The Illinois General Assembly is considering SJRCA0001, a constitutional amendment to remove the prohibition against multiple personal income tax rates, essentially permitting an Illinois state graduated income tax. The Senate has approved the amendment and if the House does as well it will go before the voters for ratification on the 2020 ballot.

Per Article XIV, Section 2(b) of the Illinois state constitution there are two possible ways the proposed amendment could be ratified by the voters:

A proposed amendment shall become effective as the amendment provides if approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election.

That means it will either need 60% of the Yes votes or it will need a simple majority of Yes votes among all ballots cast. There will be some voters who cast a ballot but for whatever reason don't vote on this item on their ballot, those voters are included in the simple majority calculation for the latter ratification method.

For those who are working to try to ratify the amendment which of the two methods is easier? That depends, specifically it depends on the dropoff rate, the percentage of voters who cast a ballot but don't vote on this measure. If the dropoff rate is 0.00%, if every voter who takes a ballot votes on the amendment, then the denominator of both calculations is the same and you only need a simple majority of voters to ratify the amendment. However as the dropoff rate increases so does the threshold for ratification. If the dropoff rate is less than 16.667% it's easier to get a simple majority of those voting in the election than three-fifths of those voting on the question, otherwise the 60% threshold is the only path.

Here's a table showing the ratification and dropoff history for amendments going back to the 70's, based on this data source (see notes 1 & 2 below for data concerns). In the 80's and 90's it was common to have dropoff rates that were very large but that has changed in recent years. Looking back on the last three amendments to go before the voters all three had a dropoff rate lower than 16.667%.

CycleIssueTotal VotesBallots CastDropoff
2016Transportation Lockbox4,811,1155,627,14914.50%
2014Victim's Bill of Rights3,382,4663,680,4178.10%
2014Voter Discrimination3,310,2953,680,41710.06%
2012Pension Benefits4,337,8885,236,12017.15%
2010Governor Recall3,285,6173,780,77913.10%
1998Courts Commission2,084,1233,541,37941.15%
1994Rights After Indictment2,431,9083,219,12224.45%
1994Effective Date of Laws2,144,2003,219,12233.39%
1992Crime Victim's Rights3,680,1945,164,35728.74%
1990Tax Sales1,390,3183,420,72059.36%
1988Voting Qualifications3,249,0024,697,19230.83%
1988Delinquent Tax Sales2,533,0754,697,19246.07%
1986Bail and Habeas Corpus1,771,1333,322,65746.70%
1986Veterans' Property Tax Exemption1,588,3463,322,65752.20%
1984Veterans' Property Tax Exemption2,190,3454,969,33055.92%
1980Legislative Article (Cutback Amendment)3,074,5494,868,62336.85%
1980Revenue Article (Delinquent Tax Sales)2,656,4074,868,62345.44%
1978Personal Property Tax1,686,2613,342,98549.56%
1978Veterans Organizations' Post Homes Exemption1,554,4863,342,98553.50%
1974Governor's Amendatory Veto2,632,0323,047,82213.64%

Oddly enough, of those three the transportation lockbox amendment probably had the most media attention, but it had a higher dropoff rate than either of those in 2014. That may be due to the fact that it was the only one of the three on the ballot in a presidential election year, where you have more low-information voters participating who may not vote all the way down the ballot.

Why have modern elections had a much lower dropoff rate than those from late last century? It's hard to say but a likely explanation has to do with changes in the way we vote. It varies county to county but many counties in the state now have touchscreen voting machines or other electronic methods and it's common for those voting systems to warn voters when they've undervoted any questions and we're seeing a significant reduction in dropoff votes now.

Here's a table of the Yes vote needed to pass the measure with a simple majority of all ballots cast at different dropoff rates:

DropoffYes/BCYes %

If the dropoff rate for the upcoming vote is only 1% then it will simply need a Yes vote of 50.52% to pass, if the dropoff rate is 15% it will need a Yes vote of 58.84% to pass. It will automatically pass with a Yes vote of 60% or greater via the "three-fifths of those voting on the question" method.

Both sides are already spending on TV at a significant rate and that is before the measure has passed both houses of the General Assembly, it's likely that if the measure goes before the voters for ratification the media spending will grow even further. That kind of paid media attention will probably reduce the dropoff rate lowering the threshold needed for passage. That presents a difficult predicament for opponents, by bringing more attention to the measure, even negative attention, it will likely reduce the dropoff rate lowering the threshold needed for passage but they really don't have better options. If opponents encourage voters to skip voting on the measure then they run the risk of only Yes voters voting, which isn't an improvement.

What is clear though is that unless the Yes votes are well above 60% the outcome may not be known for certain until well after election day. It's entirely possible we have to wait until the vote totals are certified to be able to run the simple majority calculation on ballots cast.


Data Note 1: this was the data source for much of the historical data in the table above, however it has at least one error on it, probably a copy/paste mistake, the ballots cast number on the 2014 Voters Rights question is definitely wrong.

Data Note 2: for recent elections the ballots cast number is available via the State Board of Elections website in the Official Vote Total Book. However that report lists ballots cast numbers that are different in different locations. For example in the 2016 book it is listed as 5,666,118 on page ii for the purpose of calculating turnout but page vi lists it as 5,627,149. The 2014 book has the same issue, ballots cast is listed as 3,680,417 on page ii for the purpose of calculating turnout but on pages 4 and 8 it's listed as 3,667,206. Last week I emailed the State Board asking for a clarification, if I hear back from them I'll provide an update.

For those of you keeping an eye on the 2019 Chicago Municipal elections here's a rundown of the many useful resources offered by Illinois Election Data.


Free Stuff:

Candidate List: Candidate filing starts tomorrow Monday, November 19th and ends on Monday, November 26th. Candidates for Mayor, Clerk and/or Treasurer have to file 12,500 valid petition signatures while candidates for alderman have to file 473 valid petition signatures, along with other required documents.

We have a CANDIDATE LIST that will be freely available to all and updated throughout. Right now we have candidates listed for every citywide and aldermanic office, mostly a combination of incumbents, announced candidates, candidates that have created a fundraising committee with the State Board of Elections and candidate names that have been sent to us by the many helpful people who have offered suggestions on social media (thank you!). Starting tomorrow we'll update the candidate list noting those who have filed, adding those who filed who we weren't aware of and after the filling deadline passes we'll remove those that didn't file. Once the process for signature objections/challenges begins we'll keep track of all of those objections, those who were removed or withdrawn and those that won their challenges. Keep an eye on the CANDIDATE LIST, it will be updated throughout.

Maps, Maps, Maps: If you're interested in past elections we have MAPS for the 2011 and 2015 Chicago Municipal elections. For the three citywide offices (Mayor, Clerk & Treasurer) we have MAPS for the entire city by both ward and precinct. For every aldermanic race in those two cycles we have results MAPPED by precinct.

For example if you wanted to see the results of the 2015 Chicago Mayoral runoff between Rahm Emanuel and Chuy Garcia those maps can be found here: (Emanuel by Ward/Precinct, Garcia by Ward/Precinct). If you want to see an example of an aldermanic race here are the mapped results by precinct for the 2011 election in the 47th ward between Ameya Pawar and Tom O'Donnell: (Pawar by precinct, O'Donnell by precinct).

Note: precinct boundaries change all of the time and in Chicago they were different in 2011 and 2015. You can download a list of the number of Chicago precincts in each ward in each election here.

Vote History: If you'd like to see statewide election results for each ward our ANALYSIS section has vote total history for statewide races by ward for general elections as well as Democratic and Republican primaries going back to the 90's.


Subscriber Info:

Immediate Notifications: Subscribers can SIGN UP to receive immediate notifications of selected campaign finance filings, a great tool for campaign managers to keep an eye on the latest developments from their opponents and for PAC directors trying to stay on top of the latest developments in various campaigns. Subscribers can sign up to receive notifications of specified filings within a minute or two of being filed (my server checks for new filings every 2 minutes). You can choose whether to be notified by email, text or iPhone alert.

A Basic subscription is $15.00/month and allows for up to 10 different types of notifications along with full access to all up to the minute information on districts, races and campaign financial reports for the current election cycle. For anyone who needs to track more than just 10 types of notifications a Deluxe subscription is available for $30.00/month for unlimited notifications along with full access to all up to the minute information on districts, races and campaign financial reports. Step by step instructions are available along the right side of the SIGN UP page.

Note: the iPhone app is still the best way to receive immediate notifications but the app itself is a bit out of date. I hope to update the features available in the app soon but I have to buy a new Mac first so it won't be right away.

District Financial Profiles: Subscribers also have access to the financial profile for every race, both citywide races and aldermanic races. Here's an example, here is the current financial profile for the likely candidates in the 14th Ward: example. These profiles show the current cash and past spending for each candidate's committee plus any affiliated committees. For example Alderman Burke has his own candidate committee along with the ward fund and his Burnham Committee PAC. Wherever possible we've tried to include these affiliated committees. Subscribers can view these totals for every race in the SUBSCRIBERS section.

Current Cash - All Candidates: Subscribers also have access to the current estimated cash position of all candidates, here's an example. This report combines the cash on hand from the last quarterly filing plus any cash reported on A-1's since minus any cash out reported on B-1's since (unlikely for these committees but it's there anyway) and this gives you an estimated cash available. Because we see large cash in on A-1's in between quarterly filings but do not have much info about spending this total does not take into account any normal spending by the committee since the last quarterly report so it's more of a guide than an exact approximation. As with the district financial profiles we've also included the affiliated committees as you can see in the example below Toni Preckwinkle. Subscribers can view these totals for every race in the SUBSCRIBERS section.


I hope you find these resources useful. Good luck!

Thanks to Matt Dietrich at the Illinois State Board of Elections and to Cris Cray who put these county by county totals together for the Election Assistance Commission and shared them with us.

Here you can find the historical totals for early vote, vote by mail, absentee, grace, provisional and same day vote totals, where available. For some years we have county by county totals with more granular data. This dataset is not perfect but it's a helpful guide and as far as I know it's all there is.

To the members of the Illinois General Assembly:

I ask you to review the Illinois election code and consider making some changes. It is currently impermissible for county clerks (or municipal election authorities) to count the ballots of completed early voters and/or the ballots of completed vote by mail voters prior to the polls closing at 7pm on election night.

In 2014 the Attorney General provided clarification to the LaSalle County State's Attorney on this matter after reviewing the clear language of the law and concluded that "no absentee voters' ballots or early voters' ballots should be placed into the tabulators prior to 7:00 p.m. on the day of the election." She shared this opinion with all of the local election authorities.

