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Fun with numbers

Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012

* The Southern Illinoisan reports that 147,318 presidential votes were cast in the state’s 15 “southern” counties. Those counties exclude the Metro East.

The totals from those 15 southern counties was about the same number of presidential votes cast in McHenry County alone, which is not exactly a huge population center. The southern Illinois total was about half the presidential votes cast in Will and Lake counties. It was 37 percent of the number of votes cast in DuPage County. And it was just 15 percent of the number of votes cast in suburban Cook County.

For whatever reason, some people still insist that counties matter during statewide elections. We’ve all seen it before. “Pat Quinn won only four counties!” But voters, not counties, matter in elections. Fifteen counties doesn’t mean a whole lot when very few people actually live there.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - shore - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 9:46 am:

    cook political report pointed out obama won only 23 percent of counties in Illinois and that in a number of states he won he also won under 30 percent of them. It’s not a huge thing but one of those interesting nuggets you get post election.

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    It’s always been a bizarre argument, absolutely meaningless.

    But it seems to me that it also encourages much Chicago and Cook bashing among downstate GOPers.

    That’s simply a strategy for oblivion.

  3. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 9:53 am:

    There is a tough political choice to make when running state-wide. You need to show concern for all 102 counties, and bounce it against the reality that there are only 18 counties that produce the vast majority of votes, and lie on major interstates. Obama realized much the same thing when he only campaigned in 9 of the 50 (or 57 or whatever) states.

  4. - MrJM - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 9:56 am:

    Dirt don’t vote.*

    – MrJM

    * Aphorism not valid in US Senate.

  5. - Dirty Red - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 10:00 am:

    Hopefully Mr. Metro and his staff remember that the next time they do another “State of Chicago” wisecrack.

  6. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 10:06 am:

    –You need to show concern for all 102 counties–

    You’re missing the point. Counties are artificial and arbitrary units when it comes to state politics and government.

    Voters and citizens matter, no matter where they are. Who in the world defines themselves by their county — except for perhaps county office-holders?

    The problem for the GOP in recent years is that they’ve sought to define themselves largely in opposition to the 40% of citizens who live in Cook County. Not exactly a homogenous bunch, by the way.

    But the GOP message, repeated over and over, in the face of all reason, is that Cook County citizens are some sort of parasite and the other 101 counties are victims.

    That’s just stupid, but it largely explains the GOPs ridiculously poor electoral performance here.

    And I’m pretty sure in the general election the presidential candidates kept the same basic campaign schedule in the battleground states.

  7. - Rusty618 - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 10:18 am:

    So I guess those other 98 counties that don’t mean much, because nobody lives there, can blame those 4 counties that carried Quinn for electing such a winner!

  8. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 10:32 am:

    Counties are just a convenient geographical representation. Would you prefer I use coordinates? Reading carefully, you would realize I am making the exact point you are, the highest density of voters can be defined in a 18 discreet areas that are connected by interstates for easy access.

  9. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 10:43 am:

    Rusty, the point is, one person/one vote no matter where you live and counties are a meaningless unit of measurement.

  10. - The Captain - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    The Illinois portion of the Paducah media market differs from the Southern Illinoisan’s 15 county totals only slightly, swap out Gallatin for Hamilton counties. The percentage of the statewide share for that media market has declined slightly over the last 20 years, but not by that much. It was 3.67% of the total statewide vote back in 1990 whereas in 2010 it was 2.90%. The Chicago media market has been growing at the expense of all of downstate but it’s not like southern Illinois is substantially less influential than it used to be, it’s just in a gradual decline compared to the total state population.

  11. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 10:50 am:

    I remember in the 06 midterms geographic balance was a great big honking deal, particularly in the primary for Treasurer.

    Now, not so much. I guess Rutherford is the standout? Not really, though.

  12. - Irish - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    Herein lies the problem of the state as a whole and the problem of the GOP.

