,722
   
Total Already Voted: 1,787,169
Total VBM Ballots Outstanding: 140,905

With 140,905 outstanding vote by mail ballots any statewide race closer than that could still be affected by late arriving mail ballots. Also, keep in mind that the election authorities are no longer able to count the votes they already have, the early and mail votes, prior to the polls closing on election night. They used to get a head start counting those votes prior to 7pm, the Attorney General clarified that they cannot do that so in some of these jurisdictions those votes will get counted on election night along with the in-precinct votes and in others those votes will be counted tomorrow or in the following few days.

 

National

This seems like Trump’s most plausible path to 270, it involves winning all of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Arizona and Iowa, plus the available congressional districts in Maine and Nebraska. The eastern timezone states will probably tell us a lot early in the night.

If Trump is doing well he’ll be in a position to win in FL, OH, NC and NH and will be competitive in MI and PA. If Trump wins either of MI or PA a number of paths open up, otherwise he pretty much has to run the table in the swing states.

If Clinton is doing well she’ll be winning MI and PA and possibly NH. If she wins all three she probably wins (although she could substitute Nevada for New Hampshire later in the night too), if she wins any of FL, NC or OH it’s hard to find a path for Trump and she probably has it locked down.

 

US Senate – Illinois

The best benchmark for this race is Kirk’s last victory in 2010. That year was a strong Republican year while this year is not expected to be. Here are two things to keep an eye on.

Downstate – In 2010 the downstate 96 counties were especially strong for the Republicans. Kirk and Brady both got 59% of the vote. The Democrats rebounded in 2012, Romney only got about 53% of the vote there, but the Republicans came back strong in 2014 when Rauner took 61%. Can Kirk replicate the downstate Republican performance of 2010 and 2014 or will the Democrats improve as they did in 2012?

On the Democratic side there is some evidence to suggest that 2010 and 2014 were historically bad. In 2010 Quinn and Giannoulias both took 34% in the downstate 96 counties, same with Quinn in 2014. Even Carol Moseley-Braun took 37% in 1998 and Blagojevich got 40% in his 2006 re-elect, both were thought to be unpopular downstate. In 2004 Kerry took 45% and in 2000 Gore got 46%. The downstate 96 counties will probably make up about 38% of the total statewide vote so Duckworth doesn’t necessarily need to hit the high water marks here, she just has to be better than the atrocious Democratic years of 2010 and 2014.

Suburbs (especially the northern ones) – in 2010 Kirk won his race by about a point and a half and Brady lost to Quinn by about half a point. Most of the difference came in the Cook County suburbs and the collars and most of that difference came in the northern end. Kirk had represented the north shore in Congress and those voters rewarded him in his Senate race. Kirk did about three and a half points better than Brady in the 5 traditional collar counties combined but it was even more pronounced in Lake County where the difference was six and a half points (56.6% to 50.1%). He’s going to need to run just as strong in Lake County again to help his chances.

Tonight we won’t have the township by township results in Cook County (I don’t expect, they usually aren’t available until morning) but we will have the results in the Cook County suburbs overall. Six years ago Kirk ran four points better than Brady (43.5% to 39.5%), he’s going to need to do something similar to help his chances.

 

Comptroller

We haven’t had much polling in this race, at least not recently, so I don’t know what to make of this race. The external factors certainly favor the Democrats but the spending favored Munger. I’ll probably keep an eye on this race relative to the 2014 State Treasurer’s race where Frerichs just barely edged Cross.

The other thing to keep an eye on will be the totals by media market. Both candidates have been on TV but Munger has had more money to spend. It will be interesting to see if there were media markets where she was on TV and Mendoza wasn’t and if that shows up in the vote totals.

 

Housekeeping

I’m going to turn off the system that runs live totals for all of the General Assembly races, each time those pages load the server runs all the calculations to pull the live totals. I want to keep the demand on the server light tonight so you can find a static copy of those current totals HERE.

Election Night Live Results

Published on

Here are links to the pages that I plan to have live on election night:

Statewide Races
IL – President
IL – US Senate
IL – Comptroller
General Assembly Races
Illinois State Senate
Illinois State House

The election night vote totals found on most media organization websites come from the AP. Illinois has 109 election authorities and each report their own vote totals independently, the AP has people gathering those totals from each authority and then providing the aggregate totals for each race. It is a massive and impressive service they perform.