I hope that the General Assembly will consider reviewing this matter and consider permitting the election authorities to count completed ballots as they see fit so long as they do not release or make public any results before the polls close, for two reasons:

  1. To give voters greater confidence in our electoral process, election night is the time of year when voters are most closely paying attention and our current setup increases the likelihood of providing them with only partial results on election night.
  2. To give election authorities greater operational flexibility rather than needlessly forcing them to complete so many tasks all at the same time.

Because election authorities are not allowed to count early/VBM ballots prior to the polls closing many don't start counting them until after they get all of their election night precinct totals completed and reported. This often means that on election night even if you see 100% of the precincts reported in a particular county they may still have plenty of early and vote by mail ballots in hand that still need to be counted, which can give a misleading impression to people watching the returns at home.

On the afternoon of general election 2016 I looked up the current totals for early vote and vote by mail and posted that 352,428 vote by mail ballots had already been returned while another 1,390,019 had early voted statewide. Combine these figures with the 44,722 grace period voters and it adds up to at least 1,787,169 ballots completed prior to election day. The total number of ballots cast for the 2016 general election was 5,666,118 which means that 31.5% of the total ballots cast in Illinois in the 2016 general election were already in the hands of the various election authorities by the morning of election day.

To point #1 above, it's concerning that voters at home watching returns on election night are led to believe that most or all of the vote has been counted, especially in very close races, when in reality as much of a third of the vote in hand may not be included in the returns even though 100% of the precincts are listed as reported. It is potentially misleading and can cause mistrust. In the State Treasurer's race of 2014 Tom Cross went to bed on election night with a lead of about 22,000 votes. However, many early vote and vote by mail ballots still were left to be counted and once they finally were, along with properly postmarked late arriving mail ballots, the outcome flipped with Mike Frerichs declared the winner by about 9,000 votes. Providing the public with one expected outcome on election night based on partial information in a very close race only to have the outcome change days later can erode confidence in our electoral system, which may be unnecessary when a better alternative is available.

To point #2 above, we should give our election authorities greater flexibility to meet their enormous election day tasks, including counting and tabulating results. Not that long ago the only way a registered voter in Illinois could vote was in his/her polling place on election day or via absentee ballot if and only if they met the qualifications to vote absentee. However since 2006 we have added early voting, vote by mail and in-precinct same day registration. In the last 12 years the complexity of conducting an election has grown exponentially, and in most cases without a corresponding growth in the resources necessary to manage this complexity. The state's 109 election authorities come in various sizes and each has their own challenges but all would benefit from greater flexibility for meeting the enormous demands placed on them on election night.

There are reasonable arguments against my proposal and they should be carefully considered by the General Assembly before enacting any legislation, some of which were mentioned at the end of the Attorney General's letter.

  1. It is possible that tabulating election results prior to the completion of the vote could give one party an advantage or could affect the outcome of the election if that information were to leak.
  2. Additionally by waiting until after the polls close to count any/all ballots the election authorities may ensure that each political party, candidate and/or qualified civic organization has the opportunity to observe the entire ballot counting process.

These are valid concerns that would require thoughtful safeguards to protect the electoral process. I'm hopeful that the General Assembly will consider a bill this session to improve our process, take testimony from interested parties to ensure that no other unintended consequences arise that haven't been previously considered and can craft and pass legislation that would improve our current system.


After talking with some people today I'm told that while election authorities are still not allowed to count results of ballots received prior to 7pm on election night there was some language added to the election code that gives them some additional flexibility, specifically:

(10 ILCS 5/19-8) (from Ch. 46, par. 19-8)
Sec. 19-8. Time and place of counting ballots.
(b) Each vote by mail voter's ballot returned to an election authority, by any means authorized by this Article, and received by that election authority before the closing of the polls on election day shall be endorsed by the receiving election authority with the day and hour of receipt and may be processed by the election authority beginning on the day it is received by the election authority in the central ballot counting location of the election authority, but the results of the processing may not be counted until the day of the election after 7:00 p.m., except as provided in subsections (g) and (g-5).

I'm told that this language allows the election authorities greater flexibility in handling some of the more time consuming tasks prior to election night while still not technically counting totals until after the polls close.

I'm thrilled to announce two new developments for the 2018 cycle, 1) we now offer a subscription service for immediate notifications for all different types of filings, and subscribers will have full access to all of the reports on districts, races and campaign financial status available to subscribers in the SUBSCRIBERS section, and 2) we have created a free iPhone/iPad app now available in the app store, there is plenty of useful information available to anyone who downloads the free app and ILED subscribers can log in the app and access all of their subscriber information as well.

I often tweet out many of the most interesting campaign finance news just moments after the latest reports are filed because I've programmed my server to send me an alert anytime something interesting happens, now I want to extend that functionality to you. For just $15/mo (roughly the cost of a single cab ride) you can sign up to receive immediate notifications for various types of filings. This is great for campaign managers who need to keep an eye on their opponent(s), you can sign up to receive an immediate notification any time one of your opponents has a new filing. You can receive a notification in any or all of three different ways, 1) by email; 2) by text message and/or 3) by iPhone/iPad notification from the app (this is the quickest and most reliable of the three options).

