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Kirk’s confidence

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

* Jim Dey interviews Kevin Artl of the Mark Kirk campaign

Artl said he anticipates the turnout in Illinois to be “more similar to 2004,” when Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry was his party’s presidential candidate.

Although he lost the national election, Kerry handily carried Illinois, collecting almost 2.9 million votes against President George W. Bush.

That number, however, pales in comparison to Obama’s numbers four years later.

Obama collected 3.4 million votes in the 2008 presidential race, compared to 2 million for GOP candidate John McCain, boosting other Democrats on the ticket.

It’s hard to imagine any of the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley — having that kind of emotional appeal to Illinois voters. […]

When Kerry carried 54 percent of the vote in 2004, then-U.S. Rep. Kirk attracted 64 percent of the vote in Illinois’ evenly balanced 10th congressional district.

When Obama carried 60 percent of the Illinois vote in 2008, Kirk carried nearly 53 percent in his district.

Do you know what else happened in 2004? The Republicans had to import Alan Keyes from Maryland because they had nobody else to run against state Sen. Barack Obama for US Senate.

So, 2004 wasn’t so great for the GOP, either.

And President Obama’s numbers were pretty Kerryish in 2012, when he ran for reelection.

Illinois is a tough nut to crack for Republicans in a presidential year. The last Republican to win a statewide office in a presidential year was… ?

* But, Kirk is very good at this sort of thing, as his congressional campaigns showed. And Morning Consult has a new poll out which shows he’s not doing too badly

* Meanwhile, this story got zero attention

David Applegate, a staff member for Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-Ill.) Senate campaign, was walking around at the Columbus Day parade in Chicago when he was approached by a woman with a clipboard.

She asked him if he wanted to sign a petition. That was odd in itself, since Applegate was wearing a Duckworth campaign shirt, and the woman was wearing a campaign shirt for Sen. Mark Kirk (R), whom Duckworth is trying to unseat. It got weirder when she said the petition was about raising the minimum wage, an issue Kirk doesn’t even support.

Applegate, confused, said he worked for Duckworth, and the woman walked away. He saw her again later, standing with another woman who was also wearing a Kirk shirt and holding a clipboard. He got closer and looked over one of their shoulders. There were “raise the wage” stickers covering the tops of their petitions, but peeking out from underneath them was Mark Kirk’s printed name.

They weren’t collecting signatures for a wage campaign; there isn’t even an active wage campaign in Illinois right now. They were collecting signatures to put Kirk on the ballot for the March primary election.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Donald Segretti - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:18 pm:

    I just love a well executed dirty trick. I also love it when the principal’s are exposed.

  2. - Anonymiss - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:24 pm:

    Artl. Dude. People don’t collect petition signatures for fun. They could’ve gotten the petitions and t-shirts on their own? Come on, man. At best, you guys didn’t know this was happening, so just say that you don’t condone the deception and that you’ll look into it. Methinks doth protest too much.

  3. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:28 pm:

    A sample of 3,200 people?! Holy cow.

    Kirk is in better shape than some people think. However, a Carson or Trump candidacy in the general likely dooms both Kirk and Munger.

    And, with that thought, time to go drink a shot of bleach.

  4. - Whatever - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:29 pm:

    Answer to the Q. — Jim Thompson, 1976

  5. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:30 pm:

    Turnout is steady at around 70% in presidential years, Obama or not.

  6. - slow down - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:33 pm:

    The fact that Kirk received 63% of the vote in 2004 is meaningless when you consider that he didn’t face an opponent with any financial backing or any material organizational support. Does anyone remember who the opponent even was that year? As for 2008, Kirk narrowly beat Dan Seals who was rejected by the 10th on 3 different occasions. I don’t see why those victories ought to inspire confidence.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that in the Senate, Kirk is far more visible. His constant and repeated gaffes were never an issue when he was a house member.

