With so much attention being paid to the Treasurer's race and the ballots being counted/updated in Cook County you could be forgiven for thinking that Cook County is the only area where ballots are still being counted, it is not. All 102 counties (and all 110 election authorities) are still counting late arriving vote by mail ballots, same day registration ballots and valid provisional ballots. Both Cook County and the Chicago Board of Elections have been updating their totals as they count their ballots and they are also giving us some public updates about how many ballots they have left to count, which is why we are seeing so much discussion of their totals. But the truth is every county is going through the exact same process, most of them are just not updating their totals while they're doing it and they're not likely to give us any updates until 11/18 when they stop accepting vote by mail ballots.
Analyzing the difference between the Treasurer's race and the Governor's race is suffering from the same Cook County focus, the most significant portion of the explanation lies elsewhere. When you look at the unofficial totals in the Governor's race and the Treasurer's race you'll see:
The difference maker in this race is downstate, not Cook County.
Here's a table that shows the difference between the party candidates for Treasurer and Governor (sorted by Republican underperformance):
Two things stand out, 1) Cross only outperformed Rauner in 13 of 102 counties, and the two most favorable were Sangamon and Logan where a lot of state workers live; and 2) while some of the counties where Cross most underperformed Rauner include parts of Frerichs' senate district like Vermilion and Champaign counties they also include other parts of the state like far western Adams County, southwestern Pike County and southern Marion and White counties.
Even in Cross' home base of Kendall County he only outperformed Rauner by about 3 points whereas there were 12 counties where Frerichs outperformed Quinn by more than 10 points. The downstate vote makes up the lion's share of the difference in these two races, Cross was unable to match Rauner's example and Frerichs outperformed Quinn throughout.
Cook County is getting all the attention right now simply because they're offering the most information but if you really want to understand why this race is incredibly close and the Governor's race wasn't the explanation mostly lies in the other 101 counties.
UPDATE: 11/10 (6:30pm)
Ok, I went through all of the election authorities that have a website and data, here are the updates:
Tomorrow is a holiday so I wouldn't expect many updates. I'll keep an eye on Cook, Chicago and the various collar counties just in case.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/10 (2:30pm)
Just checked Cook and Chicago and Cook had an update. There are 1,244 new votes over what was previously reported and Mike Frerichs had a net gain of 254. The margin now stands at Cross with a lead of 393 votes.
I'll check all of the election authorities for updates tonight when I get home from work.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/10 (8:00am)
Before work this morning I double checked Chicago, Cook, Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Aurora, Will, Winnebago and Rockford. The only update was in Kane where there were 1,314 new votes over what was previously reported and Tom Cross had a net gain of 1 vote.
I'll check all of the election authorities for updates tonight when I get home from work.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/9 (10:30pm)
I haven't looked through all of the various election authorities to see if there are any additional updates, it being the weekend I wasn't expecting any, but I got a text from Rich Miller tonight telling me there were new Chicago numbers and he's right so I have updated the tracker. The City of Chicago added just shy of 14,000 votes to their already reported totals and Frerichs netted a little more than 8,500 of them. The difference is now down to a very slim lead for Tom Cross of 646 votes.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/7 (6:30pm)
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/6 (11pm)
I went to all the election authority websites again tonight and updated any data that was new in the tracker. Here's a summary of what's new:
I had heard that Will County was supposed to have some updated numbers, which most likely would have added to Cross' advantage but they haven't updated anything yet.
Also here are a few known issues:
End of Update.
As of right now the tracker shows Tom Cross with a 14,373 vote lead. There are still 6 precincts in the City of Chicago that have not reported, all the rest in the state are in.
These are the six Chicago precincts left to report:
However that doesn't tell the whole story, there are still many additional uncounted votes, I'm just not sure how many. The Illinois Attorney General instructed election authorities that they could not count any of the early vote or vote by mail until after 7pm on election night. It used to be that the first results you would see on election night were the early voting numbers because those were counted in advance, but not anymore because they were instructed that they could not count them in advance.
