Monday, December 6, 2010

Illinois 2010 Election Results – For Republicans, A Tale of Two Electorates

For Illinois Republicans, last month’s election results were a mixed bag and showed an electorate very schizoid about the two major parties.

First the good news – Republicans won the Senate seat (Mark Kirk), picked up 4 House seats, and held the one Kirk vacated to run for Senate. In Congressional Districts 8, 11, and 14, all of which begin in the Chicago suburbs and extend well into the state, Republicans Walsh, Kinzinger, and Hultgen recaptured long-held seats that had been recently lost to Democrats from inattention, sloth, ideological drift, and incompetence. In addition, Republican Schilling bumped off bumbling Democrat incumbent Hare, a protégé of the late ultraliberal Congressman Evans, in the 17th district along the Mississippi River, and Republican Dold kept Kirk’s old north suburban congressional seat in party hands. Republicans will now hold 11 of the state’s 19 congressional seats. Seven of the 8 Democrat-held districts are in Chicagoland.

But state races were a different story. In the five races for state-wide offices (candidates for governor and lt. governor run together, so voters cast only one vote for a pair of candidates), Republicans won only two, for Treasurer and Comptroller, both open Democrat seats. Incumbent Democrats won the races for Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. But it wasn’t all name recognition. Republican Bill Brady, in the governor’s race, had reasonable name recognition in Republican suburban DuPage County from previous races, yet received about 17,000 votes less than Republican Dan Rutherford, unknown in the Chicago area, running for state Treasurer. In DuPage County alone, Brady received about 25,000 votes less than Republican Judy Barr Topinka in her run for her old spot as controller; Brady lost to Democrat incumbent Pat Quinn by only about 19,000 votes in the whole state. Many Republican voters split their votes.

The Brady-Quinn race illustrates the electoral challenge for Republicans in Illinois. Using the unofficial results that are available the day after the election, with 99%+ precincts reporting, Republican Brady won 99 counties versus only 3 for Quinn, but still lost because his margins of victory in all those counties could not overcome his poor showing (about 29%) in just one of the 102 – heavily Democratic Cook County. Kirk also won 99 of 102 counties, but ran just a few percentage points better than Brady in Cook County and everywhere else, and that was enough to win his Senate race.

In the state legislature races, Republicans gained some seats in both the Senate and House, but failed to take either from the Democrats, who held large majorities going in to the election.

So Illinois voters, faced with a state functionally bankrupt and run in recent years completely by Democrats, re-elected Democrats to most of the same state offices and state legislature seats, while throwing out 4 incumbent Democrat US congressmen. Hard to figure.

John M Greco

Related Posts:
Observations on the 2010 Illinois Primary Results
Illinois Republicans: Slip, Slidin’ Away

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