Data on Illinois 2014 Midterm Election

While conventional wisdom argues that the Durbin/Oberweis contest was a cakewalk and the Quinn/Rauner race was a squeaker, James Newman of Northern Illinois University says, in fact, it is just the opposite.

Using an analytic tool called Rank-Mobility Index (RMI), Newman concludes that while Quinn had won only four counties in 2010, his vote margins were slim and he was carried to victory on the strength of the overwhelming margin in the perennial Democratic stronghold of Cook County. In 2014, within hours of poll closings, it was clear that this was not to be Quinn’s night – he had lost the downstate Democratic counties of St. Clair & Jackson, and his margin in Cook County was going to fall well short of his 2010 margin, and would not be nearly enough to eke out a victory for him this year.

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Newman says the differences between the 2008 and 2014 U.S. Senate race margins are much more dramatic than the 2010-2014 changes in the governor’s race. As usual, Cook County Democrats turned out in numbers sufficient to offset downstate Republicans and tip the balance to Durbin. But the breadth and depth of the Republican margins, especially when compared to the almost-all-blue map of 2010, is certainly an attention getter.

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The strongest gains in Democratic vote production were in three far-southern counties – Jackson, Alexander, and Pulaski, two of which had already demonstrated a strong Democratic margin in both the 2008 Senate race and the 2010 governor’s race. Central Illinois, from Bureau & LaSalle counties in the north to Effingham & Jasper counties in the south, demonstrated a solid Republican upswing, especially in Putnam, Mason, and Macon counties.

Those changes in relatively low population counties may not have been, by themselves, significant – until Democratic bastion Cook County is considered. The effectiveness of Democratic vote production in Cook actually declined relative to the other counties in the state – making it all the more important for Durbin to put in a strong showing downstate.

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This article was originally posted at the IllinoisReview.com website.