For a number of years now I have wanted to buy access to that data but I cannot. It’s not that I can’t afford it, I always figured that whatever the price I could probably raise enough in sponsor money to meet the amount necessary but the AP just won’t let me. They told me that they only sell access to their election night vote total data to news organizations and since I was not a news organization it was out of the question. I sent a snide response which made me feel better but doesn’t change the outcome.

My only two options are: 1) round up enough volunteers to manually enter vote totals from every county all night, something I did in the 2014 primary but which I don’t have the means to do again or 2) find the data I need from a news organization and then copy/paste that someplace where I can reformat it and run calculations on the totals, something I was able to do on general election night in 2014.

I’ve long been frustrated that on election night you can usually learn little more than who is currently leading and how many precincts have reported. Everyone has the same obvious follow up questions: 1) of the vote that has not yet been reported where is it and 2) of the vote that has not yet been reported who does it favor, by how much and is that enough to close the gap for the candidate that is behind? It’s very rare that anyone attempts to answer those questions even if/when they have the means to do so and it’s something I’d like to do.

If I can somehow find the county by county data I need on Tuesday night and figure out how to copy/paste it into my database that’s exactly what I plan to do for the three statewide races (IL-President, IL-US Senate, IL-Comptroller). For the Illinois State House and State Senate races if I can figure out how to copy/paste those raw vote totals for each race into my database I’ll have a tracker for each chamber that not only shows who is winning and by how much but also how each race affects the overall partisan makeup of each chamber.

The statewide race trackers include both county by county raw vote total as well as projected vote totals. You can find the results broken down by media market and region as well as all of the historical vote totals for each. The General Assembly results pages include a breakdown of of how many seats each party has won or is winning, how many of those wins are pickups and the current and new makeup of each chamber. It also has the races ranked by how much money was spent in each, the most expensive races are likely to be the ones that are the most competitive so that the races getting the most attention are likely to be near each other visually on the page, which will hopefully save some of that annoying scrolling up and down the page we always have to do on election night.

If you are a media organization preparing your election night coverage and you see anything here that you would like to incorporate or would find useful please take it, it’s yours. If there is any information or calculations you have questions about please ask, glad to help. If you would like to return the favor by making the information I need available and showing me the format in advance I would greatly appreciate it. I always spend the 7pm hour scrambling to try to find the data I need and then get the copy/paste and calculations set up because I never know how things are going to look. Any time spent searching and coding is time that can’t be spent analyzing and it’s always a fire drill.

Hopefully I can get the data I need into my database and these trackers will prove pretty useful. If not, I tried, we’re entirely at the mercy of others here.

How the Money Moves, Part 3

Published on

In yesterday’s installment, How the Money Moves, Part 2, the last thing I wrote was “Also, it’s unlikely that this is our last unexpected development before the election. Stay tuned.” It took less than 20 minutes for that to come true.

Last night the Governor’s Independent Expenditure committee, Turnaround Illinois, filed a B-1 disclosing independent expenditures totaling $101,843.15 for radio ads supporting House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who is unopposed this fall. When an IE committee makes independent expenditures supporting or opposing a candidate in a race in amounts greater than certain limits ($250,000 for a statewide race, $100,000 for all other races) the contribution limits are lifted for all candidates in that race. Section 5/9-8.5 (h-5) and (h-10) of the election code govern this process, neither specify that an opponent is necessary in order to lift the caps and I could find no other section of the election code that made an opponent a requirement to lift the caps. It appears that even though Leader Durkin is unopposed, this action will lift the caps in his race and his campaign committee will be able to raise unlimited funds for the rest of the year. As we’ve mentioned before in a general election candidate committees are allowed to make unlimited transfers to party committees who can then make unlimited transfers to candidate committees so leader Durkin will be able to transfer unlimited amounts to either the Illinois Republican Party or the House Republican Organization (HRO is registerd as a party committee) who can then spend or transfer that money in unlimited amounts on other legislative races as they wish.

Turnaround Illinois was created in April of 2015 by the Governor and his allies. Its chairperson is the CFO from the Governor’s campaign and its treasurer is his campaign’s chief legal counsel. Since inception the committee has raised $6.25 million, $4 million from former Chicago Tribune owner Sam Zell and $2.25 million from Bruce Rauner’s personal funds. The Governor spent the last few months touring the state in support of term limits which was accompanied by a television campaign, those TV ads were paid for by the Turnaround Illinois independent expenditure committee.