So even though 109 of the 110 election authorities are showing 100% of their precincts reporting we are still likely to see the vote totals increase as more votes are counted. These are the three types of votes that may still need to be counted:
The problem is that of the vote totals currently publicly available you cannot tell which of the three types of potentially uncounted votes above are included or not included in the totals and it will vary by election authority.
For example, yesterday Chicago reported 17 of their 23 uncounted precincts (only 6 remaining) and Frerichs picked up a 4,800 vote advantage. Chicago appeared to only be updating election day votes, not mail or provisional votes.
Then late last night the Cook County Board of Elections updated their numbers even though they had already been reporting 100% of the precincts reporting and Frerichs gained another 1,100 vote advantage. Also at some point both DuPage and McHenry added votes to their totals over what was in the AP's election night totals and Cross picked up advantages of 3,680 and 4,891 respectively. I'm assuming that most of these are Vote by Mail votes but I don't know for sure.
I'm lead to believe that Chicago is still only counting election night votes, they haven't updated vote by mail votes and provisionals but I can't say for sure.
Additionally, it's hard to say for sure that the many counties throughout the state that are counting additional votes are making the updated data available on their websites. It's customary for these areas to have some data available on election night that are unofficial results and then they don't update the data again until after the numbers are official in about a month. Not every area has the sophisticated IT systems that you typically see in the bigger counties so the quality of the information varies. In fact, for about 20 election authorities the only data we have is what the AP reported on election night because some of the smaller counties don't even have a website at all.
CHECK MY WORK:
Here's how my tracker works, start by scrolling all the way to the bottom. You'll see the data for all 110 election authorities listed there. Every report above this raw data on my tracker is just an aggregation of this raw data. This is the data that I went and entered manually after looking up every EA's website last night. It was manual data entry so it's always possible that I typed something wrong or accidentally transposed Cross' and Frerichs' numbers in one county or another, but I ran a number of checks to see that the math came out right and it appears that it did. Also, you'll see a URL for most of these election authorities, you can follow those links to lookup the publicly available vote totals in each area. If you see one that has different data or more updated data than what's in the tracker let me know and I'll update the numbers. The numbers listed in pink are for the election authorities that have no publicly available data, in most cases they don't even have a website so the pink numbers are the numbers that the AP was reporting on election night. I can't verify that these pink numbers are accurate, it's just the only numbers we have.
But for now this is the most up to date count I know of anywhere. I have a day job that I can't neglect but I'll try to keep the info as current as possible, if you see anything new send a note here.
P.S. Projected Vote Totals:
On my tracker it's best to just ignore the Projected Vote total numbers. Those calculations can't account for uncounted vote when 100% of the precincts are reporting, those are only useful for election night when only part of the vote is in. Please don't assume that they are projecting what the mail and provisional votes might be, they are not.
I am going to attempt to display some very detailed live election results and also some projections based on those live results (and using historical data when no live data is available). Also, you can find real time insights on the Twitter feed here.
You can also find a full explanation of how all of the projections are calculated here.
First, an announcement:
I know I said I wasn't going to be able to post any live election results on election night the way were able to back in the primary but I spent some time looking at the way we were able to find data in the primary and I may actually post some stuff on the Governor's race and the Treasurer's race on election night if things work out as I hope. No guarantee, but if some data availability is similar to the primary I may be able to automate part of the data collection process. If so and I only have to do a little bit of manual data entry then I'll turn it on and make it available. I already wrote all the forumlas and built a dashboard to display everything so either it's doable & we have a bunch of really interesting info or you're at the mercy of the news orgs again. I'll do what I can.
