Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It only takes one to win

I recall an Election Night back when I was at the old City News Bureau when one of my brand-new colleagues was confused about the vote-counting process – she didn’t get why there were still votes being counted on a Wednesday afternoon.

Me being the “old pro” (I think it was my second election cycle I covered), I knew about the assorted ballots that don’t actually get counted until days after Election Day.

ALTHOUGH THE VOTES that do get counted usually offer up a clear-enough picture of “Who won?!?” that nobody really cares about the exact total.

It takes an election cycle like the one currently taking place for Illinois treasurer to remind us that there’s a reason it matters that the official vote certification doesn’t take place until December (as in the 8th, when the Illinois State Board of Elections will give us the final totals that will be recorded for political geek posterity).

For it has been just over a week since Election Day, and we don’t know yet who our new state treasurer is (although Republican Tom Cross has said he thinks it will be him, while Democrat Michael Frerichs says he’s not giving up).

I have noticed the Capitol Fax newsletter out of Springfield has put on its website a gadget that tries to give us the up-to-the-minute vote total. Although the fact that rural counties are doing nothing to update their total until the last possible minute means we really don’t know who won.

AS OF MID-DAY Tuesday, Cross allegedly had 1,671,018 votes to 1,670,526 votes for Frerichs. There also were 144,614 votes for Libertarian candidate Matthew Skopek.

When turned into the percentages that most people seem to prefer to think of, Cross has 47.93 percent of the vote to Frerichs’ 47.92 percent – with just over 4 percent for Skopek.

Considering that vote-by-mail ballots will stop being accepted on next week Tuesday, there are the prayers that an overwhelming Cook County vote (9,000 provisional ballots that have to be determined whether or not they are legitimate and count for anything) could somehow push Frerichs over the top.

Although there are others who think the fact that 101 rural counties went for Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner means they could also provide just enough additional votes to withstand any gains made by Frerichs – who as a Champaign resident wasn’t exactly someone Chicago voters were going to take up the cause of as a political crusade.

IF CROSS, WHO supposedly was the favorite because of his name recognition – although I doubt most real people have any clue who the legislative leaders are, with the exception of Michael Madigan – winds up winning, it would be something of a gain for Republicans.

I have heard some political operatives go on and on about how this is now a Republican-leaning state government because four of the six state constitutional officers would be of the GOP persuasion (nobody voted for Lt. Gov.-elect Evelyn Sanguineti specifically, but she counts as an individual).

Which is probably the reason why Democratic political operatives would like to win the post. It would make this the election cycle in which the political parties traded posts, rather than lost anything.

Although I don’t know anyone who’d trade “governor” for “treasurer.”

I’M NOT ABOUT to predict how close this one will wind up – although I realize that it only takes a one-vote margin to win the post for the next four years.

Perhaps we’re on our way to an Illinois version of that 1948 election for the Senate from Texas – where Lyndon Johnson got his victory by 87 votes.

“Landslide Lyndon” has more of a ring to it than any kind of nickname that would get tagged to either Cross or Frerichs. Although I’m sure either one would eagerly take a lead – no matter how slim it appears to the public.


No comments: