A Turning of GOP Tide in Solidly Democratic Illinois


Written by Sara Burnett
Associated Press

The state where both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton used to live is still reliably Democratic when it comes to picking a president.

But drill a little deeper and it’s clear the political map changed, with more counties flipping from Democrat to Republican just as they did in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, helping Donald Trump become president.

While Trump won a smaller percentage of the state’s overall vote than Mitt Romney did in 2012 due to dismal support in Chicago and its suburbs, he won a dozen more counties than Romney. Those included large portions of northwest Illinois and one southern county that hadn’t backed the GOP presidential candidate since Richard Nixon’s landslide 1972 victory over George McGovern.

On Trump’s coattails, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the GOP eroded a Democratic supermajority in the Illinois House. But with Clinton atop the ticket, fellow Democratic women won statewide offices for U.S. Senate and comptroller.

Here’s a look at Tuesday’s results:


Illinois has long been divided, with Chicago, its suburbs and some downstate cities voting Democratic and the rest of the state solidly Republican.

That split widened this election year. Trump won 91 of Illinois’ 102 counties, compared with Romney’s 79 in 2012, and Trump also out performed Romney in almost all those places — in some by double digits.

Adrienne Logue is a substitute teacher who lives in rural Vermilion County, east of Champaign. Trump won more than 62 percent of the vote there, thanks to people like her. The married mother of three called choosing Trump over Clinton a “no-brainer.”

“He was against abortion, he is for my gun rights and the thought of Hillary Clinton appointing a Supreme Court justice that would tip the courts in favor of, it would be an anti-gun majority, it made my decision easy,” Logue said.

She liked that Trump stood up to the media and said he’d get rid of the Affordable Care Act. And she’s looking to him to bring back manufacturing jobs, like she believes President Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s.

“The ’80s were a great time to be alive,” Logue said. “That’s where the American dream for all people was attainable. I know it could be done again under Trump.”


Clinton dominated in Chicago and the collar counties, including DuPage — a place Obama barely won in 2012 but Rauner took easily in his 2014 defeat of then-Gov. Pat Quinn. Statewide, she received more than 55 percent of the vote.

Four in five women chose Clinton over Trump, according to exit polling conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks.

Susan Gilbert, a retired teacher from Naperville, said Trump’s comments about women were a factor in her supporting Clinton. The wealthy businessman was caught on a video boasting to a TV show host about groping women and was known to rank women based on their looks.

“It feels like we’re going backward,” Gilbert said after Trump’s win, adding that she cried when she watched his victory speech. “We’re going to lose our rights.”


The counties that flipped from Democrat to Republican include much of the northwestern part of the state and a few counties in southern Illinois, an area that has been affected by closings and layoffs at coal mines and steel plants.

Clinton was haunted on the campaign by remarks she made at a town hall that she was going to put “a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” a comment that came in the context of helping blue-collar workers adjust to new jobs and her plan to provide billions of dollars for training. But the damage stuck.

That, along with decreased turnout, may have been enough to flip the tiny Democratic stronghold of Alexander County, its county seat Cairo. Bordering Missouri and Kentucky, the county has voted for just one GOP presidential nominee — Nixon — since 1964.

On Tuesday, voters chose Trump, 53 percent to Clinton’s 45 percent.

This article was originally published by the Associated Press