Election day is two days away, here's what to watch for on election night to give you a sense of how things are going:
Look at the polling list below, I do have some concern. A few of these polls have some issues, the rest all come from the same pollster. Here's a list of issues:
Early voting and vote by mail are about to end and the reports so far seem to indicate that these early and mail voters will exceed the numbers from 2010. This has lead a number of analysts to try to crunch the numbers and figure out which candidate has the advantage from early voting, something that can't be done unless you know the voting history of each voter. The campaigns and the state parties have this data, pundits typically do not, so the only thing you can do is put together a list of good questions to ask these campaigns/parties and hope it will give you useful information. Let me explain.
I vote in every election, I am a habitual voter. The sun will rise in the east,
the Cubs will not win the World Series and I will vote. No campaign should spend any money or effort trying to get me out to vote, that would be like spending money to remind me to breathe. Last week I voted early, as I have in every election since early voting became legal. I didn't vote early because of any candidate's GOTV operation, I voted early because that's what I do.
If you want to measure which campaign's GOTV operation is performing the best you need to be able to separate out which voters are habitual voters vs. which voters are infrequent voters and early/mail voting GOTV targets. The campaigns have each defined a universe of infrequent voters that are very likely to support their candidate if they make it to the polls and they're working like crazy to GOTV these voters with either early vote or vote by mail. In order to correctly measure which side is performing best for early/mail voting you need to isolate and measure these efforts.
The campaigns divide voters into three categories 1) will vote for my candidate, 2) will vote for the opponent, 3) don't know. The size of the first two groups is much bigger than you would probably expect. In the old days they would determine their support group (run universe) from the list of people who've pledged support (their plusses) along with other potentially telling factors like the partisan strength of their precinct or their partisan primary voting history and other significant demographic characteristics. These days the national parties are paying to develop modeling scores for their key races which take all of the available information about each voter and uses it to develop a number that measures the likelihood that the voter will support the candidate relative to all the other voters. They can use this info to determine which voters are very likely to support one candidate or the other, although it's a little bit harder to predict what happens with the 3rd party candidates.
Once you understand all of these variables it's clear to see why you can't just look at raw early/mail vote totals and draw conclusions from them. Here are the questions someone will need to ask of the campaigns:
Also, if you can get them to show their work that would be even better.
Back in the primary we pulled together a team of volunteers to manually enter the election returns for the Republican Primary for Governor so that we could break down that data into usable chunks and draw conclusions in real time about how the race was unfolding. We will not be doing that for the general election next month, it's just not possible. Even if I wanted to I couldn't pull together the volunteers to perform that full real time analysis for even one race and to do it right it would need to be done for both the Governor's race and the Treasurer's race since recent polling shows that both of those races could go either way. (If you would like to do this yourself I'm giving away my tools for free below.)
Someone who is getting a live stream of election data needs to take the lead and format their output to give us the kind of useful data we need. My goal back in the primary was to demonstrate what could be done with all the election return data that comes in on election night if someone turned that data into something usable. These are the most important questions on election night:
Of the four questions above it has long been my frustration that news organizations really only attempt to answer questions 1 and 2 even though they have the means to answer questions 3 and 4 as well. They really only attempt to tell you the entire statewide totals and the number or percentage of the precincts reporting even though the means to provide much more information is easily available to them. You can't necessarily do this for every race but you can pretty easily put the statewide races into the proper context to either answer questions 3 and 4 or at least provide a pretty good guide.
News organizations can buy a live data stream from the AP, this is where most news organizations get the data they display on their websites on election night. I cannot do this, I tried, I asked for a quote to purchase this data and/or subscribe to the AP's service and I was explicitly told they would not allow me to be one of their customers because I was not a news organization. Clearly that's a stupid policy but it's not exactly shocking news that media people are bad at business.
But since news organizations have access to this data stream it's not much more work to format this data and run some basic mathematical calculations on the data to display the numbers in a usable format. They already have some developer write code to take the data out of the AP's data stream and then format it to display correctly on their election night web pages, just add a little extra effort to then display this info in a way that's helpful for people to understand.
