Monday, March 12, 2012

What lesson did we learn from ’10?

It seems there will be a significance to the upcoming primary elections to be held in Illinois some eight days from now – we’re going to get a bit more evidence as to which election from 2010 tells the true story about Illinois.
SANTORUM: The downstate preference

For if it is the general election from that year, then Mitt Romney likely is safe and will get a significant number of delegates to add to his national count toward his presidential dreams.

BUT IF IT turns out to be that year’s primary, then perhaps we’re going to be just like fellow Midwestern states like Missouri, Minnesota and Kansas and back Rick Santorum.

Heck, he may well claim to be a “favorite son” candidate on March 20 on account of the fact that he did his last year of high school at Carmel High in suburban Mundelein.

Not that I really think the one-time senator from Pennsylvania has all that much in common with Illinoisans as a whole. Yet I couldn’t help but notice that Chicago Tribune-commissioned poll published during the weekend that shows Illinois’ Republicans split, once again, along regional lines.

Those people who live in the Chicago suburbs who align with the Republican Party as a mechanism to keep Chicago proper from running roughshod over them seem to be more in line with one-time Massachusetts Governor (and Michigan native) Romney.

BUT WHEN YOU venture out beyond Joliet or Kankakee into that land known as “downstate,” it seems that Santorum has significant appeal (and sex advice columnist Dan Savage had best never set foot there, because the natives likely would do unspeakable harm to him for what he has done to the Santorum name).

According to the Tribune, their poll shows Romney 39 percent to 27 percent for Santorum in the outer suburbs that comprise the collar counties. In Cook County, Romney has a 39 to 30 percent lead.
ROMNEY: Suburbs strong enough?

Although one should keep in mind that Cook County has become so overwhelmingly Democratic that a 39 percent support total here does not necessarily translate into many votes for Mitt – and is the reason why Illinois as a whole will swing for Barack Obama come the Nov. 6 general elections.

But when one ventures into the parts of the state that don’t associate themselves with Chicago (the ones that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was trying to appeal to last week when he visited Peoria), there isn’t as much use for Mitt.

SANTORUM HAS, ACCORDING to the Tribune, a 35 percent to 29 percent lead over Romney in those 96 counties. In fact, Santorum has already started campaigning in the far southern end of Illinois – which is odd to those of us of a certain age because we can remember when the statewide political scene consisted of Democrats taking Cook County and a bulk of Southern Illinois counties, and the Republicans taking the rest of the state.

That’s not the way it works any longer – although the fact that the greater Chicago area as a whole has grown significantly is what has kept relevant the Democratic organization in Cook County and Chicago.

The bottom line is that the primary Election Day maps we’re going to see on March 21 (the ones colored county-by-county with various shades to indicate who won where) are going to resemble the 2010 maps.

A large swath of one shade (whichever color gets used to designate Santorum) will make Illinois look ever-so-unified – except for a tiny blotch of a contrasting color up at the far northeastern corner of the state.

THERE MAY BE also be an identical blotch on the southwestern edge (representing the two Illinois counties that are the spill-over of the St. Louis metropolitan area) for Romney. Then again, maybe there won’t.

But let’s not forget the 2010 primary, where that swath across the state was enough for Bill Brady of Bloomington to win the Republican nomination for Illinois governor over Kirk Dillard of suburban Hinsdale.

I’m sure that’s what the Santorum campaign is dreaming of – believing that “the people” will assert their will and give their preferred candidate a victory over the better-organized and funded campaign of Mitt Romney.

Unless it turns out that the general election from that year is more significant – where those blotches at the northeastern corner represented the overwhelming number of votes for Pat Quinn that came out of Chicago and suburban Cook that the whole rest of the state just could not overcome.
LINCOLN: Would this GOP push him back to Whigs?

FOR WHAT IT’S worth, the Tribune poll says Romney wins, 35 percent to 31 percent for Santorum (which is close enough that it falls within the poll’s margin of error).

So who’s to say just what’s going to happen come next week – other than to say that it is highly unlikely that Newt Gingrich will get any significant amount of support (only 12 percent, according to that poll) in the Land of Lincoln.

Which is kind of a shame. Because I can’t help but think that Lincoln himself had enough of a sense of humor that he’d get a chuckle at the idea of a “President Newt” and the comic relief he’d provide (albeit unknowingly) on the campaign trail.


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