disgraced and departed John Edwards, who was the
Democratic candidate for vice president in 2004,
once mused that there are "two Americas"
-- rich and poor. That cliche can be applied
locally: There are "two Chicagos" --
white and nonwhite.
a sample ballot prepared by the Cook County
Democratic Party, which features President Barack
Obama's photo, county chairman Joe Berrios, the
Democrats' candidate for assessor, proclaims that
Obama's "work has just begun . . . keep his
agenda on track" and adds "the
Republican smear machine is fully operational . .
. (and) will turn back the progress" of
literature is already in the dumpster behind every
Northwest Side Democratic headquarters. "With
all due respect, Obama has become poison among
working-class voters," said one area
Democratic committeeman. "The level of
hostility is astounding."
said in his inaugural address that it "took a
lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we
are today." On Nov. 3, after a night of blood
and tears, the Democrats will begin to sweat the
2012 election, when Obama will be on the ballot.
are two salient truths:
Illinois' gargantuan 2008 Obama vote of 3,419,348
will shrivel in November. The 2008 turnout of 5.57
million will regress to a normal off-year turnout
of 3.6 million. In Cook County, the 2008 turnout
of 2.2 million will decline to the 1.35 million
level of 2006. That means far fewer Democratic
"undecided" voters invariably break
against the incumbent or the incumbent party.
the governor's race, incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn
is still below 40 percent in most polls, while
Republican Bill Brady is slightly above 40
percent. Independent Scott Lee Cohen is polling in
the 10 to 15 percent range, and Green Party
candidate Rich Whitney is getting 3 to 5 percent.
Quinn has been relentlessly blasting Brady, but if
half the undecided vote of 5 to 8 percent break
for Brady, he wins.
the U.S. Senate race, both contenders, Republican
Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, are
damaged goods. If voters had a "Return to
Sender" line, it would surely prevail. Both
candidates have significant character flaws, and
neither has polled anywhere near 50 percent. Kirk,
like Brady, is mired in the low 40s, but he is
ahead of Giannoulias. The undecided vote is 10 to
15 percent. The Green Party and Libertarian Party
candidates will amass 5 to 8 percent of the vote.
Kirk wins if the gets half the undecideds.
are my Nov. 2 predictions:
Senate: The Democrats have a 59-41 majority.
Republicans will gain nine Democratic seats:
Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota,
Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and
Wisconsin. They will hold open Republican seats in
New Hampshire, Missouri, Ohio, Alaska, Kansas and
Kentucky. Prediction: It will be a 50-50 Senate.
Illinois, where turnout will be around 3.5
million, the "magic number" is 1.6
million. The 2008 Senate race was won by Democrat
Dick Durbin 3,615,844-1,520,621, with 67.8 percent
of the vote, and Obama beat John McCain
3,419,348-2,031,179, getting 61.9 percent of the
vote. To win in November, Kirk needs 78 percent of
the McCain vote, while Giannoulias needs just 47
percent of the Obama vote.
indicate that the Republicans are more
"energized" than the Democrats, but Kirk
loses unless 500,000 Obama backers defect to Kirk
or 1.8 million don't vote. That's possible.
Giannoulias is fervently embracing Obama, who is
cutting television ads for him.
1998, an auspicious Republican year, Republican
Peter Fitzgerald beat flawed incumbent Democrat
Carol Moseley Braun by 98,545 votes, getting 50.4
percent of the vote, carrying the 96 Downstate
counties by 328,264 votes and the five Collar
Counties by 164,442 votes, and losing Cook County
by 394,161 votes. Kirk must do likewise.
prediction: Kirk will lose Cook County by 375,000
votes and prevail elsewhere by 390,000 votes for a
Brady will replicate Judy Baar Topinka's 2006 vote
of 1,369,315 and add another 150,000 votes from
his Downstate base. Prediction: In a 3.7 million
turnout, Brady will beat Quinn by 80,000 votes,
with 41 percent of the vote, with Cohen getting
more than 650,000 votes (17.5 percent), to
1,440,000 (39 percent) for Quinn. Republicans Dan
Rutherford and Topinka will win the contests for
state treasurer and comptroller, respectively.