Full Subscription Details and Instructions

In addition to notifications subscribers will have access to the SUBSCRIBERS section (in the nav bar above). There are all sorts of great reports in the subscribers section including district profiles, financial summary reports for each race, cash on hand reports for every state and federal candidate, leadership committee and IE committee as well as summary and detail reports for all IE spending. The reports cover all statewide, legislative (state senate and state rep), congressional, Cook County countywide and Cook County board races. Click on the SUBSCRIBERS section link to see a list of all the reports that subscribers will have access to.

For anyone that might be interested or is considering signing up take a look at the subscription details and instructions page. There you can find tables that specify the type of notifications you can sign up for and all of the reports that are available to subscribers. There is also a step by step instruction guide on the right side that explains how to sign up.

Who should subscribe:
- Campaign managers
- Opposition researchers
- Consultants
- Anyone who is closely tracking any or many races

Who maybe shouldn't subscribe:
- Congressional campaigns - unfortunately there just isn't enough new info on a day to day basis to justify paying a monthly fee

New iPhone/iPad app

A new Illinois Election Data iPhone/iPad app is now available in the App Store.


The app is now available in the App Store and is free to download and it contains plenty of useful information at no additional charge. In addition to all of the freely available information, subscribers can log in and access all of their subscriber data through the app including instant notifications.

Congressional District Profiles

I have district profiles like this for every congressional, state senate, state representative and Cook County board district in the subscribers section. However since congressional races don't really generate enough new content day to day to justify a subscription I'm releasing these congressional district profiles for free.

IL-01 IL-07 IL-13
IL-02 IL-08 IL-14
IL-03 IL-09 IL-15
IL-04 IL-10 IL-16
IL-05 IL-11 IL-17
IL-06 IL-12 IL-18

Other Options

ILED subscriptions are not for everyone, some of you need access to this type of information occasionally but not often enough to justify a monthly subscription. You may remember that last cycle I helped publish something called "The Illinois Racing Form" with The Daily Line (formerly Aldertrack). I am no longer involved with the publication of the Racing Form but I think they are doing that again this cycle. I believe they plan to generate a large document with plenty of useful campaign info that they will update from time to time that is available for a one-time fee. Check with them for details but something like that may be a better fit for some of you.


While speaking to fellow Republicans at the State Fair this morning Governor Rauner announced his intention to try to win 9 seats in the State House next year. In 2016 the Republicans had a net pickup of four seats in the House and there are now 67 Democrats and 51 Republicans, the GOP would need to pick up 9 seats to win the majority in the House.

State House

Here are two lists side by side, one is a list of all the State House districts currently held by Democrats from most to least Republican and the other is a list of all districts currently held by Republicans from most to least Democratic.

116th HDJerry Costello, IID1
118th HDBrandon W. PhelpsD2
112th HDKatie StuartD3
111th HDDaniel V. BeiserD4
62nd HDSam YinglingD5
56th HDMichelle MussmanD6
55th HDMartin J. MoylanD7
96th HDSue SchererD8
58th HDScott DruryD9
57th HDElaine NekritzD10
59th HDCarol SenteD11
46th HDDeb ConroyD12
84th HDStephanie A. KifowitD13
113th HDJay HoffmanD14
72nd HDMichael HalpinD15
98th HDNatalie A. ManleyD16
114th HDLaToya GreenwoodD17
44th HDFred CrespoD18
35th HDFrances Ann HurleyD19
17th HDLaura FineD20
92nd HDJehan Gordon-BoothD21
36th HDKelly M. BurkeD22
43rd HDAnna MoellerD23
15th HDJohn C. D'AmicoD24
85th HDEmily McAseyD25
77th HDKathleen WillisD26
67th HDLitesa E. WallaceD27
80th HDAnthony DeLucaD28
18th HDRobyn GabelD29
19th HDRobert MartwickD30
86th HDLawrence Walsh, Jr.D31
83rd HDLinda Chapa LaViaD32
103rd HDCarol AmmonsD33
23rd HDMichael J. ZalewskiD34
16th HDLou LangD35
11th HDAnn M. WilliamsD36
12th HDSara FeigenholtzD37
60th HDRita MayfieldD38
21st HDSilvana TabaresD39
24th HDElizabeth HernandezD40
22nd HDMichael J. MadiganD41
38th HDAl RileyD42
7th HDEmanuel Chris WelchD43
78th HDCamille Y. LillyD44
34th HDElgie R. Sims, Jr.D45
3rd HDLuis ArroyoD46
28th HDRobert RitaD47
40th HDJaime M. Andrade, Jr.D48
31st HDMary E. FlowersD49
27th HDJustin SlaughterD50
30th HDWilliam DavisD51
39th HDWill GuzzardiD52
2nd HDTheresa MahD53
29th HDThaddeus JonesD54
13th HDGregory HarrisD55
8th HDLa Shawn K. FordD56
1st HDDaniel J. BurkeD57
9th HDArthur TurnerD58
4th HDCynthia SotoD59
5th HDJuliana StrattonD60
26th HDChristian L. MitchellD61
6th HDSonya M. HarperD62
14th HDKelly M. CassidyD63
32nd HDAndré ThapediD64
10th HDMelissa Conyears-ErvinD65
33rd HDMarcus C. Evans, Jr.D66
25th HDBarbara Flynn CurrieD67
20th HDMichael P. McAuliffeR1
76th HDJerry Lee LongR2
71st HDTony McCombieR3
91st HDMichael D. UnesR4
61st HDSheri JesielR5
79th HDLindsay ParkhurstR6
53rd HDDavid HarrisR7
81st HDDavid S. OlsenR8
48th HDPeter BreenR9
93rd HDNorine K. HammondR10
104th HDChad HaysR11
49th HDMike FortnerR12
115th HDTerri BryantR13
54th HDThomas MorrisonR14
97th HDMark BatinickR15
45th HDChristine WingerR16
68th HDJohn M. CabelloR17
70th HDRobert W. PritchardR18
41st HDGrant WehrliR19
66th HDAllen SkillicornR20
95th HDAvery BourneR21
74th HDDaniel SwansonR22
63rd HDSteven ReickR23
75th HDDavid A. WelterR24
65th HDSteven A. AnderssonR25
117th HDDave SeverinR26
99th HDSara Wojcicki JimenezR27
42nd HDJeanne M IvesR28
64th HDBarbara WheelerR29
52nd HDDavid McSweeneyR30
47th HDPatricia R. BellockR31
37th HDMargo McDermedR32
50th HDKeith R. WheelerR33
82nd HDJim DurkinR34
69th HDJoe SosnowskiR35
105th HDDan BradyR36
51st HDNick SauerR37
90th HDTom DemmerR38
89th HDBrian W. StewartR39
88th HDKeith P. SommerR40
100th HDC.D. DavidsmeyerR41
87th HDTim ButlerR42
73rd HDRyan SpainR43
94th HDRandy E. FreseR44
110th HDReginald PhillipsR45
101st HDBill MitchellR46
102nd HDBrad HalbrookR47
107th HDJohn CavalettoR48
108th HDCharles MeierR49
106th HDThomas M. BennettR50
109th HDDavid B. ReisR51

