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How many niche voters make a majority?

Monday, Jun 16, 2014

* If you Google “GTCR” and “Niche” you get about 136,000 results. That was the inspiration for my Crain’s Chicago Business column

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner leads Gov. Pat Quinn in every poll. Prognosticator Nate Silver recently gave Mr. Rauner a 75 percent chance of victory.

But since Illinois is such a traditionally Democratic state, Mr. Rauner appears to be using a lesson he learned at his former private-equity firm as a road map to victory.

Under his leadership, Chicago-based GTCR LLC specialized in buying successful “niche” companies and then using their profits and expertise to expand in their respective industries.

Mr. Rauner followed this niche approach to win the GOP nomination. He started with his big-business pals, who in the past have been divided over candidates. But this time they were all with him, including those who previously had supported his opponents.

Because he’s pro-choice, Mr. Rauner had some trouble gaining traction with tea party groups, which still have some power, at least nationwide, as U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor learned to his dismay on June 10. But a new tea party chapter popped up in January in the southwest suburbs. Mr. Rauner has used that group’s kindness, along with his backing for term limits to push state legislators out of office, to eventually make some inroads.

All of that and much more combined to help him win a narrow victory in the March 20 primary.

Mr. Rauner is using the same strategy for Nov. 4.

Click here to read the rest.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


20 Comments
  1. - William j Kelly - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 9:39 am:

    It doesn’t surprise me Rauner niched out a victory with the help ofRahm’s billionaires in the republican primary but Rahm’s billionaires will only hurt him in the general.


  2. - Usually Silent Observer - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    Excellent analysis of the Rauner strategy, Rich. Scary, if it works.


  3. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 9:44 am:

    I read this morning in another op-ed piece that Rauner’s firm GTCT had only one Latina, two Asian-descended people and…zero African-Americans as top executives.

    The Rauner Campaign postures with two African-Americans and a Latino in TV commercials, but in real life, few are to be found in the top reaches of a company that enriched Rauner.

    Quinn ought to make a strong play for suburban women. Women tend to be more liberal or Democratic than men. Obama creamed Romney with women in exit polls.


  4. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    Excellent analysis of the Rauner strategy, Rich. Scary, if it works.

    Guess I am missing why it is ’scarry’…

    Also G of M, nice job repeating the Quinn talking points there…


  5. - Hit or Miss - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    Bruce Rauner’s campaign has featured an ad with his wife saying he “doesn’t have a social agenda”. We also know he’s pro-choice. Tea party members are big on a wide range of social issues. Will tea party members back Rauner only because they like Quinn even less or will they just sit the election out?


  6. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 9:57 am:

    Will tea party members back Rauner only because they like Quinn even less or will they just sit the election out?

    As the ads begin to appear that make Rauner look like the devil for union members it is going to push a lot of the tea party types to him. Not sure if that is going to be all that helpful.


  7. - A guy... - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    Thoughtful article. Good and interesting. Not completely sure I agree with every conclusion. A successful campaign often reflects back the values of the voters who have shared their views. The Tea Party is an interesting mix of folks including many Democrats. Their stripes are more Libertarian by nature. What they have in common with Rauner is a same lack of emphasis on social issues for the most part. They tend to follow the money, tax money. Some of these niches defy the term “niche” as small groups. A lot of them are pretty big to be called a niche.


  8. - dupage dan - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:07 am:

    Bruce Rauner - the Arthur Chu of election campaigns.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    Love this one, Rich.

    It’s the Rauner “Cake”

    Doesn’t want Republicans unless you are lemmings, or can be converted to Raunerites, or even better, Raunerbots bragging about voting against their better self…

    Doesn’t want conservatives or Tea Party groups overtly supporting him, as Rauner rolls out his wife, and uses his wife for “liberal” decisions like a prop. If conservative or Tea Party members are kept ignorant, and vote for Rauner, the joke is on them, as Rauner laughs at the Press.

    It’s about the ILGOP Nomination being won as the way to the Finals, not about anything GOP.

    Now can Rauner’s Crew “vote” his cake to win?

    Not without a GOTV against Quinn and the Unions.

    Raunerbots love to be duped by “Bruce”, so educating the non- lemmings will make this cake un-bake.

    That is where it is now.