House: The Democrats' 255-178 majority will
evaporate. Forty-two Democratic seats are rated as
turnovers, including three in Illinois, which
would give the Republicans 220 seats. Another 34
are rated as toss-ups -- an unenviable position
for any incumbent. Another 53 Democratic seats are
best-case scenario for Democrats: A 230-205
minority, losing 50 seats. A worst-case scenario:
A hefty Republican majority of 255-180. My
prediction: 250-185, an astounding Republican gain
of 72 seats and the end of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's
sidelight: In the 14 southern states, with 145
congressional seats, Republicans hold an 82-63
majority. The Republicans likely will gain 24
seats in the region, giving them a 106-39
majority. Since 106 is nearly half the House
majority, the Republican ascendancy looks
permanent. After this election, almost every
white-majority southern district will be held by a
Republican and the Democrats will be relegated to
minority districts. A new "Solid South"
Illinois, where Democrats have a 12-7 edge in the
congressional delegation, five seats are in play.
It's all about Obama. The key: In November every
Democrat's vote will decline by 5 to 10 percent,
and every Republican's will spike by a like
amount. That means that the Democrats who won in
2008 with less than 60 percent of the vote are in
the rural 11th District (Joliet, Ottawa,
Kankakee), incumbent Democrat Debbie Halvorson,
who got 58 percent of the vote in 2008, will pay a
price for her Obama fealty. She will lose to
Republican Adam Kinzinger. In the far south
suburban 14th District (Fox River Valley, Aurora
to Elgin), incumbent Democrat Bill Foster, who got
58 percent of the vote in 2008, also has been
pro-Obama. He will lose to Republican Randy
the western Illinois 17th District, which meanders
along the Mississippi River from Rock Island to
Decatur, pro-Obama incumbent Democrat Phil Hare,
who was unopposed in 2008, is in trouble. He will
lose to Republican Bobby Schilling.
the cusp are the 8th (McHenry County) and 10th
(Cook County's North Shore) districts, represented
by Democrat Melissa Bean and Kirk, respectively.
The pro-Obama Bean got 61 percent of the vote in
2008. Kirk eked out a 14,802-vote, 53 percent, win
in 2008 over Dan Seals, who ran as an Obama
champion. Seals faces Republican Bob Dold, and he
is trying to distance himself from the president.
Back in 1976, Democrat Abner Mikva beat incumbent
Republican Sam Young by 201 votes. It will be
equally close in 2010. Prediction: Dold wins.
Senate: With their 37-22 majority, Senate
President John Cullerton and his Democrats have a
veto-proof three-fifths majority. That will be
least six Democratic seats are at risk: Mike Bond
(31st) of Lake County, Mike Noland (22nd) of
Elgin, Deanna Demuzio (49th) of Carlinville, A.J.
Wilhelmi (43rd) of Joliet, Toi Hutchinson (40th)
of Kankakee and appointed John Mulroe (10th) of
the Northwest Side.
detailed in last week's column, more than $1
million will be spent by both parties to capture
Jim DeLeo's seat, to which Mulroe was appointed.
Alderman Brian Doherty (41st), the Republican
candidate, is being hammered for his pro-Daley
City Council votes. Mulroe is being excoriated for
holding "three patronage jobs"
generating $150,000 in income. Prediction:
Democratic organizations in the 45th and 38th
wards will not deliver more than 55 percent of the
vote for Mulroe. Doherty will win by more than 500
votes. The next Senate will be 32-27 Democratic.
House: Speaker Mike Madigan's 70-48 Democratic
majority will take a hit, but the question is how
much. At least 12 Democratic seats are in play,
and the Glenview 17th District of outgoing
Republican Beth Coulson could flip. Prediction:
Republicans will gain a net of nine seats,
shrinking the imperious Madigan's majority to
County Assessor: Mayor Rich Daley's retirement
sucked the oxygen out of independent Forrest
Claypool's campaign. Claypool has failed to ignite
voters or to construct a viable coalition of
anti-Obama conservatives and pro-Obama (but
anti-Machine) liberals. Berrios, of Puerto Rican
heritage, is clinging tightly to Obama's cloak.
His strategy is to appeal to the party's black and
Hispanic base and have white committeemen deliver
40 to 50 percent of the vote in their wards.
"All Joe cares about is electing
himself," said the committeeman. White
committeemen will ignore Berrios.
In Cook County, blacks comprise 30 percent of the
registered vote and Hispanics make up 7 percent.
Claypool would win a one-on-one contest, but with
the Republican candidate drawing 15 percent of the
vote, Claypool will fall short by 50,000 votes.
County Board President: The putrid stink of Todd
Stroger's reign is wafting away, but the
Republicans won't benefit. Alderman Toni
Preckwinkle, the Democratic nominee, is a black
woman with no scandals and no tie to Stroger.
"She will raise taxes," said Republican
Roger Keats, a former state senator who has run a
valiant campaign. He needs 25 percent of the black
vote, and he won't get it. Prediction: Preckwinkle
wins with over 60 percent of the vote.