|Inside Obama’s Illinois Landslide|
|Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics|
|Tuesday, 23 March 2004 18:00|
Barack Obama’s victory in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary for Illinois looks a lot like Glenn Poshard’s 1998 Democratic gubernatorial primary win, only upside down.
Poshard won a bunch of small southern Illinois counties with overwhelming margins.
Obama did the same last week, only he won a lot of population-rich Chicagoland townships, wards, and counties with Elvis-like margins.
For instance, in suburban Cook County, Obama hit 87 percent in Oak Park Township, scoring 10,315 votes to Comptroller Dan Hynes’ 616. Yes, you read that right.
Obama did even better in Evanston Township, with 89 percent, and 13,058 total votes to Hynes’ 590. Obama took 84 percent in Rich Township, 82 percent in New Trier Township, 73 percent in Proviso Township, 78 percent in Thornton Township, 67 percent in Barrington Township, of all places, and 58 percent in Niles Township.
In suburban DuPage County, Obama scored 57 percent and received way more votes than Republican U.S. Senate nominee Jack Ryan, 35,770 to 25,276. Obama did the same thing in Lake County, taking 64.3 percent and beating Jack Ryan’s total by 14,000 votes; in Kane County, 56 percent and 5,000 more votes than Ryan; and in Will County, 49.5 percent and 7,000 more votes than Ryan. Then again, even Dan Hynes outpolled Ryan statewide by about 59,000 votes. The lowly Blair Hull got more votes than Steve Rauschenberger. Hey, at least he beat somebody.
In Chicago, Obama’s vote total was just 64,000 votes shy of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s 2003 primary results, even though Daley was all but unopposed and running for a fifth term.
Much, but not all, of Obama’s citywide showing of 66.6 percent is owed to black voters.
Black people are the most maligned voters in the state. They won’t vote if it’s cold, rainy, or snowing; they’re difficult to motivate even in good weather; they don’t care about some U.S. Senate candidate they’ve never heard of; they won’t vote if there’s no hot presidential race or super-controversial local race.
Out of 50 Chicago wards, 15 had turnout above 10,000, and 11 of those were black wards. Eleven. Four of the top five turnout wards were black. Those 11 black wards generated about 167,000 votes, and ended up providing a little under half of Obama’s citywide total and came close to matching Dan Hynes’ combined collar-county and Downstate vote.
John Daley’s 11th Ward didn’t hit 10,000. Ed Burke’s 14th Ward wasn’t even close to 10,000. Dick Mell’s 33rd Ward turned out about 5,800 voters.
From now on, if we’re gonna smear a class of voters for being lazy or disconnected from politics, let’s look down our collective noses at Republicans, white Democrats, and Latinos. They’re the culprits who failed to show up on Tuesday. African Americans did their bit, and more.
It also looks like Obama won wherever people saw his TV ads. Almost every county that receives Chicago TV, where Obama concentrated his buys, went with Obama – as far south as rural, mostly white Iroquois, as far west as DeKalb, and as far north as Lake and McHenry. Obama ran some late ads in Sangamon and Champaign counties, and he won them as well. (Obama outpolled Jack Ryan in Champaign County, by the way.) He came very close in St. Clair, after running a little TV there.
The quality of Obama’s ads is not in dispute. They were very good, particularly the one where he spoke directly to the camera. But their timing was also hugely important.
Obama’s first ad went up the day of the Illinois Radio Network debate, when Blair Hull imploded after refusing to answer questions about a domestic-violence incident. After that debate, the Chicago media turned against Hull, giving his opponents an opening.
The Obama ads gave former Hull supporters and leaners a place to go right away, and they never left. Then came super-strong endorsements from the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and the suburban Daily Herald, which added to the bandwagon syndrome. When the black vote kicked in, the incredible surge became a massive tidal wave.
On the Republican side, Jack Ryan defeated his closest rival, Jim Oberweis, by 12 points. But if the Chicago Tribune wins its case and forces open Ryan’s sealed divorce records, and the rumors about those records are true, he could find himself off the ticket in a matter of weeks. There’s little sense analyzing Ryan’s win until we find out if he’ll even be around this November.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter. He can be reached at (http://www.capitolfax.com).
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