  10. - Illinois taxpayer - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    The black ministers strategy is a loser. Rauner isn’t going to get a significant A-A vote. He’d be better off stopping the charade on gay marriage, so that swing voters get more comfortable with him.


  11. - Demoralized - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:27 am:

    ==The Tea Party is an interesting mix of folks including many Democrats. Their stripes are more Libertarian by nature.==

    I have no idea what “Tea Party” you are talking about but it certainly isn’t today’s Tea Party.


  12. - anon - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:29 am:

    Even the tea party people know that the southside tea party group is Rauner’s propped up group. Come on. Be honest about who is running that show. The same people who rigged the Cook County endorsement for Rauner.


  13. - Cassandra - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    I can’t help but think that Rauner is doing well in all those polls because he is Not Quinn, broadly speaking.

    But in the voting booth–will Democrats in our heavily Democratic state split their ticket. Are they that angry at Quinn? He has about four months and zillions of tax-funded program dollars to convince them to stay with him while presenting Rauner as a cruel rich guy with minimal to no understanding of how to run state government. Not sure how effective Rauner has been in combating this image so far. Does it matter? If the Not Quinn vote is strong, Rauner’s presentation may not matter. But Illinois voters have a long history of tolerance of really bad, even corrupt pols, so in the end, I predict most Democrats will stay with their guy.


  14. - Wumpus - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    Illinois Tapayer, Rauner does not need 40-50% of the black vote. he needs to make a dent in the 90-95% that dems traditionally get. If that number could get down to 80-85%, even in Cook County, it’d be monumental.

    The fact that Nate Silver is predicting a win is monumental at this stage.


  15. - A guy... - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    === Demoralized - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:27 am:

    ==The Tea Party is an interesting mix of folks including many Democrats. Their stripes are more Libertarian by nature.==

    I have no idea what “Tea Party” you are talking about but it certainly isn’t today’s Tea Party.===

    Demo, the “Tea Party” is a very loose confederation of folks to say the least. At the local levels, I guess you might be stunned how many Dems are very active. It may be counter-intuitive to you, but it’s true among the DuPage County chapters. They look to be diverse in every way; politically, economically, socially, etc. They’re one firm commonality is that they are anti-tax.


  16. - Demoralized - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    @A guy:

    You are right about the original Tea Party movement and maybe they have kept their identity where you live, but I would argue as a general rule they have been co-opted by a more radical right-wing sector of the Republican party.

    In any event, if Rauner can succeed at piecing together bits of different groups more power to him. It’s a tightrope walk that so far he appears to be doing ok.


  17. - Walker - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    The “all-others” strategy can work by pulling together everyone who’s against incumbents.

    The trick is not to resonate so well with their “anti” feelings that you amplify them right into no-shows at the polls.


  18. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 11:20 am:

    We aren’t lemmings.
    In today’s world, everyone is in a lot of niches.
    What has to be done is find the niche that supports you enough to vote for you. A voter could be in one niche regarding state finances, another on social issues, and another regarding candidate biography - you have to find the niche that has the priority over the other niches.

    What is going to get someone to get up out of their chairs, walk down to a polling booth, wait in line - then vote for you? It has to be the right niche.

    The traditional GOP niches aren’t working. So Rauner’s team is appealing to different ones, while attempting to appeal to some of the traditional ones. Good.

    Consequently, Quinn can’t just depend upon giving $54,000,000 in grant money this time. He can’t just depend upon the niches that have succeeded even when the candidate was Rod Blagojevich. Quinn can’t depend upon voters giving him a second chance for a second time. Quinn is going to have to fight for his niches, and competition is good.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    ===The traditional GOP niches aren’t working. So Rauner’s team is appealing to different ones, while attempting to appeal to some of the traditional ones. Good.===

    Raunerites are not Republicans. Bruce Rauner is a Raunerite who won the GOP Primary. You all but admit that there.

    If you are a Republican and fall for Rauner being a “niche” Republican, that speaks to Rauner not even being a Republican in the Reagan Rule sense.

    That is being a lemming, voting against your better self.


  20. - low level - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 5:10 pm:

    When Bruce went to the Southside and Westside, I just can’t help but think he brought his checkbook as well - for whatever programs the ministers are sponsoring. Just a hunch.

    And the tea partiers are ok with that? This election is weird.


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