If the sole intention here was to lift the contribution limits for Leader Durkin they chose the more expensive of two available routes. The caps can be lifted either due to independent expenditure spending or self funding, Leader Durkin could have loaned his campaign $100,000 and then paid it back the very next day and those actions would have been sufficient to lift the caps in this race. However in this instance Turnaround Illinois spent $100,000 on radio ads supporting Leader Durkin, who is unopposed, so that $100,000 spent will likely have very little ancillary benefit.

This may be the most direct example to circumvent the contribution limits so far but it’s probably not the strangest. In the 2015 Chicago Mayor’s race William Kelly loaned himself $100,000 and filed a Notification of Self Funding which lifted the caps for the Mayor’s race, but then he never even filed the paperwork to run for Mayor so the caps were lifted for a race he didn’t even officially participate in.

If the contribution limits are lifted for Leader Durkin’s campaign committee his would be the only one of the four legislative leaders’ campaign committees that can raise unlimited funds, but this isn’t the first time that has happened either. During the 2016 Democratic primary Speaker Madigan had three opponents for his 22nd district House seat. Former 2004 Democratic US Senate candidate Blair Hull and some of his wealthy allies funded an IE committee Illinois United for Change and that committee eventually made more than $100,000 in independent expenditures opposing Mike Madigan or supporting Jason Gonzales (their preferred candidate) and for the final two weeks of the primary Speaker Madigan’s campaign committee, Friends of Michael J. Madigan, was legally allowed to accept unlimited contributions. The odd thing is that during those two weeks the Speaker did not receive any contributions that were above the standard contribution limits.

Update: The contribution limits for Leader Durkin have been officially lifted.

 

Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is

Published on

On New Year’s Eve 2014, after winning election but prior to taking office, then Governor-elect Rauner replenished his nearly depleted candidate committee, Citizens for Rauner, with $20 million. The Governor put in $10 million of his own money and also received contributions of $8 million from Ken Griffin and $2 million from Richard Uihlein. Here is what one Rauner advisor told Crain’s Greg Hinz at the time:

“There are a lot of legislators who he is going to be asking to make a lot of tough decisions,” said one Rauner insider who asked not to be named. “The intent is to build a large and effective political operation in order to pursue his agenda.” Some of the money may be donated directly to legislators’ campaign committees and other funds spent on their behalf. TV ads, polling and other activity on behalf of Rauner policies also is expected, the insider said. And the war chest only is “the first in a series,” part of a “multipronged effort” in which other funding vehicles will be formed, the source said. “This is the tip of the iceberg.”

Since that time the Governor has personally contributed another $2.75 million to his campaign fund and with an expected contested re-election campaign looming many wondered just how much of that money he would spend on General Assembly races versus how much he would save for 2018. It’s only August but the answer is already clear, the Governor will spend most or possibly all of that money to help elect fellow Republicans.

Because of campaign finance limits the Governor’s campaign committee cannot transfer unlimited sums to Republican General Assembly candidates directly, however during a general election candidate committees, such as Citizens for Rauner, are allowed to make unlimited transfers to party committees, such as the Illinois Republican Party, and Rauner has done just that. Yesterday Citizens for Rauner transferred another $5 million to the Illinois Republican Party bringing the total to just over $16 million for the 2016 cycle. Rauner’s campaign committee, which started 2015 with about $20 million in the bank is now down to just around $5 million remaining. It’s probably a sign of the times and the record amounts of money involved that we can casually use the phrase “just around $5 million remaining”.

And while the Illinois Republican Party has spent some of that money directly, for example they’ve had about a half million in in-kinds and about $1.4 million in independent expenditures for Republican candidates this cycle, most of the money is being transferred to the two General Assembly Republican leadership committees: the House Republican Organization (HRO) and the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee (RSSCC). Already HRO has received a little over $9 million from the Illinois Republican Party and just this morning the RSSCC received another $500K bringing their cycle total to about $1.7 million. So between in-kinds, independent expenditures and transfers to the two leadership committees the state party has already moved or spent $12.6 million of the $16 million they’ve received from Rauner, and remember the most recent transfer of $5 million from the Governor to the state party happened just yesterday.

Campaign funds are not the Governor’s only contribution to this effort. The Governor has promised the “biggest ground game ever” for legislative races this fall. Back in May the Governor personally paid $200K to Crowdskout, LLC, a data management and marketing platform. This expenditure was likely for a data enhancement on the Republican voterfile to allow for greater voter demographic targeting, something the Democrats and the Obama campaign in particular had received extensive attention for in the past.

