Democracy Soup

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Learning from IL primary: Voters are upset if they do come out to vote

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Yes, the Illinois primary stands alone like the person who shows up for a 7 p.m. party at 2 in the afternoon. But there are lessons to take away to help us understand the 2010 primaries.

Elections themselves don’t require a huge amount of time. You could take the time you spent watching the three-hour premiere of the last season of “Lost” and have used it to do a little basic research, driven/walked to the polls, and voted.

Yet, if there isn’t a presidential bid at stake, turnout is pathetic. The turnout for Illinois (and Chicago) was dismal, with Chicago expected to set an all-time low for a primary. The numbers on the screen were 25%. No wonder politicians aren’t scared of the people to give them what they want.

Those who consider themselves Democratic hate low turnouts in elections since — generally speaking — Republicans come out and vote regardless and Democrats have to be motivated. As if looking at the political landscape isn’t enough to scare you into the voting booth.

The good news for those voters who came out to vote is that your vote counted — really, really counted. Ask the frontrunners on the Democratic and Republican races for governor. Incumbent Governor Pat Quinn and State Senator Bill Brady currently lead those races. But there are still a tiny amount of votes to count, and recounts are likely.

You have to wonder if you are Dan Hynes this morning, maybe you did pick the wrong race. You may have barely lost the race for governor, but it looks like you could have waltzed in and been the Senate nominee this morning. Obama buddy and current Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias did win the nomination for the Democratic Party. But the fact that very little known David Hoffman came rather close to beating Giannoulias should make Democrats nervous. Hynes, with his track record and name recognition, would have risen to the top.

Giannoulias won 39% of the 25% who came out, so you have to figure out Giannoulias won the vote of about 10% of the eligible electorate. Giannoulias faces Congressman Mark Kirk, who cruised easily to the GOP nomination.

Yet, in this strange cycle, Giannoulias may have one gigantic advantage over Kirk: Giannoulias isn’t a Washington insider. Those in Illinois are going to hear a LOT of that theme. Kirk will counter with Broadway Bank, a source of controversy for its loans and other problems. The Giannoulias family owns Broadway Bank, though Giannoulias’ connection hasn’t been there since he was elected treasurer in 2006.

Still, Democratic voters will likely hold their nose in November and vote for Giannoulias, a problem they wouldn’t have had with Hynes or Hoffman.

Ina few Congressional districts of note, Kirk’s old 10th Congressional district (CD) seat will be filled either by Dan Seals (D) or political rookie Robert Dold (R). Seals lost the last two races to Kirk, and barely edged out State Rep. Julie Hamos. In the 14th CD, Bill Foster (D-IL) won’t be running against Ethan Hastert, son of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and former 14th CD rep. Thr younger Hastert lost to state Sen. Randall Hultgren.

The anti-incumbency feel has a shot of making an impact. Though Pat Quinn’s supporters said it would be a close race, Quinn shouldn’t have had that much pressure; he’s only been in office for a year after the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich. Quinn also had the luxury of not being tainted by Blagojevich, since they didn’t get along well even before the controversy. And Chicago TV stations had to resort to Skype to talk to the likely GOP nominee for governor, since few gave Brady a shot at even being a contender. The low turnout and anti-incumbency feel does spell bad news for the Democratic Party unless they start paying attention to voters’ needs.


Written by democracysoup

February 3, 2010 at 9:40 am

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