  7. - DecaturGuy - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:35 pm:

    it appears Kirk has steadied the ship and is in a better position now to take on the Dems. The guy takes hard votes, but they are all strategically placed for november

  8. - CornerGuy - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:37 pm:

    Pro tip to duckworth campaign: when you launch a dirty trick try not to have your campaign staff as the only source.

  9. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:38 pm:

    Kirk is the incumbent, so he needs to have as many voters who supported him six years ago, to do the same next year. It shouldn’t be hard.

    He does this by telling his previous voters what he had done in the US Senate for them. As the incumbent, he confirms to his voters that they had made the right choice six years ago.

    As to the new voters since 2016, he will need a differing approach, but it is his top priority to tell them what his accomplishments were during his term.

    He is the defender in this race. He needs to give all of us good reasons to keep him in office. Durbin did some great television ads in 2014 using this approach, and he won handily.

    He needs to run as though he is the issue, not his opponent. By focusing on being the best Kirk he can be and selling himself, he doesn’t have to give his opponent any publicity.

    When his opponent makes a mistake - do a Durbin and look like it hurts to point out how poorly the opponent handled the situation. Rise above, not get down into the mud.

    Be senatorial. Show that you know how to be our senator. Be the professional of the candidates.

    Let the challenger throw the mud. Let the challenger make mountains out of mole hills. Let the challenger look desperate. If one of the challenger’s line of attacks hits hard - acknowledge their point, then explain.

    Really, if Kirk is one of Durbin’s buddies - all he has to do is ask himself how Durbin would handle things. Durbin isn’t my guy, but he certainly knows how to win elections without looking like the winner of a mud fight.

  10. - And I Approved This Message - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:41 pm:

    Assuming that she is the nominee, I think the fact that Hillary Clinton is from Illinois and that her election would be historic in the way Obama’s was should bump the turnout higher than it was in 2004.

  11. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:45 pm:

    tricky, Rich. I think Thompson ‘76 is correct, but the Constitution then moved Illinois constitutional office elections to non-Presidential years, which was the reason for JRT’s 2 year term after the ‘76 election. As is the case this year US Senators sometimes run in Presidential years.

  12. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:56 pm:

    1988, 2000 and 2012 there weren’t any Statewide races. 2016 will be a bit odd with 2.

  13. - cdog - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:58 pm:

    That is extremely creepy that two people would practice such deception as to put stickers on their petitions.

    Dang! What’s wrong with people?

  14. - Century Club - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 2:04 pm:

    Let’s be honest, there is no way Kirk doesn’t get on the ballot, so he’s probably not directing these shenanigans. To me, it sounds like these are paid signature gatherers who are gaming the system to make their money.

    I doubt they are employed by the campaign, but then I also doubt that the campaign doesn’t know where its signatures are coming from and who it is paying to collect them.

  15. - Mouthy - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 2:12 pm:

    People just don’t care anymore about mild process tricks. It’s just so much easier to hate the other side, no matter what..

  16. - @MisterJayEm - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 2:17 pm:

    “it sounds like these are paid signature gatherers who are gaming the system to make their money.”


    – MrJM

  17. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 2:35 pm:

    Eh, not sure I buy it, I don’t think it should have received attention without more credible information. It’s the kind of crap that runs on the Huffington Post.

  18. - Brian - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 2:46 pm:

    First, I love the petition trick. It’s classic Illinois politics at work.

    Nice job, Artl.

    Having said that, as someone who voted for Mark Kirk against Giannoulias, every time Kirk speaks on foreign policy, kissing up to Israel, bashing Muslims, I regret my vote.

    If the GOP is listening, get someone as an alternate to Kirk or this seat will be lost.

  19. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 2:53 pm:

    ==- CornerGuy - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 1:37 pm:==

    Protip: when trying to play righteous outrage gotcha, make sure it’s about an issue that will actually be covered far and wide by the media.

