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Voters behaving oddly

Monday, Mar 4, 2013

* Sometimes, voters are strange

Webb said he voted for Halvorson, but the gun issue wasn’t the dominant one for him.

“She graduated from Bloom High School, and so did I,” Webb said, chuckling.

Webb’s wife said, “He made me come out and vote, too.”

When I asked her why she felt it was important, the answer took me by surprise.

“Because I’m voting against (Illinois House Speaker) Michael Madigan. I want to toss all the Madigan people out of office,” Mrs. Webb said.

So who was the anti-Madigan person she supported in the congressional race?

“To tell you the truth, I don’t remember who I voted for,” she replied.

“Fire Madigan” fails again?

* And

A man showed up at the Beckman Park polling place in Kankakee last Tuesday intending to vote in the primary election.

But he became irate upon learning he would have to choose either a Republican or Democratic party ballot, and he left without voting.

Understandable that he didn’t want to disclose his party affiliation, but that’s been the law of the land for 40 years or more here. Must’ve been his first rodeo. And it’s also a reason why some people won’t cross over to vote for another party’s candidate, even if they believe in that candidate’s agenda.

* Meanwhile, Robin Kelly’s pollster penned an op-ed

In January, we discovered that only 17 percent of likely voters had a favorable impression of the NRA, while 63 percent had an unfavorable impression of the group. Negative feelings towards the NRA outweighed positive ones among practically every demographic and regional bloc. Even self-described conservatives gave the NRA bad marks.

For several weeks, we hounded our opponents to release their NRA questionnaires. We sent seven pieces of mail to likely voters establishing Kelly’s bona fides on fighting gun violence and contrasting her record with her opponents. The race began to change dramatically.

By early February, Kelly nearly doubled her vote share from four weeks earlier. She surged into first place, leaping from 15 percent of the vote to 26 percent. Among the voters in our mail universe, Kelly’s vote share was a commanding 40 percent. Independence PAC had only been on the air for less than a week at that point and their ad only mentioned former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, but Kelly’s favorability was quickly rising while Halvorson’s standing was in a free fall.

In the ensuing weeks, the debate over gun violence continued to dominate the campaign. Kelly’s message resonated with voters, leading to 52 percent of the vote in a 16-candidate field.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:01 pm:

    The dynamics of this race were shaped several years before. Both Halvorsen and Hutchinson were elected to the state senate in a district that stretched into rural areas. Doing what good legislators do, they found common ground with those voters who support gun rights, and who mainly lived in the more rural parts of their district.

    Then they ran for Congress in a larger district that was more heavily suburban and urban than the senate district and the gun issue became an albatross around their necks.

    It’s a cautionary tale about being punished for doing the right thing for the right reasons. What works for a state senate candidate ends up placing a low ceiling on one’s political ambitions.

    I’d hope the moral to the story is for legislators to remain consistent and avoid pandering, but I think this lesson will be lost on others who find it easier to blame Mayor Bloomberg than to understand how district politics works.

  2. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:10 pm:

    Some voters are dumb? Who knew?

    As for analysis of the race, 47th has it down, but I’d like to add that Halvorson ran an atrocious campaign from top to bottom. Her only strategy was to have every black politician in the district running against each other so that a 300 vote precinct in Kankakee that broke huge her way would matter.

  3. - ChicagoModerate - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:11 pm:

    The Kelly campaign used a basic political tactic, define them before they can define you. They saw the only issue that separated the three women frontrunners in this campaign were guns and the NRA. Once that was found, they were unrelenting. Halvorson wanted to run a campaign on the cheap and it showed. At the very least she should have dumped all her money into field in the white areas to have as many people at the polls to be able to recitify issues like the one stayed above. The Bloomberg claim is just loser talk and no one likes a sore loser.

  4. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:11 pm:

    Rich said,

    “‘Fire Madigan’ fails again?”

    Since this was the Democrat primary, it seems to be a bi-partisan effort…

  5. - Fred's Mustache - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:15 pm:

    === “Because I’m voting against (Illinois House Speaker) Michael Madigan. I want to toss all the Madigan people out of office,” Mrs. Webb said. ===

    So now the Speaker controls Congress too? People need to get a clue.

