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.

What to Watch For:

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:

Governor's Race:

  • Rauner has a publicly stated goal of reaching 20% in the City of Chicago (2010 Brady had 17.41%). Keep an eye on the Chicago returns to see if he's meeting this goal. Rauner has been a more frequent campaigner on the south and west sides of Chicago than his Republican predecessors, a strategy that has won both praise and criticism, it will be interesting to see if it pays off.
  • In the Cook County suburbs in 2010 Brady only got 39.50% and came up just short while Kirk took 43.47% and had a narrow win. Rauner is going to try to get a level of support that matches Kirk's 2010 numbers. In 2010 Quinn got 53.63% and he'll try to hold that. Recent polling in this area has had Quinn in the mid-50's and Rauner in the low 40's so it's worth watching closely. (see below for the poll tracker and regional support tabs)
  • In 2010 the Democrats downstate numbers were historically, abnormally low. The Democrats downstate support bounced back to numbers more historically consistent by 2012 so it should be very difficult for Rauner to repeat Brady's 58.66% downstate. However as Governor, Pat Quinn has closed a number of downstate facilities for budget reasons and his little known primary opponent was able to win a number of counties in Central and Southern Illinois so Quinn's downstate bounce isn't as high as you might expect. (note: you might be tempted to attribute Brady's 2010 downstate success to being a downstater but actually Kirk won an even greater percentage of the downstate vote than Brady did so it wasn't a regional support issue, downstaters in 2010 just went overwhelmingly Republican regardless of where the candidate was from)
  • If I am able to publish live election night results you'll be able to see exactly how the candidates in both the Governor's race and the Treasurer's race are performing in each of these regions. If not you're on your own and it's unlikely you're going to be able to find this info from any of the news organizations. If you're looking for three bellweather counties that may give you an indication of how downstate is going I'd recommend looking at Madison, Fulton and Franklin counties. Each county has traditionally been a county that typically slightly favors the Democrats but that they were only able to score in the low 40's in 2010.
  • Libertarian Chad Grimm has been polling in the 4-7% range and the conventional wisdom is that he is disproportionately taking those votes from Rauner. In the 2010 Governor's race the various 3rd party candidates combined to take 7.28% of the vote. The higher Grimm's support the more voters Rauner is going to have to win over elsewhere to win the race.

Treasurer's Race:

  • There hasn't been a lot of polling in this race but what polling there is shows this race is essentially a coin flip. Cross is going to look to replicate Rauner's goals above, Frerichs is going to hope to match Quinn's goals in the Chicago media market and hope to exceed Quinn's support downstate.


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:

  • The McKeon poll is so weird it's hard to have any faith in it. I could be a lot more specific and a lot meaner but let's just call it weird and move on.
  • The Rasmussen poll doesn't even list Grimm by name, it just has a category for other. There are some recent CBS/NYT/YouGov polls that have the same flaw that I didn't even bother listing for the same reason. This is a three candidate race, polling a two candidate race isn't going to give you great polling.
  • The Tribune poll in September showed a level of Democratic participation that would have been a record in a midterm election if it actually happened, there was probably just an excessive amount of Democrats in the sample. The October poll showed historically high Republican support in some subsets, the Collars in particular. Did they over correct on the 2nd sample? Are they just getting weird samples? Or maybe, are they getting something right that others are missing? Because of the large swing from one poll to the other the latter question seems unlikely but who knows.
  • And then you look at the Sun-Times, Reboot Illinois, Illinois Observer and Capitol Fax polls and you get concerned that they all use the same pollster, We Ask America. It's nice that we have so many WAA polls and they show consistency within a reasonable range of values but however well researched and well intentioned their likely voter model and weighting is it's a very hard thing to get right. If their assumptions are off by even a little bit you may find that the results on election night don't exactly match your expectations from looking at recent polling.

Governor's Race Poll Tracker

Historical Results By Region (Traditional Collars)

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:

  1. Of the total early/mail voters how many are you certain are voting for your candidate, how many for your opponent?
  2. What percentage of the total early/mail vote universe are habitual voters? How many are you certain are voting for your candidate, how many for your opponent?
  3. What percentage of the total early/mail vote universe are the infrequent voters targeted by early/mail vote GOTV efforts? How many are you certain are voting for your candidate, how many for your opponent?

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:

  1. Who is leading and by how much?
  2. How much of the vote is in? How much is outstanding?
  3. Which candidates are overperforming/underperforming expectations? By how much? And where?
  4. Of the vote that is not yet reported which candidate does it favor?

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:

Download Election Night Vote Counting Spreadsheets and Instructions


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.

Copy/Paste Historical Media Market Data
You can either copy/paste this data for your own use or you can use the iframes below:
Entire Tab Control:   <iframe src="" width="575" height="350" ></iframe>
Dem Perf:   <iframe width='500' height='250' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>
Rep Perf:   <iframe width='500' height='250' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>
Vote Share:   <iframe width='500' height='250' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>
Turnout:   <iframe width='500' height='250' frameborder='0' src=''></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).

Region - Traditional Collars

Copy/Paste Historical Region - Traditional Collars Data
You can either copy/paste this data for your own use or you can use the iframes below:
Entire Tab Control:   <iframe src="" width="575" height="275" ></iframe>
Dem Perf:   <iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>
Rep Perf:   <iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>
Vote Share:   <iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>
Turnout:   <iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>


Region - Expanded Collars

Copy/Paste Historical Region - Expanded Collars Data
You can either copy/paste this data for your own use or you can use the iframes below:
Entire Tab Control:   <iframe src="" width="575" height="275" ></iframe>
Dem Perf:   <iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>
Rep Perf::   <iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>
Vote Share:   <iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src=''></iframe>
Turnout:   <iframe width='500' height='160' frameborder='0' src=''></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.

Race 2012 2010 2008 2006 2004 2002
President 1.65% - 1.30% - 0.70% -
US Senate - 5.57% 3.63% - 2.98% 1.65%
Governor - 7.28% - 10.95% - 2.74%
AG - 3.63% - 3.30% - 2.51%
SOS - 3.11% - 4.15% - 2.24%
Comptroller - 6.49% - 4.26% - 4.23%
Treasurer - 5.06% - 4.82% - 1.92%

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%
___Chicago (only) 19.47% 17.41% 2.06% 18.50%
___Cook Burbs (only) 43.47% 39.50% 3.97% 19.02%
Collars (11) 56.36% 52.93% 3.43% 28.42%
Downstate (90) 59.26% 59.18% 0.08% 34.07%
Total: 48.01% 45.94% 2.07% 100.00%

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
Northfield 59.17% 49.37% 9.80%
New Trier 57.55% 48.81% 8.74%
Niles 42.87% 36.03% 6.84%
River Forest 47.31% 40.62% 6.69%
Wheeling 57.76% 51.31% 6.45%
Riverside 51.76% 46.42% 5.34%

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:

County2010 Kirk2010 BradyDifference

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:

2008 Obama50.81%
1996 Durbin50.20%
1998 Poshard50.04%
1990 Hartigan48.09%
2002 Madigan46.52%
2000 Gore46.52%
2002 Blagojevich46.41%
2006 Giannoulias45.13%
2012 Obama45.11%
2004 Kerry44.89%
2006 Blagojevich39.72%
2002 Dart39.24%
1998 Mosely-Braun36.53%
2010 Kelly35.40%
2010 Quinn33.99%
2010 Giannoulias33.82%
1994 Netsch28.75%

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:

1990 Hartigan57.47%
1996 Durbin56.98%
2002 Blagojevich55.97%
2006 Blagojevich55.31%
2008 Obama53.75%
2000 Gore53.17%
2006 Giannoulias53.13%
1998 Poshard52.01%
2004 Kerry51.26%
2002 Madigan51.23%
2012 Obama48.11%
2002 Dart47.47%
2010 Kelly42.72%
2010 Quinn40.31%
2010 Giannoulias39.97%
1998 Mosely-Braun38.79%
1994 Netsch35.42%
2008 Obama59.62%
2006 Giannoulias56.70%
1996 Durbin56.61%
2002 Blagojevich55.02%
2000 Gore54.92%
2002 Madigan54.77%
2012 Obama54.23%
1998 Poshard54.19%
2004 Kerry53.30%
1990 Hartigan50.54%
2002 Dart50.23%
1998 Mosely-Braun46.60%
2006 Blagojevich45.84%
2010 Kelly42.85%
2010 Quinn40.81%
2010 Giannoulias40.21%
1994 Netsch32.58%
1998 Poshard83.74%
1990 Hartigan65.08%
1996 Durbin60.23%
2006 Giannoulias58.52%
2002 Blagojevich58.32%
2002 Madigan56.83%
2000 Gore53.10%
2006 Blagojevich50.89%
2002 Dart50.31%
1998 Mosely-Braun48.75%
2008 Obama47.64%
2004 Kerry45.56%
2010 Quinn43.53%
2010 Kelly42.97%
2012 Obama40.49%
2010 Giannoulias40.23%
1994 Netsch37.27%

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.

Constitutional Office Candidates Current Cash Position (beta)
A-1 Totals by Committee by Date (beta)

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:

  • Data Currency: My server automatically copies the files from Election Money every night at 1am. They update their contribution data daily (usually in the evenings) and their candidate listings, committee listings and report summaries are updated weekly. The A-1 totals listed here should be current to within about 24-36 hours.

  • Data Depth: So far I have only been downloading the 2014 contribution data so if you try searching for A-1 totals prior to 2014 that data isn't available yet. I'll include the historical data once I know everything is working correctly.

  • I hope to eventually be able to add the debt total (line 9) from the most recent Quarterly report but it is not available yet. When describing a campaign's Cash on Hand you should be sure to take into account both their investment total and their debt.

  • Remember that the Net Funds Available does not take into account any spending figures since the last quarterly reporting period. Committees are required to file A-1 reports in the interim that list their large contributions received but the only time any expenditure info is reported is on the quarterly reports. The Net Funds Available figure is the sum of the last quarterly report CoH, last quarterly report investment total, subsequent A-1 reports individual contributions and transfers in.

  • The data shown here is only from the candidates' principal campaign committee. Prior to the introduction of contribution limits in 2011 campaigns/candidates often had multiple committees but now they are limited to one committee per office. Outside PACs can spend funds in support or opposition for these candidates but they are not allowed to coordinate that spending or effort with the candidates or their committees.

Constitutional Office Candidates Current Cash Position (beta)
A-1 Totals by Committee by Date (beta)

Here's an interesting read from the Chicago Tribune digital team about producing election night data.


I mentioned this on Twitter but forgot to update the front page. All of the 2014 Illinois primary data has been completely updated. All of the vote total analysis in the ANALYSIS section is up to date as well as the MAPS and even the ELECTIONS page profiles. If you're interested in the primary postmortem scroll down below, it turns out our election night numbers were pretty accurate and all the items held up when compared to the actual certified vote totals.

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.

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