News organizations I IMPLORE YOU use this as a guide and take these tools I am giving away for free and show us the data in a way that allows you to answer all four questions above instead of just the first two. Take the historical data found on this website (and below), take it, I mean literally take it, copy and paste it into your own election night websites or just use iframes and take the data directly from here. Let people compare the real time data with the historical data so they can draw conclusions about which candidates are beating/missing expectations and which candidates are likely to improve their position when the not yet reported election returns come in.
Campaigns, if you're looking to run your own election night vote counting operation and you want some help you can download the spreadsheets (and instructions) that we used in the primary here:
About Illinois Statewide Elections
There are 102 counties in the state but there are 110 election authorities (102 county and 8 municipal). The eight municipal election authorities are Chicago, Aurora, Galesburg, Bloomington, Peoria, East St. Louis, Danville and Rockford. The county election authorities in the counties where these cities are located only cover the precincts outside of these cities. So for example if you wanted to know how a candidate is performing in Cook County you would have to add that candidate's totals from both the Cook County Election Authority and the Chicago Board of Elections. So to get totals by county you have to account for these 110 individual inputs of data and add them correctly to be able to display the 102 county totals.
If you have all of the inputs above everything else is pretty easy. You can then add up the totals by media market and/or regions. Media markets are comprised of whole counties so this is an easy calculation. You can see a map of media markets here.
You can also calculate the totals by region. Typically in a general election the City of Chicago will be just under 20% of the total statewide vote and the Cook County suburbs will also be just under 20% of the total statewide vote. The five traditional collar counties (Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will) will account for just under 25% of the total statewide vote and the remaining downstate 96 counties will account for between 35% - 40% of the total statewide vote. These segments have distinct historical voting patterns from one another and the speed of these election returns can vary so it's useful to see it broken down this way.
Also, if you'd like you can break the vote down by region using the expanded 11 collar counties instead of the traditional 5, for more on that see here.
Most importantly, if you don't want to take the time to segment all of these counties into these various definitions (by media market, by region, etc.) just download my spreadsheet from the link above, each of the 110 election authorities is already defined for you.
The whole point here is that if you can segment the returns coming in by media market or region and you have historical data to compare it to with the same geographical boundaries you can compare this partial data to the historical data and begin to answer the questions listed in #3 above: "Which candidates are overperforming/underperforming expectations? By how much? And where?"
Displaying Data by Media Market
Broadcast TV ads for statewide campaigns are segmented by media market. When campaigns purchase ads they do not necessarily purchase ads in every media market and different media markets are likely to see different ads. Some markets are also more efficient than others, for example the Champaign/Springfield/Decatur market and the Peoria media market are both entirely contained within the state's borders whereas a market like St. Louis bleeds over into Missouri so you would be paying there to air ads to many people (Missouri residents) who cannot vote in the election. Voters who live in inefficient media markets are likely to see fewer ads than voters in more efficient markets. Since campaigns don't communicate with all of the state's voters in the same way or with the same frequency in their paid media it is useful to segment the election returns in a way that mirrors the segmenting used when broadcast TV ads are purchased.
|Entire Tab Control:||<iframe src="https://illinoiselectiondata.com/analysis/mmgentabs.php" width="575" height="350" ></iframe>|
|Dem Perf:||<iframe width='500' height='250' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dEtwYV9zWE5IakxkY2pqOGVITTNvNWc&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Aac13&output=html'></iframe>|
|Rep Perf:||<iframe width='500' height='250' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dEZWTlBYYnh4cF8tdFVvbTNBVHljSkE&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Aac13&output=html'></iframe>|
|Vote Share:||<iframe width='500' height='250' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dG91VHJxZDBKS3hHVzlGeXpmVml4N1E&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Aac13&output=html'></iframe>|
|Turnout:||<iframe width='500' height='250' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dHM1MkdxbEZpWDNFMmUzWHMxR2tqZXc&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Ag12&output=html'></iframe>|
Displaying Data by Region
Bruce Rauner has publicly stated a goal of 20% in the City of Chicago. Prior to 2010 the Cook County suburbs had been a perfect bellweather for the state as a whole, but then 2010 Kirk and 2010 Rutherford became the first two candidates to win statewide without winning the Cook County suburbs for at least the last couple of decades. In the last Governor's race the downstate vote was historically interesting. Each of these regions has a story to tell.