  6. - Frank - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:18 pm:

    When this field first took shape I figured Halverson would win with 25 percent of the vote. That’s what she got, but it wasn’t enough because the field thinned before election day.

    Trotter’s trouble was a stroke of good luck for Robin Kelly and I’m not sure how they got Napoleon Harris out of the race, but the gun issue did effectively stop Toi Hutchinson’s campaign in its tracks. Those three dropping out of the race rendered Halverson’s 25 percent meaniless.

    Give the Kelly folks credit for recognizing the hot issues and doubling down on it. She immediately branded herself as the anti-gun candidate and the Bloomberg money came her way.

  7. - Sideliner - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:31 pm:

    Bloomberg spent an impressive amount of money for a chair at Madigan’s table.

  8. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:38 pm:

    ===but it wasn’t enough because the field thinned before election day===

    Maybe, but don’t put too much faith in what ifs on this topic.

    Remember, Kelly won Beales’ 9th Ward.

  9. - Just Observing - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:44 pm:

    The voters quoted above are further evidence that encouraging everyone to exercise their right to vote is not necessarily a good thing.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    ===Remember, Kelly won Beales’ 9th Ward.===

    That is the “rub” for me when anyone goes down and breaks this rac out with, “If ‘X’ was out” or “Had ‘X’ stayed in…”

    Kelly had 52%, won everywhere, and her NRA issue resonated so well, (See: Money, Ads, repeat) the rescipe of a different dynamic, this time, makes that “soup” not a different “soup” but “salad”.

    Hey ILGOP, congrats! “Fire Madigan” is sweeping … the congressional races?

    You should call that voter … maybe?

  11. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    And people routinely vote against their own interests. What’s new?

  12. - Wensicia - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 1:10 pm:

    It’s scary when people admit they don’t know who they’re voting for. It’s worse when they claim the person they’re voting against has no relationship to the contest or office up for vote.

  13. - Endangered Moderate Species - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 2:27 pm:

    I am pro-gun (Not pro NRA), but I felt Kelly’s team ran a textbook campaign.

    They found their strength (or the opponents weakness) and they never let off the pedal.

    Kudo’s to them for attracting the Bloomberg money.

    Kelly’s team played a great hand, especially since they didn’t receive aces for hole cards.

  14. - VanillaMan - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 2:29 pm:

    According to Kelly’s pollster, their entire campaign was based on an issue they believed they could exploit for politics only. Kelly proposed solutions she knew couldn’t pass Congress and weren’t solutions at all, but she could win the election with.

    She played voters as fools, and was rewarded for it.

    We can’t expect good government when the politics used to get into office are so cynical, disingenuous, and fraudulent.

  15. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 3:16 pm:

    ==She played voters as fools, and was rewarded for it.==

    I think that’s a bit harsh. In a campaign a short as this one was, there was no time craft a message with any sort of complexity nor to develop a personal story that would appeal to voters. Instead, the Kelly campaign took an issue that was already in the news (due to the mass shootings, Chicago’s gun death spike, and the CC ruling and debate) and used it as a vehicle. At the same time, Bloomberg was looking for a place to flex his muscle and it was the same issue.

    I would characterize this as the Kelly campaign identifying where the voters’ attention was directed and jumping on the issue in a way that showed Kelly’s alignment with the voters.

  16. - One to the Dome - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 4:08 pm:

    Rich. Beale losing his own ward is no suprise. He our has not supported others and they still won.. JJJ for example. He was running a old school campaign in a new school world… Truth is most voters didn’t care based on low turn out and 2 million from New York mayor buys a lot of name to the voters that showed up. Taking nothing away from Kelly, but without the front money defining Debbie and Toi, she would have had a big hill to climb

  17. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 4, 13 @ 5:22 pm:

    ===He was running a old school campaign in a new school world===

    I’m not sure I’d call that “old school.” Old school campaigns drag people to the polls if they have to. Beale? Not so much.

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