Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How It Works in Illinois: A Primer on Chicago-Dominated Politics

It is 3:45 a.m. I have just woken up downstairs, all snuggly on the couch. The television blares in the background, a small reminder that yesterday was election day. The results of the Illinois gubernatorial race remind me of the frustration some people have experienced all their lives when it comes to voting

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs. We did not identify ourselves as living in Chicago -- we lived in our town, or would say that we lived in an area of the suburbs. For example, I would say that I grew up in the far southwest suburbs of Chicago. We identified with Chicago, however. Watched Chicago television stations. Rooted for Chicago sports teams. We were kind of Chicago -- but the suburban type, not the city type. But I digress.

I have lived my entire adult life in central Illinois, or that area known as "downstate" to the Chicago folks. However, it is all a matter of perspective. People jokingly say that downstate, or southern Illinois, is "anything south of I-80." But actually, once you get outside the collar counties of Chicago, the rest of the counties are really more like each other than the city. And it shows in our voting.

With 99% of the precincts reporting, it looks like republican challenger Bill Brady, a state senator from central Illinois, will not unseat the incumbent democrat governor, Pat Quinn. The current vote tally: Quinn -- 1,694,196; Brady -- 1,685,847. 46% to 46% -- a difference of under 8,500 votes out of over 3,300,000 votes cast. A map of the votes by county tells the real story, however:

Yes, the red in the map signifies the counties won by the republican, Bill Brady. The blue Cook County (Chicago) vote is 866,088 to 389,267 -- 64% to 29%, or an almost 500,000 vote difference. For a republican to win, that candidate has to win virtually every county outside of Cook County and get about 1/3 of the Chicago vote. The republican candidate for senator, Mark Kirk, was able to do this, winning 48% to 46%, with a margin of victory of just under 100,000 out of over 3,400,000 votes cast. Kirk won EVERY county in the state except Cook and a small county at the far southern tip of the state.

Although not quite as extreme at the national level, the theme of the big city democrat population versus the rural republican population is alive and well. An exceptional candidate like Barack Obama is able to blur those lines in some areas, however.

The challenge for those governing is to somehow lead ALL the people. That task is daunting, however, as the election that just passed brought out the usual hate from loyalists and extremists in both parties. My goodness -- just imagine how vile things will be two years from now when it is time to elect a new president. Haters like television showmen Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck cannot wait. Time to consider a long vacation to Canada?

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Mondogarage said...

Great points to ponder.

In part, a lot of this goes to the inherent divergence of interests of urban and rural populations. Or, rather, each's self-perception of those interests. It looks more extreme on the Illinois map than some others, but that pattern certainly holds true here in Colorado, as well (as in many other states, I'm sure).

7:07 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home