State Senate

Here are two lists side by side, one is a list of all the State Senate districts currently held by Democrats from most to least Republican and the other is a list of all districts currently held by Republicans from most to least Democratic. The Senate currently has 37 Democrats and 22 Republicans, the Republicans would need to pick up 8 seats to win the majority.

48th SDAndy ManarD1 
56th SDWilliam R. HaineD2 
23rd SDThomas CullertonD3 
31st SDMelinda BushD4(Not on Ballot)
49th SDJennifer Bertino-TarrantD5(Not on Ballot)
34th SDSteve StadelmanD6(Not on Ballot)
28th SDLaura M. MurphyD7(Not on Ballot)
52nd SDScott M. BennettD8(Not on Ballot)
46th SDDavid KoehlerD9(Not on Ballot)
29th SDJulie A. MorrisonD10 
40th SDToi W. HutchinsonD11(Not on Ballot)
57th SDJames F. Clayborne, Jr.D12 
10th SDJohn G. MulroeD13(Not on Ballot)
19th SDMichael E. HastingsD14(Not on Ballot)
42nd SDLinda HolmesD15 
22nd SDCristina CastroD16(Not on Ballot)
18th SDBill CunninghamD17 
9th SDDaniel BissD18 
30th SDTerry LinkD19 
43rd SDPat McGuireD20(Not on Ballot)
8th SDIra I. SilversteinD21 
6th SDJohn J. CullertonD22 
12th SDSteven M. LandekD23 
39th SDDon HarmonD24 
11th SDMartin A. SandovalD25 
14th SDEmil Jones, IIID26 
4th SDKimberly A. LightfordD27(Not on Ballot)
20th SDIris Y. MartinezD28 
2nd SDOmar AquinoD29 
15th SDNapoleon Harris, IIID30 
1st SDAntonio MuñozD31(Not on Ballot)
16th SDJacqueline Y. CollinsD32(Not on Ballot)
17th SDDonne E. TrotterD33 
7th SDHeather A. SteansD34(Not on Ballot)
3rd SDMattie HunterD35 
5th SDPatricia Van PeltD36 
13th SDKwame RaoulD37(Not on Ballot)
36th SDNeil AndersonR1 
38th SDSue RezinR2 
27th SDTom RooneyR3 
24th SDChris NyboR4 
58th SDPaul SchimpfR5(Not on Ballot)
41st SDChristine RadognoR6 
21st SDMichael ConnellyR7 
33rd SDKaren McConnaughayR8 
25th SDJim OberweisR9(Not on Ballot)
59th SDDale FowlerR10 
32nd SDPamela J. AlthoffR11 
35th SDDave SyversonR12 
47th SDJil TracyR13 
26th SDDan McConchieR14 
50th SDWm. Sam McCannR15 
37th SDChuck WeaverR16(Not on Ballot)
45th SDTim BivinsR17 
44th SDWilliam E. BradyR18 
53rd SDJason A. BarickmanR19 
51st SDChapin RoseR20 
54th SDKyle McCarterR21 
55th SDDale A. RighterR22(Not on Ballot)


Here are two lists side by side, one is a list of all the Illinois Congressional districts currently held by Democrats from most to least Republican and the other is a list of all districts currently held by Republicans from most to least Democratic.