You can decide for yourself if you'd rather show the regions using the traditional collars or the expanded collars (or both), I'd probably recommend using traditional collars (for an explanation of the difference see here).
|Entire Tab Control:||<iframe src="https://illinoiselectiondata.com/analysis/tradcollarsgentabs.php" width="575" height="275" ></iframe>|
|Dem Perf:||<iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dEx3ZmpmVnN0eGtMMW03RjlvNEk5Ync&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Aac8&output=html'></iframe>|
|Rep Perf:||<iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dHVyV0x1Y1RHUGRkLUV2eTVmRW1lM0E&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Aac8&output=html'></iframe>|
|Vote Share:||<iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dERUSF9yYzdKZzBTRGpUU1pkQk9NM2c&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Aac8&output=html'></iframe>|
|Turnout:||<iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dG5oRGRGc3hsakY2NHdLNDBIY1Bobnc&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Ag7&output=html'></iframe>|
|Entire Tab Control:||<iframe src="https://illinoiselectiondata.com/analysis/expcollarsgentabs.php" width="575" height="275" ></iframe>|
|Dem Perf:||<iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dEd2ZmhSV3VCNnZqUTdFUGZTak92WlE&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Aac8&output=html'></iframe>|
|Rep Perf::||<iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dGNPWVFDaWZoVVBCa3NzOXJJV1pucXc&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Aac8&output=html'></iframe>|
|Vote Share:||<iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dGxNVXlnRTItZ2RFUUpNeElrd3lqU2c&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Aac8&output=html'></iframe>|
|Turnout:||<iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src='https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ar6RxFH3Vvz9dG1WTlRuOUtwRF95WnhNUjBXVW16cmc&single=true&gid=0&range=a1%3Ag7&output=html'></iframe>|
Projecting the Uncounted Vote
The last question that everyone has on election night but very few even attempt to answer has to do with the votes that haven not yet been counted/reported. Which candidate does it favor?
There are any number of really complicated ways you can attempt to project an answer to that question, I'm going to go over two pretty simple methods. However they each have their drawbacks.
Method 1 - Extend the Current Voting Patters
I used this method when we covered the 2014 Republican Primary for Governor last spring. For each of the 110 different local election authorities I simply applied the current vote ratio and extrapolated those numbers as if 100% of that area's precincts had reported. For example, if in one area 5 out of 10 precincts have reported and Candidate A had 100 votes and Candidate B has 80 votes the extrapolated Projected totals would be that Candidate A is projected to receive 200 votes and Candidate B is projected to receive 160 votes in that area. Do that for all 110 election authorities and add up the results to get the projected totals.
It's a very simple projection formula and it performs poorly very early in the night when only a few precincts have reported. It obviously gets better with more data. It's the sum of 110 separate calculations which is helpful but it also assumes an even partisan (or candidate support) distribution within each of those 110 election authorities which in some instances is an incorrect assumption. But it's a pretty basic calculation that is easy to perform and will get you a decent projection.
However as I learned the hard way on election night last spring early voting can cause some trouble in the calculation. There were many counties that were reporting only their early voting totals and listed zero precincts reporting for a few hours before any of their returns started showing up. This will cause some problems with your calculations so you'll need to account for this.
You can use this method to both project what the final results might look like based on current vote totals and also to predict which candidate is favored to win the support of the yet uncounted vote.
