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Democrats have Downstate woes, rising suburban hopes

Thursday, Feb 9, 2012

* “Downstate has seceded from the Democratic Party,” bemoaned a Democratic operative a few months back. The Tribune’s latest poll shows President Obama, who split the Downstate vote with John McCain in 2008, is in bad shape in the region. These first numbers are the president’s job approval ratings…

* And these ratings are for his handling of the economy…

Democratic legislative leaders are pushing hard to win every possible suburban seat they can because they’re deathly afraid of a Downstate bloodbath. Those results show you why.

A poll taken for Fox Chicago back in October had Obama’s Downstate approval at 39 percent and his disapproval at 57 percent, so he’s doing a bit worse in that region.

* However, the Tribune poll also clearly shows that Obama is rebounding in suburban Cook and in the collars. That October poll mentioned above had Obama upside down in the collar counties, 43 percent approved, 55 percent disapproved.

* And check out this Tribune poll nugget

The survey found Obama to be particularly strong among women — especially among white suburban women who tend to be more socially moderate. Obama wins 63 percent of their vote against Romney and 65 percent of their vote against Gingrich, the poll found.


Suburban Republican candidates, particularly in Cook County, are not gonna like those numbers.

* More

While tea party support for a congressional candidate has some influence among Republican voters, only 17 percent of voters overall said such an endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a contender.

Fully 34 percent of all Illinois voters said a tea party endorsement would make them more likely to vote against a candidate, and 39 percent said it would have no effect on their votes.

* But that’s about November. Let’s look at some primary news. House Speaker Michael Madigan’s primary campaign is getting some help from what some might think is an unlikely source

A mostly Latino group headed by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has scheduled a press conference for Friday morning and a rally for Saturday that’s aimed directly at Michele Piszczor, the young legal assistant who’s actually daring to take on the speaker in next month’s Democratic primary.

Joshua Hoyt, the group’s chief strategy executive, says Ms. Piszczor has refused to sign a “no hate” campaign pledge and is getting help from wealthy businessman Jack Roeser, a strong social conservative and vehement foe of the federal and state Dream Acts.

But Ms. Piszczor says she’s never even seen the pledge, and continues to deny any Roeser ties. “All of this is a play by Madigan.”

The pledge states that a candidate “will refuse any association with or support from — direct or indirect — individuals or entities that have a history of anti-immigrant extremism in Illinois.”

This is about interests. And having a Speaker who is now on board with the group’s agenda is most likely seen as far more preferable than electing a freshman who happens to have been born a Latina, especially if she’s being supported by “the enemy.” It’s not personal, it’s just business.

* New TV ads

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is making an extraordinarily early move to shore up two embattled Republican members of Congress here.

The chamber this morning began a cable and broadcast TV ad blitz on behalf of U.S. Reps. Robert Dold of Winnetka and Judy Biggert of Hinsdale.

The “substantial” ad buy is the “earliest we’ve ever been up” in Illinois, according to a chamber spokesman, and comes a full month before the primary election, in which both are expected to be made the official GOP nominee for re-election.

Those surging Obama numbers may be one reason for the ads. I’m hearing that Obama is surging in Dold’s district, for instance. Here’s the Chamber’s Dold ad

* Biggert ad

As always when we discuss national politics, no bumper sticker slogans and drive-by comments. We’re not that kind of blog. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - reformer - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    The poll suggests that Democrats have opportunity to pick up seats in the suburbs, while Republicans have opportunity downstate. Since most of the state’s population is in the Chicago area, the GOP will remain the minority party.

    Only a true believer could look at those numbers for suburban Cook and think Republicans will pick up seats there. The only real question is how much they can limit their losses in suburban Cook and the collars.

  2. - Jeff Wartman - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 1:50 pm:

    Considering that the “Contact” section of Michelle’s website leads to a PO Box in West Dundee, which is Roeser’s backyard and a loooong way from the district, the Roeser connections are at least interesting.

    A ton of questions about Piszczor remain. Is Roeser just using her as a pawn? Is she a serious candidate that got in the race under her own accord? Does she even understand what she has gotten herself into?

  3. - Lil' Enchilada - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 1:53 pm:

    The downstaters are angry. They blame ALL democrats for the state of the country and the State of Illinois. It’s pretty ugly out there. I don’t even mention anything political anywhere because people become unhinged and it’s a little frightening. The other problem is lack of party unification for democrats in northwestern Illinois. No one is unifying them.

