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Map of the day

Thursday, Apr 28, 2011

* From John Jackson’s paper “The 2010 Elections: Illinois Still Blue Despite the Red Wave that Swept the Nation“…

* More from Jackson’s paper…

There are some counties which changed sides between 2006 and 2010 although all of them, except Jackson County, changed from the Democratic to the Republican columns. If you track the vote for a longer period of time, especially if all four of the statewide governor’s races reviewed here are included, you can identify a lot more variation and the record of change across many of these counties is quite evident. Those are counties where the candidates and their supporters must focus particular attention and commit special resources. Those are the counties where a strategic infusion of staff time and campaign resources, particularly media and money, can make a crucial difference. They are the marginal counties which will be the battleground counties in races of the future.

* Illinois Issues did a recent story on Jackson’s latest work

(T)here have been indications for years that the southern half of Illinois is fundamentally shifting away from its Democratic roots. To one scholar, it’s a state-level echo of the shift that the southern half of America has already undergone, as the economic appeal of Democrats’ pro-labor policies has been displaced by what the Republicans are selling: God, guns, anti-abortion activism and other cultural issues.

“I think it’s part of a larger trend. It has to do with southern politics nationally. We are catching up with the South,’’ says John Jackson, a political scientist at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

In a recent paper, Jackson used electoral data to show that “Illinois clearly suffers from an intense regionalism … especially polarized along the geographical fault lines dividing the rural and small town areas from the cities and the suburban areas.’’ The ongoing Republicanization of southern Illinois, he wrote, is one of the starker indications of that fissure.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - W - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 8:31 am:

    Jackson reaffirms that there are significant numbers of swing voters in western, central and southern Illinois. Democrats have suffered from years of neglecting downstate party building activity and running statewide tickets entirely from Chicago. Statewide elections will become increasingly difficult for Democrats if that behavior continues.

  2. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 8:46 am:

    I really would have like to see more earth tones chosen given the agricultural roots of so much of the state. Seriously, though, it doesn’t look like Southern IL is so strongly or quickly changing to Republican but then maybe I’m just not aware of what the map looked like 20 years ago. I need one of those GIS maps where you can overlay maps from two different periods and change the transparency back and forth to compare. Rich, you can whip that up in no time, right? :-)

  3. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:17 am:

    I think it’s reading too much into things to claim that Southern Illinois is suddenly no longer Democrat and shifting to the GOP because of the God, guns and gays issues. It’s not like these are new issues raised by Republicans for the first time in the last 5 years.

    Might the switch not have a great deal more to do with the lack of downstate Democrats having any visible role in the state Democratic Party and the last election featuring a downstate Republican on leading the ticket?

    I get the sense from downstate folks that they’re more upset with the perception that Chicago’s economic interests are dominating everything in state government moreso than that hung up on social issues.

  4. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:23 am:

    This map really doesn’t indicate anything about trends without knowing when the variations occurred.

  5. - Skeeter - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:28 am:

    Not to digress, but looking at that map tells me we have way too many counties.

  6. - Blue State - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:36 am:

    Well, if W is correct as to the democrats failure to party build in down state then the GOP is in big trouble in Illinois. They cannot win right now as it is and if the dems get it together down state its over. The Republicans need to have a better strategy which would include running legitimate candidates for offices such as Alderman and Mayor in Chicago and for Suburban Cook offices. Unfortunately the party mails it in or has some guy out in left field as their standard bearer. They dont need to win in Cook, just get enough. If they start fielding legit candidates, they can chip away. If not, then the dems will have it for life.

  7. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:46 am:


    And each of those counties average over 70 taxing bodies. Whoo Hoo!

  8. - cover - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:51 am:

    Most of those counties in yellow voted for Glenn Poshard in 1998. Had the Dems’ candidate that year been anyone else, those counties would likely have been won by GOP candidate George Ryan, and they would be colored red, just like most of the state’s counties.

    It would be useful if there were a way to make a map showing the relative voting populations of the counties, where Cook County alone would take up about 40% of the map. Someone who didn’t know IL’s population distribution could look at the map as presented and have no clue as to how Dems have won 3 straight races with only 3 of 102 counties firmly in their corner.

  9. - paddyrollingstone - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:51 am:

    I don’t think we can read too much into the 2010 election. The 1994 election swept in a wave of Repubs - taking every state wide office, the Senate and the House and picking up 2 congressional seats - George Sangmeister’s and Dan Rostenkowski’s. It turned out that that elections was an anomaly. I think the 2010 elections were similar. That being said, the Dems should focus more attention downstate.

  10. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:56 am:

    “… Cook County alone would take up about 40% of the map.”

    One vote for the new 51st state, Cooktana (Daleyfornia?), capital in Chicago.

