Post Mortem: IL-GOV 2014 Primary

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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

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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.