    Democrats tend to sponser candidates that come out of Chicago and have the backing of the Democratic machine. While these candidates make half hearted attempts to engage the rest of the state they know they have the support of the voters in The Chicago area so they do not totally committ themselves to the whole state. They also tend to send a lot of money to Chicago when they are coming up for re-election to maintain that support.

    In recent years the IGOP has focused on the differences between downstate and the chicago Area and have tried to rally the trrops against Chicago and the Democrats. They fail to realize that when they did well in the Governor’s race and other statewide races they did so with candidates who played well in Chicago. Those candidates had messages that Chicagoans were receptive to.
    There has been a bit of a change that has made being a GOP candidate in Illinois a little harder. GOP candidates used to have support from the collar counties that used to be GOP strongholds. It was not that long ago that the “Collar Counties” controlled a lot of what went on in Springfield. As has been pointed out on this blog those collar counties have seen an influx of new residents who have been courted by the Democrats and have been won over by them in recent elections. The GOP needs to cultivate those voters and put forth a downstate candidate that plays well in the Northeast quarter of the state if they have any hope of winning.
    We have also seen that in some areas of the Chicago area voters will elect anyone that is home grown even though they might not be fit to serve. I am hoping this trend does not continue.

  13. - Yahoooz - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    Could someone possible educate me to what the population of those counties are? I just was wonderingg out of the people that did vote what percentage of the population they represent. I know that in my area downstate it seems most people don’t even take the time to vote so was just curious.

  14. - amalia - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 11:16 am:

    There’s a book called something like How to Lie with Statistics. this counties/states/miles of people not voting for Obama/Dems thing is in the realm of that. What matters is votes within the voting jurisdiction. And on that, the Chicago area rules Illinois.

  15. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 11:19 am:

    - Democrats tend to sponser candidates that come out of Chicago and have the backing of the Democratic machine. -

    You have this backwards. Statewide Democrats understand where the most votes are, and what issues are most important to those voters.

    Some GOP candidates have figured this out too, you don’t see JBT or Rutherford diving deep in the anti-gay, anti-choice crowd. Worked wonders for them in the general.

  16. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 11:32 am:

    ==It’s always been a bizarre argument, absolutely meaningless.

    It’s not so bizarre when you remember many states apportioned at least one house in their state lege by counties. So historically it has plenty of precedent. It’s just that dang Baker V. Carr that struck down inequitable apportionment and created the standard of one person one vote.

    So it’s not bizarre–it’s harkening back to the bad old days.

  17. - train111 - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 11:56 am:

    When illinois did its first redistricting in 50+ years in 1955 part of the ‘buy-in’ to get downstate to agree to the proposal was to have the State House of Representatives divided into districts by population and the State Senate divded into districts by area. That gave Cook County control of the House, but downstate maintained control of the Senate. (Downstate had control of both for many years and that is why there was no redistricting between 1901 and 1955 as they would lose that control.)
    That Baker vs Carr ruling killed the ‘little federal’ plan of apportionment and the State Supreme Court forced the State Senate to be divided into districts by population in 1965.


  18. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 12:02 pm:


    Here’s a start for you. Also check the State Board of Elections where you can get a table of votes by county.

  19. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

  20. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 12:15 pm:


    Thanks–couldn’t find the specific details on Illinois.

  21. - train111 - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 12:21 pm:

    I’ve done quite a bit of digging into past Illinois apportionments. Interesting stuff: However it’s all stuff that makes Mrs Train say “Get a life”


  22. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    ==I’ve done quite a bit of digging into past Illinois apportionments. Interesting stuff: However it’s all stuff that makes Mrs Train say “Get a life”

    Been there.

  23. - reformer - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 2:08 pm:

    So 147,000 votes for president were cast in 15 southern IL counties. The three biggest townships in NW Cook — Wheeling, Maine and Schaumburg — cast 163,567 presidential votes.

    Six NW Cook Twps, not counting tiny Barrington, cast 270,059 votes.