  11. - Get it Right - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:10 am:

    I have a hard time taking any research too seriously when the researcher can’t even get his own state senator’s name right.

  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:18 am:

    For someone who is supposed to be an expert on Illinois politics and Southern Illinois in particular, John Jackson is an idiot.

    His political analysis of Southern Illinois is fundamentally flawed.

    Illinois lost nearly 9,000 mining jobs in the 1990’s, almost all in Southern Illinois.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 18,800 “Mining and Logging” jobs in Illinois in Jan, 1990.

    By Jan. 2001, there were only 9,900 Mining and logging jobs.

    When those jobs left, the miners left, and their families. And make no mistake, they were the bedrock of Democratic politics in Southern Illinois, pun intended.

    In fact, voter registration and turn-out rates in both Democratic Primaries and General Elections among members of the United Mine Workers of America is higher than any non-public sector union in Illinois.

    Please let me know about any guest lecture opportunities at SIU-C. Apparently, I’m over-qualified.

  13. - Downstate - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:46 am:

    The Democratic Party suffers from a lack of a creative, ongoing plan for politics and press in downstate regions. The leadership of the party has to make that a top priority, or else we will continue to see this decline.

  14. - Barton Lorimor - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:58 am:

    Thanks for mentioning this, Rich. Dr. Jackson and the Institute’s graduate assistant, Cary Bryant, spent a good deal of time in getting those numbers and maps together.

    There was some talk earlier about counties and voting power. A few months ago Cary put together a map showing a county’s political weight by registered voters. Perhaps it would contribute to that discussion. You can find it at:

  15. - Barton Lorimor - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 11:10 am:

    @Yellow Dog

    You’re right to some extent about miners leaving. Some of those families didn’t leave. I also get the feeling that there is some optimism mining might make a comeback in the region. Our local leaders have only enhanced that by lobbying for the clean coal projects as of late.

    The Democrat in the Phelps-Forby area is a very conservative Democrat. Plus the Democratic turnout down here has been low, so it’s no wonder why these counties went red.

  16. - Conservative Veteran - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 11:14 am:

    To know where each party is strong, we should consider many more recent races, including the 2010 and ‘08 U.S. Senate races. Those races would be more helpful than the governor races of 1998 and 2002. Many counties might have changed, within the past 13 years.

  17. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 11:37 am:

    Seems like wishful thinking to believe that the land south of 80 has a lot of sway over Statewide results.

    Redrawing the map with the counties represented in a population adjusted fashion would show that as long as the Chicago machine keeps lurching along, the results will remain blue.

  18. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 11:39 am:

    @Barton - as of 2000, 7000 UMWA members had left Illinois. Many for Kentucky and West Virginia.

    It IS a very conservative Democrat, but its still a Democrat.

    Republicans historically aligned themselves with railroad companies, mining companies, and manufacturers.

    Issues like abortion don’t mean squat when you grow up hearing your dad, uncles, grandfathers tell stories about private security firms hired by the aforementioned bashing in the skulls of their friends for trying to put food on the table.

  19. - Saluki Way - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 11:52 am:

    @YDD ah, take it easy on Barton. He works for the Institute with Dr. Jackson so he will stick up for him :)

  20. - Louis Howe - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 11:55 am:

    It’s basically that Democrats have failed to deliver economic security when given the chance. In the 80s and early 90s, normally republican downstate suffered a loss of good paying jobs in manufacturing and mining resulting in Western and Central Illinois losing nearly 15% of its population. (i.e. Caterpillar cut the Peoria UAW workforce from 24,000 to less than 5,000).

    This economic stress created an opportunity for democrats, and at first they were able to elect Cong. Durbin, Cong. Evans and nearly defeated Cong. Bob Michel. However, the Democratic Party failed to effectively counter the “Laissez Faire” economic policies, and instead relied on special interest group politics to maintain electoral victories. These special interest groups (Abortion, Gays, Immigrants, ect) have less appeal for democrats in rural/small town, mostly white, America. Without an economic message that actually delivers jobs, Democrats have nothing to sell downstate.

  21. - Joeverdeal - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 11:57 am:

    Cincinnatus says….”One vote for the new 51st state, Cooktana (Daleyfornia?), capital in Chicago.”…..and I couldn’t agree more.

    The social, economic and environmental differences between Chicago and the collar counties and the southern half of Illinois could not be more pronounced.

    The north/south division of Illinois into separate states would make a great deal of sense and would result in better government for both populations.

  22. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 12:11 pm:

    ===The north/south division of Illinois into separate states would make a great deal of sense===

    The new Southern Illinois would also probably be one of the poorest states in the country. Good luck with that. We both need each other. Stop with the talk about dividing the state. It might sound good, but it would be a disaster for everyone unlucky enough to be cut-off from Chicago and its metropolitan region, whose taxes keep your roads paved and whose students keep your universities filled. Heck, even all of the downstate prisons would close, eliminating those jobs too.

    We’ve all got to live together. Let’s focus on making the best of it.

  23. - Montrose - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 12:30 pm:

    “The north/south division of Illinois into separate states would make a great deal of sense and would result in better government for both populations.”

    That is all fine and dandy until you realize the tax rate the new state of non-cook would have to have in order to have just a skeleton of the services and infrastructure currently there. As 47th said, it would be as poor as poor can be.

  24. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 12:37 pm:

    “whose taxes keep your roads paved and whose students keep your universities filled.”

    What source do you reference. Show me where it states the overall tax dollars received by Chicago/Cook are less than the overall taxes paid by its residents. Is this done by county, region, other?

  25. - cover - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 12:56 pm:

    47th Ward and Montrose each believe that a Chicago-less Illinois would be an impoverished state. While the downstate areas certainly don’t have the same income level as Chicago or the collars, it’s likely that they would mirror a state like Iowa, not Mississippi.

    47th Ward’s comments about what would happen with the downstate roads, universities, and prisons in a Chicago-less Illinois are very valid nonetheless. One bright spot that Montrose has overlooked is that the new Illinois would qualify for a higher federal Medicaid match rate, so it’s at least possible that the Medicaid program - likely the second largest state program behind K-12 education in this scenario - could still be sustained. A Chicago-only Medicaid program would not be hurt, either, as there is a minimum 50% match rate.

    I must agree with 47th Ward, though, I can’t imagine any scenario in which Chicago and downstate could split into two states without causing major problems, especially for downstate. It would not be an amicable split into two near-equals (e.g. Czechoslovakia).

  26. - Shore - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 1:03 pm:

    Barton thanks for the map, it’s a big help to those of us who aren’t familiar with the area down there. That map is pre-2010 census results?

  27. - Montrose - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 1:09 pm:

    *it’s likely that they would mirror a state like Iowa, not Mississippi*

    And Iowa’s income tax rate goes up to 8.98%

  28. - Statewide - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    I too find it interesting how angry rural GOPs can be about taxes and spending, even when their own highly-red county clearly receives a big net gain from government dollars. Can anyone direct me to recent studies or data sources which break down total tax payments and government expenditures by county?

  29. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 1:14 pm:

    –The north/south division of Illinois into separate states would make a great deal of sense and would result in better government for both populations. –

    Care to offer anything of substance to support the proposition?

  30. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 2:32 pm:

    @Anonymous -

    More than half of the state’s road fund revenues come from the six-county Chicago region.

    Depending on the year, 56 percent to 68 percent of the tax dollars are spent in the “lower 96″.

    Your source is the Chicago Tribune.

    I don’t think there’s any doubt either that the bulk of the state’s income tax and sales tax revenue comes from the Chicagoland either.

    Central Illinois in particular benefits from those tax dollars being spent in Springfield, Bloomington and Champaign.

    This is also a good time to remind folks that there are 57 counties in Illinois with unemployment rates higher than Cook County (8.9), including 40 that still have double-digit unemployment.

    As a native of downstate Illinois who now calls Chicago home, I’d advise you to rethink your anti-Chicago attitude. Chicago is the good for us all.

  31. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 2:35 pm:

    –More than half of the state’s road fund revenues come from the six-county Chicago region.–

    We get whacked again up north with tollroads, too.

  32. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 2:36 pm:

    “…moreso than that hung up on social issues.”

    You’re joking, right?

  33. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 2:44 pm:

    “I’d advise you to rethink your anti-Chicago attitude.”

    What in my question was anti-Chicago? I was asking for a source showing tax revenues and subsidies by county or region. If I offended you, too bad.

  34. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 3:53 pm:

    Sorry Anonymous, that comment wasn’t directed at you, it was a continuation of my “remind folks”…

  35. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 4:22 pm:

    @Barton -

    My apologies for being harsh. No idea you worked for the Institute.

    All eyes focused on Southern Illinois these days.

    Good luck with the flood, the labor dispute, and lets hope those jobs do indeed return soon.

  36. - T.J. - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 4:58 pm:

    In January, the Illinois State Board of Elections listed these as official totals:

    Bill Brady 1,713,385
    Pat Quinn 1,745,219

    How does that result in victory by 34,903 votes?

  37. - A rare remaining downstate Democrat - Friday, Apr 29, 11 @ 8:54 am:

    This “Republicanization” of downstate Illinois is exactly what was discussed at the last Democratic County Chairmen’s Association meeting. This info is just one more chunk of evidence to add to the mounting pile. Thanks for sharing Rich.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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