  4. - too obvious - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    Ms. Piszczor clearly isn’t being honest. It’s hardly some secret that her campaign is the latest brain child to come out of Jack Roeser’s shop. Add one more disaster to the tally.

    At a minimum, Piszczor is “benefiting” from campaign mgr Jim Edwards who is a full time Roeser employee. Looks like the money flow is largely hidden. Others can determine the legal ramifications.

    But point is none of this is any secret in GOP circles. Piszczor’s “effort” is tied to that of Tom Swiss, a Republican who is running as a Democrat for state rep in Chicago. A similar silly scheme to try and con voters.

    All of these clowns deserve the huge losses voters will soon deliver.

  5. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 2:00 pm:

    I’m curious what motivates people who “disapprove” of Obama and “disapprove” on the economy.

    On the health care bill, like 10-15% of the people who disapproved thought Obama’s bill was not progressive enough.

    There are a number of people who disapprove of Obama’s foreign policy and economic policy because it’s not progressive enough. These people are not going to vote for the GOP in most cases.

  6. - Just Axing - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    What exactly are the Democrats going to do with these extra seats? Just curious….

  7. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 2:20 pm:

    My guess is that Schilling will use Obama’s poor downstate numbers to win reelection and Plummer will use a similar tact to take the 12th. Hultgren and Roskam should be okay. But all bets are off after that. I think Dold, Walsh and Biggert are in real trouble. I believe either Raja or Tammy would put a whoopin’ on Joe Walsh. I knew this would happen. There is no way Obama loses Cook, Will, Madison and St. Clair Counties, and if he has an 80% to 85% vote total in Cook County, it will cause real trouble for the state GOP. It’s a good thing Mark Kirk isn’t running for the Senate in 2012.

  8. - Don't Worry About the Government - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 2:25 pm:

    Polling at this point won’t prove much as so much can change over the next 8 months. I don’t see a situation arising where democrats lose the majority.

    Also, in terms of the presidential race, the republicans are still in the primary and have yet to unite under one cohesive “anti-Obama” front. Everyone is still too busy smelling the republicans’ dirty laundry. I believe Obama’s numbers approval rates will decrease when the GOP goes on the attack.

  9. - reformer - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 2:29 pm:

    How would you like to be a Republican state rep candidate who is on the ballot below Obama, Duckworth and Kotowski? To win, the Republican has to outperform the rest of his party’s ticket. And his names isn’t Coulson. Brutal.

  10. - Shore - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 2:44 pm:

    1. That dold ad will do absolutely nothing for him. In a democratic district big government and trashing anything obama is not the kind of message that works. They would have been better off talking about jobs and something about women.

    2. Springfield democrats are not president obama. I think they’ll get crushed in the suburbs this fall.

    3. Romney will be the first gop nominee from a democratic state since at least president bush in 1988. Since you care about suburban women so much-he beat a female rising star to get elected governor in 2002 and won that race largely by winning the suburbs. This is mark kirk at the top of the ticket, not alan keyes

  11. - Justin - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 2:52 pm:

    I live in STRONGLY Democratic Madison County, and I believe that the Dems will win big here. Whoever wins the IL-12 Democratic Primary (I hope it’s Chris Miller) will win Costello’s old seat.

  12. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 2:55 pm:

    ===I live in STRONGLY Democratic Madison County===

    Not so much. Take a look at your 2010 election returns, man.

  13. - Wensicia - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 3:14 pm:

    I’m not surprised Obama is strong with women. Republicans are really negative on women’s social issues this election cycle.

  14. - Boone Logan Square - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 3:18 pm:

    Rich, I may have missed it, but did the Tribune poll Romney approval by region of the state? I’m very curious to see how he’s doing downstate at this stage of the GOP race.

  15. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 3:22 pm:

    Justin - Madison County is not a strong Democratic county any more. I do think Obama will win Madison County because of the attrition of ads he will run in the St. Louis media market, but I think the local- and state-level GOP candidates will do well in Madison County come November. I don’t think the GOP will take over the county board but I could foresee them gaining another countywide office or two. Jason Plummer may not dominate Madison County’s portion of the 12th but he will fare well there. He’s raising money at a good clip.

  16. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 3:25 pm:

    I would love to see the breakouts of this poll, as in by Congressional District, Senate, and House Districts, since these are the numbers that you can start attaching to these new districts.

    While downstate is terrible for the Dems, I would love to see the breakout through the districts and what kind of uphill battle each may face in this snapshot.

    Also, Senate district wise, with the collegues running against each other on the Repub side, the SGOP are natuallry just going to lose seats, according to the map…

    However …

    If we look at the map and see “competetive” districts with 2 Repubs facing off AND they keep a seat, that primary candidate be a “pick-up” where the SDEMs thought they could take BOTH out, one in the primary and the other in a competetive race in the general.

    I fear the collars, as I am in Kendall, and it looks as though Holmes will be getting a pass and if the numbers keep improving, it will be better and better for her.

    As for my House seat, with Cross, (yes, I know Holmes wouldn’t be my Senator, I am using her as an example of a collar Dem with these numbers …) Nothing is changing for the HGOP, as far as I can see out here, and we Repubs feel deflated with this map, and the lack of avenues (and candidates, TOM!) to gain some seats… today … as a snapshot.

    Whicj is why … love to see these broken out in all the districts …

  17. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 3:36 pm:

    ===did the Tribune poll Romney approval by region of the state?===

    I’m sure they did, but the Tribune never releases its xtabs.

  18. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 3:37 pm:

    ===I would love to see the breakouts of this poll, as in by Congressional District, Senate, and House Districts===

    No way to do that with a sample size of 600.

  19. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 3:42 pm:

    Sorry, Rich …

    I was being figurative … I saw that the Trib did the 600 … was wishing out loud those questions, to all the districts, and the responses to these questions broken out.

    You can see by my typos today, not being as clear as I would like.

    My bad. Sorry.

  20. - Niles Township - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 3:48 pm:

    Well, this poll just shows how out of touch I am. I’m a suburban Democrat who was hoping someone, anyone (Hilary, anyone?) would challenge Obama in the primaries. Now failing that, I would seriously consider Romney given his fairly moderate record as governor of MA.

  21. - mark walker - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 4:18 pm:

    In the 10th, Dems Tree and Schneider both have better business experience and more economic smarts than Rep. Dold. But ideology always trumps reality with the US Chamber, which has not suported the majority of US businesses (small and medium) for years.

  22. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 4:30 pm:

    I never understood why the Southern Dems didn’t do a home-rule conceal carry bill. It could have, and probably will be, passed (though I doubt Quinn will sign it).

    Could have solved a lot of problems. Maybe it was fundraising.

    Robust political post here, Rich.

    Suburban Cook and the Collars are trending Democratic, while rural Illinois is going GOP.

    Folks, it wasn’t that long ago that suburban Cook was a push with the city and the Collars produced huge GOP majorities.

    We can all count, right, we can see how this thing is going? The GOP has given up on the Northern urban/suburban centers and thinks it can run the table in Dixie and the West.

    Not as easy as it looks. Have some fun and surf It ain’t easy being a GOP presidential candidate, since about 1992.

  23. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 4:34 pm:

    Niles, I don’t think such a challenge hurts anyone. I wish Dubya had been seriously challenged in 2004. Blago needed a serious challenge in 2006. It might benefit Obama if he were to have someone like Hilary or even a “red state” Dem like Jon Tester file against him and give him a political and ideological push.

  24. - Esquire - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 4:37 pm:

    Rolling out legislative proposals to create a gun registry and to legalize same sex marriages cannot be helpful in many Downstate counties either. Some of the Democrats have forgotten the lesson of the 2010 elections: keep quiet during the campaign season and put the controversial bills through during the lame duck session.

    The Republican Party would be all but irrelevant if the Chicago Democrats did not try to push their local agenda on the entire state. I agree with the prognostication that the GOP may pick up some seats in Southern Illinois while the Democrats need to nail down the districts in the Cook and collar county suburbs and exurbs.

  25. - Esquire - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 4:39 pm:


    I do not think a GOP presidential candidate has carried Illinois since 1988 when George H. W. Bush barely eked out a victory in the Prairie State.

  26. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 4:41 pm:

    If the total sample size is 600, the regional subgroups are small enough that the results are kinda dubious anyways.

    If fact, since none of the data looks screwy (which it should for one of the subgroups) I’m kinda suspicious that the penny-pinching Trib hired one of those pollsters who cuts corners.

  27. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 4:42 pm:

    Word, I read your comments and thought something I would wish for my party to do - at least at the state rep and senate level - is keep the powder dry for 2014. Obama won’t be on the ticket (and can’t be on the ticket after this election, assuming he wins) and there will be a dogfight for Governor and U.S. Senator (especially if Senator Durbin retires). The GOP could recruit strong state-level candidates if we have a great field for Governor and U.S. Senator. The new battleground is the suburbs and, if Obama is pulling that well in a non-statewide year, I can’t imagine we will pick up any seats. We may even lost a couple of House seats and a Senate house seat or two.

  28. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 4:43 pm:

    I haven’t come across Illinois polls or any info on the Republican presidential primary contenders. I would like to know if Illinois Republicans favor Santorum over Romney, as has happened in all of middle America states so far. Santorum should easily beat Romney among social conservatives, and the times now favor Santorum, with gay marriage, contraception and church, Susan B Komen, etc.

  29. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 4:57 pm:

    –I do not think a GOP presidential candidate has carried Illinois since 1988 when George H. W. Bush barely eked out a victory in the Prairie State.

    Or California, Oregon or Washington. Or Pennsylvania. The GOP has some long-term trouble in the electoral college.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 5:22 pm:

    ===and there will be a dogfight for Governor and U.S. Senator (especially if Senator Durbin retires). The GOP could recruit strong state-level candidates if we have a great field for Governor and U.S. Senator.===

    Good luck with that …have you seen the dopes who have run against Lisa and Jesse these last few times, and now you want the ILGOP to primary out a “good” Guv .. AND … a “good” US Senator candidate … Scary thought that 2 can get out of the primary and BOTH win … This is the ILGOP …

  31. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 5:47 pm:

    The current GOP fight over contraception can’t be helpful to any suburban Republican running for Congress or the GA no matter how Catholic the Chicagoland region is. Chicago suburban women do not want the GOP to impose its beliefs on their reproductive health, as Bill Brady painfully taught the party yet again two years ago. I think it may be helpful to people like Schilling and Costello’s opponent though.

    As a political junkie, I am crossing my fingers that the GOP primary is still in full effect after Super Tuesday so that we can get a full-fledged GOP presidential slugfest in our state the week before March 20. I am just fascinated to see where the Illinois GOP would go here after giving us a Kirk (Romney) for Senate and a Brady (Santorum) for gov in 2010. Santorum’s focus on manufacturing in his stumping I think is winning him the Midwest as much as his conservative Catholic values and I think it could put him over the edge (depending on his ballot status) even if Rutherford is working like crazy to get Romney a win.

  32. - Going nuclear - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 6:24 pm:

    I don’t get all this talk about Romney’s “moderate” record as MA governor being an asset. He’s been running from his record as governor from day one, and Obama will drive this home with the suburban women voters.

  33. - Angry Chicagoan - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 6:34 pm:

    This is just a microcosm of what is happening everywhere in the country. Rural America has been abandoned by the young, and the young are the core of the Democratic Party base. The suburbs are becoming more diverse, and right now diversity seems to be the chosen boogeyman of the Republican presidential field and major Republican politicians and fundraisers. The end result is an electorate that is more polarized between rural and urban than at any time in American history. The only other time we’ve even been close to this kind of divergence is in the 1890s, when of course the Republicans were the urban party.

  34. - Louis Howe - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 6:53 pm:

    I’ve been active in Democratic Politics downstate for 30 years. There was a surge in support for Democrats downstate in the mid-to-late 1980s and early 90s as the local economies lost over hundred thousand manufacturing jobs. The trend actually accelerated again in 2000, as plants closed throughout the region. When a rural community loses a good paying manufacturing job there isn’t another waiting around the corner. That’s why prisons became “rice bowls’ in so many small towns.
    Bottom-line…The Democratic Party over the last thirty years has failed miserably in addressing economic issues. Bill Clinton’s Nafta support resulted in many plants (Maytag, Caterpillar…ect) closing up and moving south to Mexico. Clinton and Obama not only aren’t strong economic justice leaders like FDR and Harry Truman, they aren’t even up to LBJ or JFK. The Democratic Brand is tarnished, and will require new leadership to win back white working class voters

  35. - Just Me - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 7:12 pm:

    ya’ know….all that national and/or liberal blogs talk about how the unemployment rate is going down, and companies are creating jobs, and the economy is slowing going back to normal and that will be the record that Obama runs on to win his re-election. My comment is this: I just wish those national trends were happening in Obama’s home state. Maybe this survey proves my point.

  36. - Just Me - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 7:14 pm:

    UNRELATED TOPIC: Oh my gosh, Rich, this story absolutely must be somehow tied in with a Friday QOTD:

  37. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 8:44 pm:

    Word @4:30

    Home rule specifies municipalities. Those over 25,000 were automatically granted it; smaller ones have to vote for it. Counties are not considered home rule unless they adopted a specific form of government and they also chose to be consider home rule. According to the Google, only two counties have the required form of government, Cook & Will. The only county that has adopted home rule status is Cook.

    Given the hit and miss nature of home rule locations, you could end up with a patchwork quilt of CCW rules such that you would be unable to know if or when you were violating the local community or state law. That’s why it needs to be done at the State level …

  38. - NW - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 9:12 pm:

    The gradual slide in support for Democrats downstate comes as a result of many factors, one of which is the typical lack of attention by Illinois Dem leaders on downstate message and energy and politics. Those of us in the downstate vineyards have tried, and have tried to get Democratic leaders to focus, but with Cook County the center of the universe we see the consequences of a truly non-statewide party and effort. Shame on us.

  39. - Soccertease - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 9:31 pm:

    In statewide elections downstate is irrelevent anyway (remember Chicago elected Blagojevich twice).

  40. - Glass - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 10:00 pm:

    Does that immigration group get state money?

  41. - G. Willickers - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 10:13 pm:

    @ Glass - look it up for yourself but I bet you find the answer to be “no”

  42. - Just Me - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 10:38 pm:

    Word at 4:30, Retired at 8:44: This has been attempted, but state law pre-empts home-rule on this matter. The Speaker routinely rules that bills that change home-rule on this matter require a super-majority vote.

  43. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Feb 9, 12 @ 11:38 pm:

    Louis Howe, what have the Republicans done for White working class voters besides try to take their unions away and try to persuade them that Blacks, immigrants, Muslims and single women are the cause of their economic decline?

    White working class voters will be irrelevant in the future. They will either make money and become more affluent (tend to vote Republican) or become poorer (and tend to vote Democrat).

    Welcome to the Neo Liberal, globalization future brought to you by Dems, GOP, big business, corporate media and academia.

  44. - Glock 23C - Friday, Feb 10, 12 @ 1:17 am:

    As a someone from downstate, I’m really tired of being ruled by Chicago politicians. The poll clearly indicates a cultural divide between Chicagoland and downstate Illinois. I would love to see Chicago become the 51st state. I know it will never happen so I’ll have to move to a free state.

  45. - Louis Howe - Friday, Feb 10, 12 @ 1:47 am:

    Carl…White working class voters have already become poorer over the last 30 years. But after giving democrats majorities in congress and the presidency with no meaningful change in our national economic policies, they’ve turned to voting on social issues. They’re voting republican because democrats talk a good game but haven’t delivered when given the opportunity. I agree it’s a Globalized pattern. Europe is experiencing a similar voting pattern, but it’s the same dynamic—Economic elites rigging the political systems for their benefit.

  46. - Victor Kingston - Friday, Feb 10, 12 @ 8:26 am:

    @Glock 23C

    Dear Sir or Madame

    As a representative of the Rational Thought Coalition of deep southern Illinois it is my pleasure to inform you that we and our sister organization the Many Mighty Hunters of Cook County both believe that you should make haste for a “free state” as quickly as possible, as you’re making the rest of us look bad. Please let us know at your earliest convienance if we might assist you in your hunt for freedom.

    P. S. - Please avoid using and state or local services paid for by Cook County taxes while your home hunt continues. Otherwise your hypocrisy may cause many of our members to catch a case of the vapours and we are currently out of wicker fans and large hats.

  47. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 10, 12 @ 8:59 am:

    –Given the hit and miss nature of home rule locations, you could end up with a patchwork quilt of CCW rules such that you would be unable to know if or when you were violating the local community or state law. That’s why it needs to be done at the State level ..–

    Even with the Phelps bill, you would had a patchwork, for all practical purposes.

    Given the exceptions in the bill, it’s not like you would be able to strap on your gun and go about your daily business. Too many places where it would not be legal to do so.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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