Thursday, September 8, 2016

Illinois no longer a bellwether state; Chicago too dominant for that to be true

The Washington Post let it be known Wednesday that when it comes to the Great Lakes states, they’re going to be paying attention to Ohio. The Land of Lincoln and its likely Election Day results just won’t be of enough intrigue.
Illinois would have had "President Hughes' in '16

Which is interesting in its own right, because it wasn’t all that long ago that Illinois was considered to be a state totally in line with the mood of the nation.

AS IN ONE could get a good sense of how a national election (actually, a collection of 50 state elections for national office) would turn out by paying attention to Illinois.

Just as political observers now say that a Republican can’t win if he can’t take the state of Ohio, it used to be that a presidential candidate can’t win if he can’t take Illinois.

Literally during the 20th Century, Illinois and its Electoral College representatives were almost always aligned with the person who actually won the presidential election.

The sole exceptions were in 1916 when Illinoisans preferred the idea of Republican Charles Hughes over that of Democrat Woodrow Wilson. And then again in 1976 when Illinois voters would just as soon have legitimized the idea of “President Gerald Ford” by giving him his own full term, rather than letting Democrat Jimmy Carter in office.

IN SHORT, ILLINOIS used to have a legitimate Republican Party. While Chicago was controlled by Democratic Party politicians, the rest of the state was significant enough to put up an Election Day fight!

And in cases where Chicago Democrats just couldn’t get all that enthused, the rest of the state could deliver Illinois to the Republican candidate.

Or in cases such as 1972 when Democrat George McGovern was just so incapable of capturing the nation’s mood that even Cook County went Republican and Richard Nixon won re-election with 59 percent of Illinois’ vote.

... and would never have had 'President Carter' in '76
None of this is capable of happening any longer, and it is a large part of why Election Days just don’t have the same thrill from a local perspective in this state.

THE FACT IS that Chicago metro (as opposed to the city proper) now dominates about two-thirds of the state’s population. Meaning the rural parts are just too small a segment for the Republican candidate to get anything from Illinois.

Democratic partisans may boast and say the reason Donald Trump’s presidential bid hasn’t spent more time in this state is because he’s scared – after all, he tried coming to Chicago back in May only to have his loud, obnoxious followers shouted down by the real majority.

The reality is we’re not seeing Trump because it’s not worth his time and effort to campaign much here. This state will give its 20 Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton come the date in December when they formalize the results of the Nov. 8 elections.

Which also means that no one talks anymore about how Illinois is symbolic of the national mood when it comes to political concerns. Now, all we’ll hear about is speculation about Ohio, and how a Trump victory there means he may well be just strong enough to actually win the general election.

IF ANYTHING, WE’RE the one Great Lakes state that is a shoo-in (unless you regard Indiana as a GOP lock, although Democrats in the Hoosier State have their delusions of winning come November).

The rest of the country will not care much about watching us here. There’s no political suspense.

Unless, by chance there was a Trump victory in Illinois, which would mean possibly that the Aztecs were off by four years when they predicted the End of the World come Dec. 21, 2012.

Or maybe the world really did end, and the fact that we’re now taking people like Trump with his boorish behavior seriously is evidence of that fact!


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