Thursday, April 21, 2016

We in Illinois out-voted New York but did anybody really notice turnout?

An interesting point has been brought up on various politically-oriented websites – some 2.6 million people turned out to polling places this week in the New York primaries.

Much is being made of the fact that locals Hillary Clinton (once the state’s U.S. senator) and  Donald Trump (for many years, the state’s garish rube who generates so much copy with his life's gaudiness) got such large vote margins that the Empire State has practically ensured it will be a Clinton/Trump brawl for president come the November general elections.

YET IN ILLINOIS’ primary back in March, some 3.45 million people took the time to vote. Both Clinton and Trump had more people from Illinois cast ballots for them than there were New Yorkers who supported them.

Did anybody get all worked up, excited or bent out of shape over the notion that Illinois had somehow put the two candidates over the top, or clinched their ultimate victories?

Heck no.

Probably because it would have been ridiculous to make such a claim.

STILL, FOR ALL the claim that New Yorkers will try to give you these days that they’re somehow politically savvy and that it will be their New York “values” that somehow sets the tone of the 2016 general election for president, I have to wonder if it is Illinois – with its overtones of good ol’ Chicago politicking – that ought to be considered dominant?

It is kind of odd that New York’s population of 19.7 million people got voter out-turned by Illinois’ 12.7 million.

Particularly since the common perception in Illinois was that our turnout wasn’t all that spectacular. Not record-setting low, but certainly not as intriguing as back in 2008 when Barack Obama’s ballot presence inspired people to turn out in large numbers.

Yet more of our residents felt inspired to cast ballots this time around than the New Yorkers did.

OF COURSE, IT probably wasn’t any real interest in the president that inspired people from Illinois to want to cast ballots. It may well have been our overly-local sense of what is politically important that drove our turnout.

You know, the old sense of “up and out” that federal government is less important than the local crackpots who hang out at City Hall.

We had a state’s attorney election in Cook County where the Democratic primary amounted to the real thing – nobody really thinks Republican Christopher E.K. Pfannkuche is going to win come November.

We had that intriguing primary for Senate where Tammy Duckworth had to battle a bit to win the Democratic nomination to take on Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., come November.

THERE ALSO WERE assorted electoral posts that took on overtones of expressing one’s displeasure either with Mayor Rahm Emanuel or Gov. Bruce Rauner (and the fact that Emanuel prevailed more than Rauner doesn’t really mean we like him all that much).

In New York, people may have been motivated by the desire to pick a presidential candidate right now. In Illinois, we had higher priorities. I wonder how many people figured their presidential pick was an afterthought.

Then again, I also wonder how many New Yorkers are eager to have an all-New York presidential fight – since the potential for one actually existed back in 2008, but fell short.

Remember that could have been the Democrat Hillary versus Republican Rudy Giuliani election, with the potential of Michael Bloomberg running a third-party independent bid for election.

A NEW YORK trio – all of which got washed away by the Chicago influence that swept Obama into the White House for the past eight years.

Which I’ll admit as a political writer will be something I will miss – the idea that White House activity has a Chicago tinge to it.


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