17th CDCheri BustosD1
8th CDRaja KrishnamoorthiD2
10th CDBrad SchneiderD3
11th CDBill FosterD4
3rd CDDan Lipinski D5
9th CDJan SchakowskyD6
5th CDMike QuigleyD7
1st CDBobby RushD8
4th CDLuis GutierrezD9
2nd CDRobin KellyD10
7th CDDanny DavisD11
12th CDMike BostR1
13th CDRodney DavisR2
6th CDPeter RoskamR3
16th CDAdam KinzingerR4
14th CDRandy HultgrenR5
18th CDDarin LaHoodR6
15th CDJohn ShimkusR7

Methodology - I combined the vote totals by district for the 2012 race for President, 2014 races for US Senate, Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller and Treasurer and the 2016 races for US Senate and Comptroller and then ranked them. I did not include the 2016 Presidential because the regional voting patters by party were substantially different than typical and were a) not necessarily indicative of relative party strength and b) probably unique to the dynamics of that specific race.

From time to time when the Governor files a new A-1 including (relatively) small donations from supporters someone will ask why donors are contributing to Rauner given his capacity to self fund. With such a large amount of the funding on the Republican side during the 2016 cycle coming from Rauner and just a few of his wealthy allies it's easy to mistakenly assume that his donor pool in 2014 was small as well but that was not actually the case.

Here is a breakdown of Governor Rauner's fundraising in 2014:

Citizens for Rauner, Inc.
Campaign Fundraising up to Election Day 2014

Bruce Rauner$27,526,000.00
Republican Governors Association$8,689,000.00
Ken Griffin$5,589,295.18
Illinois Republican Party$3,289,648.10
Richard Uihlein$605,300.00
The Rest$24,234,633.54

Fundraising on December 31, 2014

Bruce Rauner$10,000,000.00
Ken Griffin$8,000,000.00
Richard Uihlein$2,000,000.00

Cycle Total$89,933,876.82

Not including the $20 million Rauner added on New Year's Eve 2014, he raised just shy of $70 million for the 2014 Governor's race, although about $8 million of that was transferred to the Illinois Republican Party. In 2014 about $46 million of Rauner's total came from himself, the state and national party and his few wealthy allies but he still raised over $24 million from traditional Republican supporters and other various donors. That is roughly comparable to the $23 million Rod Blagojevich spent in 2002 to win the Governor's race, a not insignificant amount. Even though Bruce Rauner is currently sitting on $70 million ($50 million from himself, $20 million from Ken Griffin) he's likely to continue to raise money from traditional sources for the remainder of the election.


Illinois is a big state covering all or part of ten media markets but in a Democratic primary anywhere from 70% - 80% of the vote is in the Chicago media market making it the main focus of most statewide Democratic primary campaigns. However as we discussed yesterday a small plurality may be enough to win the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2018 and roughly about a quarter of the vote in the Democratic primary will come from the other nine media markets which means you can't overlook the downstate vote.

In some past competitive statewide primaries we've had a downstate candidate who was able to rally and consolidate that vote. For example take a look at Glenn Poshard's vote map in the 1998 Democratic primary for Governor, prior to running for Governor he was a congressman in a district that ran roughly from Decatur to the Kentucky border and you can see on the map how he had almost monolithic support in his old district, ran strong in western Illinois and did around 50% in most of the counties in northwestern Illinois, the downstate vote belonged to him.

But in this cycle's primary the only downstate candidate is Bob Daiber, the Madison County regional superintendent of schools, and that vote is potentially up for grabs so let's look at some other similar races. Typically in competitive Democratic primaries the candidate with the financial advantage is the one that does best downstate. In the 2002 Democratic primary for Governor Rod Blagojevich was the first candidate on TV, had enough money to run ads statewide and he built up an early lead and held on to that lead after his opponents got on the air, he won 57% of the vote in the 90 counties outside the Chicago media market. In the 2010 Democratic primary for US Senate Alexi Giannoulias was the first candidate on TV, had enough money to run ads statewide and he built up an early lead and held on to that lead after his opponents got on the air, he won 44% of the vote in the 90 counties outside the Chicago media market.

Which brings us to 2004. The 2004 Democratic primary for US Senate was made famous because it launched the federal electoral career of Barack Obama, he won the nomination comfortably with 53% of the vote and his next closest competitor was Comptroller Dan Hynes at 24%. The end of the primary may have been anti-climactic but the race was fascinating and had some interesting features that may be relevant to the upcoming Democratic primary for Governor.

Blair Hull entered the race promising to spend up to $40 million, he actually wound up spending $29 million on the losing effort and he finished with 11% of the vote. Late in the campaign Hull's divorce file was unsealed and the ugly revelations coincided with a significant drop in his support resulting in a distant third place finish.

The simple takeaway from the Hull candidacy is even incredible personal wealth can't shield a candidate with skeletons in his oppo file but beyond that obvious observation there are a few more which I find interesting.

Prior to the release of Hull's divorce file in late February 2004 he was leading in the polls. A Tribune/WGN poll conducted in mid-February, about a month before the election, had him up 9 points on Obama and 13 points on Hynes who at the time was the only statewide elected official in the field.

CandidateFeb 04 Tribune PollFinal Statewide Total

Hull not only had a lot of money but he spent it early on statewide television and had much of the airwaves to himself. During the 2002 gubernatorial campaign Hull sat in on some strategy meetings at Blagojevich campaign headquarters and Hull's primary followed a similar playbook to Blagojevich's the cycle before. Both were the first candidate on TV, both spent enough throughout the state to build up an early polling advantage, especially downstate, and both tried to hang on to that early lead as their opponents got on the air late in the campaign. Blagojevich's early lead was enough to carry him to the nomination, Hull's lead wasn't sustainable against the combined factors of Obama's substantial political appeal and Hull's ugly divorce revelations.

At the time that Tribune/WGN poll was taken in mid-February Hull was polling at 30% downstate, ahead of Hynes who was at 20%. Hull was a relative newcomer and virtual unknown while Hynes had already been elected statewide twice, winning the Comptroller's office in 1998 and 2002, yet thanks to his unmatched TV spending Hull was 10 points ahead of Hynes at the time. Even when the race was over, when Hull finished with just 11% of the statewide vote he still won 24% of the vote in the 90 counties outside of the Chicago media market, due in large part to that early unmatched TV spending. Being the only candidate on the air is a powerful advantage in Illinois statewide races.

In our current Democratic gubernatorial race J.B. Pritzker is already up on TV with eight months still left before the primary (yes, that's crazy). Like Hull Pritzker entered the race largely as an unknown to most voters and again like Hull he has almost unlimited personal wealth that he's pledged to use for the upcoming campaign. Pritzker's unmatched TV spending will go head to head with Kennedy's name recognition for early support among downstate primary voters while rivals hope to play catch up at the end. Six of the nine downstate media markets are only partially in Illinois and partially lie in other states (Quad Cities, Quincy, St. Louis, Paducah, Evansville, Terre Haute) making them inefficient and expensive for advertising so the challengers going on the air later in the cycle will still need to be well funded to compete here. The downstate vote may only be a quarter of the statewide vote but traditionally the candidate with a significant financial advantage has been the beneficiary, a dynamic that we may see play out again in 2018.


Correction: an early version of this post failed to note that Bob Daiber is a downstate Democratic gubernatorial candidate.


Back in April Laura Washington wrote a column titled Message to Dems in governor's race: Listen to black community with the following premise:

The lineup for Illinois' 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary is firming up fast. So far, the six-candidate field is mostly white, and all male.

To win, one of them must energize and capture the party's crucial base. African-American voters should be asking: What have you done for me? What will you do for me?

Since then the Democratic primary candidates haven't really taken her advice but we're starting to see some movement. Over the weekend Chris Kennedy, son of Robert Kennedy, gave a lengthy speech at a south side church on the devastating impact of gun violence relating how it affected his childhood. Today Ameya Pawar is scheduled to give a speech in Bronzeville outlining his plan for criminal justice reform. To kick off his campaign Prizker announced his candidacy at a south side park district field house and featured a number of prominent community supporters. Prizker also made a $1 million deposit into Illinois Service Federal Savings, Chicago's last black-owned bank, which drew comparisons to Bruce Rauner who did something similar in 2014.

Kennedy has had the early support of black voters according to what little polling data has been publicly available. In a midterm primary, which typically skews towards older voters, the Kennedy name and family history will likely be an asset, as well as key endorsers like Rep. Bobby Rush.

In a field with so many candidates and a significant number in the top tier, any of whom are capable of making a strong showing, a relatively modest plurality may be enough to win the nomination. In the 2010 primary for US Senate Alexi Giannoulias won a three-way statewdie race with just 39% of the vote, in the 1998 gubernatorial primary Glenn Poshard won a six-way race with just 38% of the vote, in the 2002 gubernatorial primary Rod Blagojevich won a three-way race with 37% of the vote. Heck, in the 2008 Democratic primary for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez won a six-way race with just 27% of the vote. In a primary with a large and well contested field it often doesn't require a majority or even a large plurality to win the nomination so winning over any sizable bloc of voters can be enough to secure the nomination.

Which brings me to Roland Burris. In 1990 Burris was elected Attorney General and in 1994 he ran for Governor, the first of three unsuccessful attempts. In the 1994 Democratic gubernatorial primary Burris got 36.5% of the statewide vote but came in 2nd to Dawn Clark Netsch's 44.4%. He tried again in 1998 earning 30.5% of the statewide vote but again finishing 2nd to Glenn Poshard who won with 37.6%. In 2002 he tried one last time earning 29.0% of the statewide vote but finishing 3rd behind Blagojevich's 36.5%. In each race his support fell a little bit from the previous cycle but even after his 3rd attempt he held together a statewide coalition of supporters that was still good enough for 29% of the statewide vote. The candidate field for the upcoming Democratic primary has a number of strong attributes but none began the race with a base as big as the former Burris coalition. Burris was an accomplished statewide elected official, he certainly assembled a coalition that included more than just black votes, but the black vote was a key component of that coalition and with the black vote uncertain in this upcoming Democratic primary a potentially very large voting bloc is up for grabs.

Can any one candidate win a majority of the black vote? That is difficult to say for sure but some recent voting trends suggest that it is certainly possible. It's impossible to isolate and calculate just the black vote for historical statewide races but we can look at a subset of the data and use it as a proxy. Below is a chart of the vote in Chicago's majority black wards, it does not include voters in the suburbs or downstate so it is an imperfect proxy but revealing nonetheless.

RaceAA LeaderAA Ward %Statewide TotalFinish
1994 GovBurris86.10%36.50%2nd
1998 GovBurris88.27%30.56%2nd
2002 GovBurris79.99%29.03%3rd
2004 US SenObama88.69%52.77%1st
2006 GovBlagojevich90.83%70.84%1st
2008 PresObama92.56%64.66%1st
2010 US SenJackson55.44%19.86%3rd
2010 GovQuinn58.46%50.18%1st
2014 GovQuinn77.09%71.94%1st

The leading candidate of voters in these black majority wards has had a mixed success rate, some of them won the primary while others didn't, still in each of them the preferred candidate not only won these wards but won them with a majority and not just a plurality which suggests that the candidate that is best able to appeal to this bloc of voters could potentially unite them in that support. In the case of the 2006, 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial primaries there were only two Democratic candidates so the leading candidate was guaranteed a majority, nonetheless the observation still holds.

Can any candidate in this field reassemble and build on the Burris coalition? Maybe, maybe not. Barack Obama was able to in 2004 when he won the US Senate primary with 53% of the statewide vote against a strong field, however Cheryle Jackson was unable to find the same success in the 2010 US Senate primary finishing 3rd with just 20% of the statewide vote.

There isn't a guaranteed path to the Democratic nomination through the black vote in Illinois, other paths have proven just as successful in recent statewide primaries, but there is an awful lot of votes here and it's not yet clear which of the 2018 candidates is going to win their support. It's only a matter of time before the campaigns recognize the math and start to vigorously compete for these votes. This part of the campaign has been surprisingly quiet so far, it won't stay that way.


It's the dog-days of summer and the Sox have lost about a hundred games in a row (estimated, roughly) so let's distract ourselves with a little fun with numbers.

Two weeks ago Natasha Korecki had an article in Politico where some party officials speculated the Illinois Governor's race could cost more than $300 million. Following that, here was my prediction on Twitter:

Obviously $300 million in spending is only achievable if the general election candidates are Rauner and Pritzker, which is by no means guaranteed. But for the purpose of this exercise let's say that they are the nominees of their respective parties.

Here's a little back-of-the-napkin for why I'm skeptical. The real question is how much will have to be spent on media buys (TV and digital) on top of everything else that will be spent (mail, production, operations, etc.) to hit $300 million? Let's try to guess at that.

Aside from Pritzker the other Democratic gubernatorial candidates have combined to spend about $1.4 million so far, let's say for argument's sake they spend another $15 million on top of that in the primary. For our general election predictions let's use Rauner's 2014 spending as a guide. In 2014 Rauner had about $6 million in production expenses, let's estimate that both Rauner and Pritzker will have about $7 million in production expenses this cycle. In 2014 Rauner directly spent about $3 million in mail plus had another $2.5 million from the Illinois Republican party for mail, for this exercise let's estimate they each spend about $6 million in mail. Let's give them each $1 million for polling, $3 million for materials (yard signs, buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc.) and $15 million for operations (operations, travel, payroll, consulting, etc.). Throw in the $9.3 million that Pritzker has already spent plus the $4 million that Rauner has already spent and you've accounted for about $94 million without even getting to media buys for the rest of the cycle yet.

 RaunerPritzkerOther Cands
Other Dem Candidates  $15.00 M
Already Spent$4.00 M$9.30 M$1.40 M
Production$7.00 M$7.00 M 
Polling$1.00 M$1.00 M 
Mail$6.00 M$6.00 M 
Materials$3.00 M$3.00 M 
Operations$15.00 M$15.00 M 
Total$36.00 M$41.30 M$16.40 M

The figures above total $93.7 million dollars, an impressive figure but still far from $300 million. The rest has to be spent on media buys between now and election day (the amount already spent on media buys and other campaign expenditures is listed above).

I don't believe anyone is currently airing TV ads, although digital ads may be ongoing. But for argument's sake let's say both Rauner and Pritzker went back up on TV the day after Labor Day (a Tuesday) and didn't come down until general election day 2018 (also a Tuesday). That is 61 weeks. In order to spend the remaining $206 million you would still have to spend another $3.4 million per week combined (or $1.7 million per week for each candidate) for every week starting this September running through election day the following fall.

For reference, let's look at Rauner's media buys from the 2014 election cycle.

WeekStart DateEnd DateBruce Rauner
Week 1208/13/1408/19/14$556,907.38
Week 1108/20/1408/26/14$702,543.41
Week 1008/27/1409/02/14$1,037,358.50
Week 909/03/1409/09/14$1,301,821.41
Week 809/10/1409/16/14$1,283,174.80
Week 709/17/1409/23/14$1,388,965.03
Week 609/24/1409/30/14$1,547,732.21
Week 510/01/1410/07/14$1,553,456.77
Week 410/08/1410/14/14$2,711,560.42
Week 310/15/1410/21/14$2,505,242.54
Week 210/22/1410/28/14$4,552,138.87
Week 110/29/1411/04/14$995,134.31

It wasn't until the final four weeks of the general election in 2014 that Rauner was spending $1.7 million per week, that is a healthy statewide buy. In order to spend $300 million on the Governor's race it isn't about spending even more money late in the cycle, that spending only has so much room to grow, the only way they can hit that target is to start spending heavily early. Another way of saying that is in order for the Governor's race spending to reach $300 million combined both Prizker and Rauner need to spend at a level that 2014 Rauner didn't reach until the final month of the election - for the final 61 weeks of this election cycle. That seems unlikely.

None of this really matters, it's all in good fun (and Malort), just a bit of an educated guess but I still want to take the under on $300 million. It will still be a ridiculously high number, 2018 will shatter all campaign spending records and has no worthy previous Illinois comparable. If it does somehow approach or surpass $300 million we will be well beyond Brewster's Millions absurdity.

© Illinois Electon Data