On a number of occasions the Governor has promised to transform the party and make Illinois Republicans competitive again but oddly enough the other day when asked about his significant contributions this cycle and his involvement in winning more seats for Republicans in the General Assembly he told reporters “I’m not too involved in local races.” The Governor’s occasional odd comment notwithstanding, he promised to contribute significant resources for party building and so far he’s kept that commitment.

 

General Election Filing Roundup

Published on

Most candidates qualify for the general election ballot by winning the primary but in races where no candidate filed and won a primary the party chairmen can appoint a candidate to fill the vacancy. Those appointed candidates still have to go get petition signatures so it’s not a labor free process, established party candidates for the House need 500 signatures and 1,000 for the Senate, but it’s a far cry from the almost 600,000 signatures the Independent Maps group just turned in so it’s not overly difficult either. The deadline for established political parties (Democrat, Republican) to appoint candidates and file their candidate paperwork was yesterday May 31st.

While budget and end of session news dominated the day, and rightfully so, the most surprising development of filing day was just how few new candidates filed. Only one new Senate Republican candidate filed and that was in the 22nd for the open seat to replace Mike Noland. The House Republicans had two new candidates file, one in the 111th to take on Dan Beiser and one in the 43rd to take on Anna Moeller. Surprisingly no Republicans filed in the 116th to take on Jerry Costello despite the fact that his district is the most mathematically favorable Republican district currently held by a Democrat based on the 2014 vote totals.

The Senate Democrats had two new candidates file, one in the 32nd to take on Pam Althoff and one in the 26th to take on Dan McConchie. The House Democrats led the day having three new candidates file, one in the 48th to take on Peter Breen, another in the 50th to take on Keith Wheeler and one in the 110th to take on Reggie Phillips.

The most significant development of the day is that the Republicans do not have enough candidates on the ballot in the Illinois Senate to win control of the chamber. There are currently 20 Republicans in the Senate and they would need to win 10 more seats to have a majority in the chamber but of the 29 Democratic Senators up for re-election this fall only 9 will face a Republican opponent. Governor Rauner has struggled to pass his agenda through the General Assembly controlled by Democrats resulting in a multi-year stalemate and despite committing millions of dollars of his own money to electing more Republicans this fall he is guaranteed to have to find a way forward with an Illinois Senate that will be controlled by the Democrats for the remainder of his current term. The Republicans do have enough candidates on the ballot in the House to attempt to win control of that chamber.

Our tracker for General Assembly races that could or will be targeted races is up to date with all of yesterday’s new filings.

 

A Few New House Polls

Published on

Courtesy of Politico this morning we have new polls of five House districts that are currently held by Republicans and could be potential Democratic targets in the fall. Each of these districts is listed in our tracker of potential target General Assembly races.

The polling was done by Public Policy Polling on behalf of SEIU Healthcare. The service union wanted to test some messages related to possible upcoming votes that would affect the union’s members. The polls also included numbers on the Governor’s approval rating in the district and the district’s preference on whether or not to re-elect the incumbent.

 

First, the Governor’s approval rating in each district:

Rauner Approval Good Bad Neutral Not Sure
20th House (McAuliffe) 34% 48% 16% 2%
61st House (Jesiel) 40% 37% 21% 2%
95th House (Bourne) 30% 46% 21% 2%
99th House (Wojicki-Jimenez) 32% 51% 16% 1%
115th House (Bryant) 27% 50% 21% 2%

The Governor’s approval rating is upside down in all but one district, the 61st.

 

Next, the generic re-elect numbers for each incumbent:

Incumbent Re-Elect Someone New Not Sure
Mike McAuliffe (20th) 45% 40% 15%
Sheri Jesiel (61st) 36% 43% 21%
Avery Bourne (95th) 42% 47% 11%
Sara Wojcicki-Jimenez (99th) 33% 49% 19%
Terri Bryant (115th) 45% 44% 11%

McAuliffe has his head above water despite the Governor’s numbers, Jesiel is behind in the generic re-elect by 7 points despite the Gov’s +3 approval rating, Bourne and Wojcicki-Jimenez (both of whom were appointed to their seats via the Governor) are well under water in their districts along with the Governor and Bryant is just holding about even despite the Governor’s dismal numbers.

These numbers are just a limited snapshot but interesting nonetheless. The Governor’s team has telegraphed that they intend to tie Democratic House candidates to the Speaker so it would have been interesting to see those numbers in each of these districts, also while generic re-elect numbers are interesting it would have been more interesting to see actual head to head matchups with the Democratic candidates that will appear on the ballot this fall.

Here are the links to the full poll results and crosstabs: