JB Pritzker currently leads Bruce Rauner, the Republican incumbent, by ten points or more in every single poll (Check: Here). Although polls have fallen from their good graces, a ten point lead is not something for Democrats to lose sleep over. Whether or not Pritzker will win the Governor’s seat on Tuesday is not the question we should be asking. The question we should be asking is: Where will he win?
where Williamson, Jefferson, Perry, Randolph, Saline, and White county, amongst others, all voted for the 1998 Democratic candidate, Josh Poshard, by more than a 20 point margin. In 2016, these same counties voted for Trump by the same margin. It’s important to recognize that this dramatic political shift did not happen because of a rogue, populist candidate. In 2012, with the exception of Perry and Randolph county, Williamson, Jefferson, Saline, and White all voted for Mitt Romney by the same 20 point margin.
The rapid political realignment that has occurred outside of Cook County is best illustrated by the Gubernatorial races of the last 20 years. In 2014, Rauner won every single county in Illinois with the exception of Cook. In 2010, Pat Quinn won only 4 counties in Illinois, Alexander, Cook, St. Claire, and Jackson.
These county-level maps ignore population, and look at every county on an equal playing field, it appears to be a worrisome trend for Chicago and the Democratic party. This electoral shift has happened along with a demographic one, though–while most Illinois counties have been losing population recently, the Chicago metro area population has actually been increasing. And in 2016, most of those growing counties shifted left (toward Clinton) even as most of the exurban Midwest (including Illinois) shifted right (toward Trump). These concurrent trends suggest an increasingly polarized Illinois, leaning toward Democratic candidates but contingent on large turnout in Chicagoland. Polls suggest that much of the GOP’s midwestern gains may ebb in this cycle; where Pritzker wins on Tuesday will tell us a lot about these shifts.
Latest posts by Katherine Conte (see all)
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- Pritzker, Middle America, and the future of Illinois Politics - November 6, 2018