Method 2 - Use A Generic Partisan Baseline
Method 1 creates projections based on actual candidate performance, this method is based on a baseline of generic partisan expectations.
For example, let's say you started with the Cook Partisan Voting Index for each of Illinois' 18 congressional districts and assigned them a partisan score. You could then take a weighted average of each district's uncounted vote weighted by this partisan score. Let's say that the only uncounted precincts remaining in the entire state were in the 5th and 6th CD's. Let's say that 25% of the vote in the 5th CD was still not reported and 50% of the 6th CD. If the 5th is D+16 and the 6th is R+4 then you could use these figures and get a weighted average of the expected generic partisan makeup of the yet unreported vote. Obviously you wouldn't want to use this method if you'r expecting a strong 3rd party candidate vote.
The other problem with this methodology is the Cook Partisan Voting Index itself, you'd probably want to normalize it to more realistically match the current election. The Cook PVI combines the last two Presidential elections by congressional district and scores them relative to the national average. So if a district is listed as R+4 it means that the Presidential vote in that congressional district over the last two Presidential elections was 4 points more Republican than the national average. If you were to take an average of all 18 congressional districts in Illinois you'd come up with a Cook PVI for the State of Illinois at a little over D+8, this means that in the last two presidential elections the State of Illinois was about 8 points more Democratic than the country as a whole.
Well obviously there are a few problems with that, 1) this isn't a Presidential year election, it's an off year election and the electorate is going to be more Republican leaning than in Presidential years, and 2) in the last two Presidential elections Illinois elected a favorite son so that would artificially inflate the Democratic support. If you were going to try to use the PVI in this way you'd want to normalize it to offset both of the issues above.
Please, please, please give us better, more useful data on election night. Please. If you have any questions you can find my contact info here.
With Libertarian candidate Chad Grimm on the ballot for Governor's race I thought I'd pull up some data on historical 3rd party support. Here's a table showing the 3rd party support for each statewide race since 2002.
I knew there was strong 3rd party support in the 2006 and 2010 Governors races but until I looked this up I didn't realize that a non-trivial level of support for 3rd party candidates is pretty common. There are a lot of races here between 3% - 5%.
The other thing I have noticed is that Grimm's polling has been really consistent (see the tracker below). For the polls in the last month (at the time of this writing) his support scores are 5.88%, 5.00%, 5.00%, 6.00%, 6.00%, 5.00% and 7.27%, it doesn't get much more consistent than that.
I'm still not entirely sure where Grimm's election day support will fall, it's entirely possible that a number of poll respondents who are pledging support for him could either not show up or undervote the Governor's race. They could still also be won over by one of the two major party candidates. But for now I feel a bit more confident about a narrower range than I was expecting before I looked this up.
With Rauner publicly acknowledging a goal of at least 20% in the City of Chicago and our recent in-depth discussion of the downstate vote in this race I thought I'd put together a little utility that allows you enter predictions for each candidate's performance in these various regions and see how your predictions affect the statewide total based on the 2010 vote share numbers.
You can find historical Democratic and Republican performance by region here:
Also, a summary of recent polling, including by region where available, is below.
Also, this utility defines collars as the traditional 5 collars of Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane and Will. For more on that topic see the FAQ here.
Bruce Rauner recently announced that he is going to spend the remainder of the race campaigning in and around the Chicago area. There is some decent logic behind this strategy, it has long been the conventional wisdom that Bill Brady lost the 2010 Governor's race in the suburbs, and the numbers back that up. Take a look at the table below that shows the performance of Brady (Governor, lost) and Mark Kirk (US Senate, won) in their 2010 respective races by region (expanded collars).General Election Republican Performance - Expanded Collars (FAQ)
|Region||2010 Kirk||2010 Brady||Difference||Vote Share|
|Cook County (all)||31.63%||28.61%||3.02%||37.51%|
|___Cook Burbs (only)||43.47%||39.50%||3.97%||19.02%|
The expanded collars table groups "downstate" as the 90 counties outside the Chicago media market. You can see that in 2010 it made up a little more than 34% of the vote and the performance of Brady and Kirk is nearly identical, even though Brady is considered to be from the conservative wing of the Republican party while Kirk is less so. Even though Brady is from McLean County and Kirk is from the Chicago suburbrs, the voters in these downstate counties rated them equally and their performance was essentially the same.
The biggest difference was in the Chicago media market. The difference between the two candidates in the Chicago suburbs was about 4% but it varied by township. The difference was most pronounced in the affluent north and western suburban townships:
|Township||2010 Kirk||2010 Brady||Difference|
In the 11 counties in the Chicago media market other than Cook County (collectively referred to here as the Collars) the difference between Kirk and Brady was about 3 and a half points with the Lake County numbers the most pronounced:
|County||2010 Kirk||2010 Brady||Difference|
If the Rauner campaign can win over the Kirk-Quinn voters from 2010 they could have enough votes to win the election and since all of those Kirk-Quinn voters from 2010 are in the Chicago media market it makes sense for them to focus their campaign there now that we have reached the home stretch.
But what about Pat Quinn and the other candidates? 2010 was a strange year for Democratic performance downstate in that it was abnormally low. Take a look at the table below showing the Democratic performance of the candidates in competitive contested elections over the last few decades in the downstate counties outside of the Chicago media market:
In 2010 Pat Quinn, Alexi Giannoulias and Robin Kelly all performed worse than Carol Moseley-Braun did in 1998 outside the Chicago media market, and she was carrying a lot of baggage by then while unsuccessfully trying to fend off a well funded challenger. On this list only Dawn Clark Netsch performed worse than the competitive Democratic candidates of 2010 and she lost in a blowout by 30 points. In 2002 Tom Dart lost his race for Treasurer to the popular Topinka and in 2006 the Republicans actively campaigned against Blagojevich in their legislative campaigns tying the local Democratic candidates to the unpopular downstate incumbent governor, yet both of those candidates performed more than 5 points higher than Quinn and Giannoulias in the 90 counties outside of the Chicago media market.
They weren't just losing, they were losing downstate counties that had a history of going to Democrats like Madison, Fulton and Franklin by almost 20 points:
The downstate numbers for the Democratic candidates in 2010 weren't just bad, they were historically bad. So the question becomes, was this a once cycle free fall or the new normal?
One simple answer is that by 2012 Barack Obama was back up to 45.11% in the downstate 90 counties. As I mentioned before some of those numbers were probably helped in the Quad Cities by Iowa advertising, take a look at the map of Obama's performance by county and you can see that his numbers in the Quad Cities media market are noticeably better than his performance in the surrounding areas. But either way, one cycle later and those numbers bounced back to a historical norm.
The Presidential race was the only statewide race in 2012 but the Democrats performed strongly in a bunch of targeted State Senate races as well. First time candidate Andy Manar won the 48th Senate District (1D, 1R House members) by more than 10 points in a central Illinois district that stretches from Springfield to Decatur and down to eastern Madison County. (you can view district maps here) In the 36th SD (2D House members) up near the Quad Cities Mike Jacobs won re-election by more than 9 points. In the 46th SD (1D, 1R House memebers) in the Peoria area Dave Koehler won re-election by more than 8 points. In the 47th SD (2R House members) that runs from Quincy to Galesburg to almost Springfield John Sullivan was re-elected by almost 13 points. In the Metro East's 56th SD (1D, 1R House members) Bill Haine won by more than 17 points. And in deep southern Illinois' 59th SD (2D House members) perennial target Gary Forby won by more than 18 points.
The historically low downstate numbers for the Democrats in 2010 didn't carry over into the 2012 races. What can we expect in 2014 though? It's not a presidential year so the electorate will be smaller and more Republican leaning than in presidential years. Also Illinois native and favorite son Obama will not be at the top of the ticket, instead it will be Dick Durbin in what looks to be a pretty safe race and then Pat Quinn who remains unpopular downstate, even among his own party.
In 2014 the Governor's race was the only statewide primary race on the Democratic side to feature more than one candidate. Pat Quinn faced off against little known candidate Tio Hardiman, the former executive director of Cease Fire. Hardiman had lost his job at Cease Fire after his wife filed a domestic violence case against him, later withdrawn. Prior to running Hardiman also had a different guilty plea to a misdemeanor for domestic violence against a former wife expunged from his record.
You would not expect that a Chicago former executive director of Cease Fire with a history of domestic violence to become the preferred candidate of downstate Democrats but in the 2014 Democratic primary for Governor that is what happened. In this case it likely had less to do with people voting for Hardiman and more likely these votes were cast against Quinn in protest.
First take a look at the map of Hardiman's performance in the City of Chicago, it's very consistent with no wards above 30%. Next look at his performance map in the Cook County suburbs, again the same consistency with no townships above 30%. Then look at his county by county performance map, the difference jumps out at you, especially in southern Illinois. Hardiman won Marion county with more than 72% of the vote. In 6 other counties (Alexander, Clinton, Jefferson, Shelby, Union and Washington) he took more than 60% of the vote. The southern half of the map is littered with counties painted shades of blue, green or grey for Hardiman. Once you get outside of Cook and the traditional 5 collar counties everything is over 30%.
It may have been true that 2010 was a historically poor year for Democrats downstate that won't automatically translate to a repeat performance for Democrats this cycle but it's also true that Quinn is facing a popularity issue this cycle with downstate members of his own party. If he's that unpopular among Democrats it's likely to be true of downstate independents as well.
There is natural room for vote growth for Quinn in his downstate numbers. Even if he can only muster being as popular as Blagojevich was during his 2006 re-elect that would still improve his downstate numbers by about 5 points and a 5 point improvement downstate would translate to about 60,000 votes his way (and 60,000 away from his opponent) based on 2010 numbers. The mid 40's looks to be about the sweet spot for a typical Democratic candidate in a contested, competitive election, a far cry from the 34% Quinn took in 2010, but if he could somehow increase his downstate performance by 10 points it would be worth 120,000 votes his way (and 120,000 away from his opponent). In 2010 the race was decided by about 30,000 votes so these are meaningful numbers.
But in order to do that he's going to have to campaign hard there and win over voters that were clearly very angry with him back in March. Unlike Rauner who will focus like a laser on the City and suburbs, Quinn's path to victory likely includes a significant downstate component.
And what about the downstate Democratic candidates for Treasurer and Comptroller Mike Frerichs and Shelia Simon? Both are native downstaters who can likely count on above average support from the area. But if they're looking at the very visible Quinn anger displayed in the primary can they afford to risk being lumped in with Quinn downstate if his numbers don't improve? I am sure they would like to have the luxury to count on longstanding downstate support so they could focus their time and money on the Chicago media market but if Quinn's downstate numbers don't improve is that a risk they can afford to take? The Democrats have three downstate candidates on their statewide slate this year, Durbin, Simon and Frerichs, a more favorable downstate slate over recent cycles. They should be well positioned to rebound in their downstate performance but it will be interesting to see how the whole ticket performs and where the candidates and their campaigns spend their time and money to capitalize on the geographic makeup of their statewide ticket.
Thanks to the wonderful efforts of the DataMade team at Election Money who have made the Illinois State Board of Elections campaign finance data far more usable I have attempted my first crack at creating a (somewhat) current dashboard for the current cash position of each of the major party candidates for constitutional office. Please send me your feedback including any suggestions for new dashboards. My hope is to do the same for the State House and State Senate races and also look at some of the outside money PACs that file with the Illinois SBE. Here are some notes: