Thursday, October 9, 2014

How Dem are we?

We Ask America is coming out with more polls, trying to document how the electorate may have shifted in recent weeks leading up to Election Day.

If those polls are at all reliable (the only real poll that matters is Election Day proper), it would seem that Illinois is coming back to its roots.

AFTER HAVING SPENT a summer engaged in a fling with Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner, it would seem that we're returning to Mr. Democrat instead. The trend across several races seems to be that Democratic candidates for state and federal offices in Illinois are taking leads, or getting dangerously close to the GOPers who were counting on many Dem voters breaking away from our usual leanings.

Perhaps they think the electorate is the equivalent of a hussy engaging in an affair. But all affairs come to an end, and it seems that Mr. Democrat will be forgiving of his electorate spouse for flirting, so to speak, with the enemy.

That We Ask America poll for the governor's election shows Pat Quinn with a 4-percentage point lead over Rauner -- which is about as big a lead as anyone has had Quinn with (unless you believed that 11-point lead the Chicago Tribune poll gave Quinn a few weeks ago).

Their poll for the U.S. Senate race showed Richard Durbin with a 13-point lead over Republican James Oberweis -- even though the ice cream millionaire seems content to live off the memory of that one poll over a month ago that had him lingering only 6 points behind Durbin.

THERE ALSO WAS the poll for Illinois treasurer, which shows Republican Tom Cross only 1 percent ahead of Democrat Michael Frehrichs -- a state legislator from Champaign and one of the few Dems from outside of Chicago metro to get any attention this election cycle.

One percent for a Chicago no-name is bad. It's within the margin of error. Theoretically, Frehrichs may be leading in reality, but it's too close to show up in the polls. Or maybe he's not.

For Frehrichs to defeat a former leader in the Illinois House of Representatives would truly be sad. This ought to be one of the races in which Republicans actually hold on to what they have (let's not forget the current Treasurer is Dan Rutherford).

But it could be that the large Democratic victory margins of voters coming out of Chicago, along with slightly smaller margins from suburban Cook County (which account for about 45 percent of the state's population) could wind up overcoming all the notions that political operatives have tried to put into our heads that everybody is anxious to try the Republican brand this year, and that Democrats ought to be quaking in their pants.

I'M NOT SURE what we should think of what will happen when the polls close the evening of Nov. 4. It's going to be several close races -- including the fight for governor where Rauner has kicked in tens of millions of dollars of his own money into an effort to buy the political post.

It makes me wonder how irrelevant his campaign would be if he were not so wealthy that he could afford to spend his own money, and actually had to raise it from political supporters like other candidates do.

This is going to remain a Democrat-leaning government for Illinois, regardless of what happens in the top political post (even though technically the top spot on the ballot is the U.S. Senate race).

In fact, it makes me wonder if the person who ought to be concerned is state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who could get caught up in the mess of people going out of their way to vote straight Democrat. Sheila Simon's campaign could wind up getting voter support from people who could care less about her personally.

THEN AGAIN, JUDY was always the "crazy aunt" of Republican politics in that she got along with Democrats too, and lived in suburban Riverside. Which makes her yet another Cook Connty resident.

It always made certain Republicans a little queasy about dealing with her, as if they thought she wasn't truly one of them.

But it also makes her one of the few Republicans that Cook County residents are comfortable voting for. That, and the way Simon dissed Quinn for not wanting to continue as his lieutenant governor running mate, probably will be the reason Judy survives the Illinois political scene, even though for many of us she's the "wrong" political party.


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