  24. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 2:33 pm:

    This is why Brady failed so miserably in 2010. “Hey, I’m gonna take my big old bus around to small towns, raise a few bucks and really slam Chicago.” As Oswego Willy deftly pointed out last week, Brady could have been elected if he garnered just a few extra votes in each of the Chicago precincts and focused more on suburban Cook.

  25. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 3:11 pm:

    ===As Oswego Willy deftly pointed out last week, Brady could have been elected if he garnered just a few extra votes in each of the Chicago precincts and focused more on suburban Cook.===

    Thanks for listening. Appreciate that.

    GOP, do not give up Cook or the City …Just make the cake and vote those prcincts as close as you can to what is 100% Republican. You may be pleasantly surprised.

    Dirt don’t vote, but Cook and Chicago have votes, just “dig” them up.

  26. - nieva - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 3:21 pm:

    I live in Gallatin County. Our population has decreased by about from around 7000 in the 60s to under 5000 now. Even with their love of guns, church they still vote Democrat and allow the likes of Forby to represent them. He makes a show about coal and gun rights but when the time comes votes however MJM tells him to. So when they complain about Chicago Politics down here all I can say is it will never change. They keep talking about conceal carry but it will never happen.

  27. - Flan - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 3:32 pm:

    As someone from one of those Southern counties, I really couldn’t agree more. We get this all the time here. “No one listens to us!” etc etc. Well, there’s more in the Metro East than most of the bottom 15 counties together. It’s a democracy, not a county-ocracy.

  28. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 4:19 pm:

    Indicative of the problem…here is a comment on the referenced story from The Southern:
    piedpiper: “It wasn’t just southern Illinois; I did some research this morning. Of the 102 counties in the state Obama “won’ a whopping 22. One the ones he won was Cook. Take them out of the picture and Illinois woulda went Romney.”

    If you ‘take them out of the picture’ you would have Iowa without the urban charm…and about 3 electoral college votes.

  29. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 4:20 pm:

    ==. Well, there’s more in the Metro East than most of the bottom 15 counties together.==

    Correct. Madison and St. Clair County together recorded about 240,000 presidential votes.

  30. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 4:29 pm:

    ====If you ‘take them out of the picture’ you would have Iowa without the urban charm===

    And taxes far higher than Iowa’s. Without the suburbs, Downstate would have to pull all its own weight. It wouldn’t be pretty.

  31. - The Captain - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 5:01 pm:

    === they still vote Democrat and allow the likes of Forby to represent them. He makes a show about coal and gun rights but when the time comes votes however MJM tells him to. ===

    Bicameral. It’s the word of the day, feel free to look it up. It will be very useful in understanding why the above is hilarious.

  32. - ArchPundit - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 5:23 pm:

    ==Take them out of the picture and Illinois woulda went Romney.”

    Just get rid of all of the soylent green and the problem is solved.

  33. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, Nov 14, 12 @ 9:14 pm:

    Counties were established in the 19th century. Illinois has a lot (102?). Many are not small in population but also small geographically. Arbitrary spatial creations.

  34. - Yahoooz - Thursday, Nov 15, 12 @ 2:25 am:

    Thanak you Cinnicinatus(sp)

  35. - What planet is he from? - Thursday, Nov 15, 12 @ 9:37 am:

    Am I remembering my Civics class right that this is exactly the reason the Electoral College was formed, so that candidates couldn’t just concentrate on the most densely populated areas?

  36. - David W. Aubrey - Thursday, Nov 15, 12 @ 9:37 am:

    Bill Brady would have won sans two things:

    1. Scott Lee Cohen picking up the non-Democratic protest votes in Cook County & Will County. The Quinn campaign made the wise decision not to challenge Cohen’s candidacy early having realized this.

    2. Bill Brady took positions on teachers pensions (shifting them to 401Ks) and on women’s health (opposing birth control) that invited outside spending that from NRAL & the NEA. That was an unforced error by Brady.

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