  20. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 2:55 pm:

    To the meat of the post, I hope the entire Kirk campaign is guided by this overconfident zeal :)

  21. - Shawshank Red - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 2:57 pm:

    If you consider the Presidency to be a “statewide” election, then the real answer to the question would be GHWB in ‘88.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:11 pm:

    Dear Kev,

    I see your logic here. I do.

    While turnout and the numbers mirroring whatever ace you’d like to put into play to make a case is valid, the concern that’s like the elephant in the room is wether Mark Kirk is more trustworthy than Tammy Duckworth on national and international issues.

    The Right in the Party have issus with Kirk on trust or more pointedly, “Slytherin” musts that Kirk won’t follow. Kirk’s own words, at times, and the verbal slip-ups make more concerned that Kirk can be trusted for 6 more years.

    “Who do you trust?” - that’s what this race can boil down to.

    My fear for you are the national folks and “we’ll take from here” attitudes with cookie-cutter ads that make no sense but add to the glossing over of eyes, and tuning out of the messages we in Illinois know are important.

    My only advice would be; be more pithy in attacking and responding.

    These volumes that are sent out, with “indexes and subnotes” begin to look like “busy work” instead of strong work-product.

    No one voting wants to get a PhD, they want to be educated on their choice.

    So, these are my thoughts.

    I’d keep an eye out for that Oswego candidate for you, but I have better things to do like watch the snow melt. So do you.

    Good luck, all the best.


    ps - The petition bit is fun. Not funny, but fun. Keep plugging - OW

  23. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:14 pm:

    Trick question.

    Reagan won Illinois in 1984, although not technically a statewide office.

    I would be surprised if we didn’t elect a Tepublican to the Board of U of I that year. And it wouldn’t surprise me if one sneaked in in 1988. 92 was a landslide so I doubt that, and then we abolished the elected board.

  24. - chad - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:20 pm:

    Not a good sign to see they may be using paid passers. Gathering the sigs and filing the first day for an incumbent statewide office holder should be a snap. Sounds odd.

  25. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:22 pm:

    ===then the real answer to the question would be GHWB in ‘88.===

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at, but there was no race for U.S. Senate that year and no statewide races in Illinois either. But it was a good year for George HW Bush in Illinois.

  26. - hold on - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:24 pm:

    “It’s hard to imagine any of the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley — having that kind of emotional appeal to Illinois voters.”

    Men who think that a Hillary candidacy will not have emotional appeal to millions of women, including younger women who have never voted, are going to be very surprised.

  27. - Betsy - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:26 pm:

    Others have already pointed out that Jim Thompson in 1976 was the last Republican to win statewide in Illinois.

    After the 1976 general election, statewide constitutional offices have not been not up for election during presidential election years, so Republicans haven’t had many opportunities during presidential election years.

    Since 1980, Republicans have lost every U.S. Senate election that was held during a presidential election year (1980 Alan Dixon beat Dave O’Neal; 1984 Paul Simon beat Charles Percy; 1992 Carol Moseley Braun beat Rich Williamson; 1996 Dick Durbin beat Al Salvi; 2004 Barack Obama beat Alan Keyes; and 2008 Dick Durbin beat Steve Sauerberg). Wow, that last one in 2008 would be a good trivia question regarding Durbin’s opponent. Where have you gone, Steve Sauerberg?

    Good luck next year, Comptroller Munger and Senator Kirk.

    If history is any indicator, it looks like you will need it. Charles Percy was the last Republican to win a seat in the U.S. Senate from Illinois during a presidential election year in 1972.

  28. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:27 pm:

    Does David Applegate have any proof?

    I suspect that he is not telling the truth.

    I am not a fan of either candidate and will vote for a third party if there is one on the ballet or do a write in but I believe that David Applegate is not being honest.

  29. - zonz - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:35 pm:

    Artl should have quoted a beloved Republican icon:
    Artl said he anticipates the turnout in Illinois to be “more similar to 2004,” when Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry was his party’s presidential candidate.

    Although he lost the national election, Kerry handily carried Illinois, collecting almost 2.9 million votes against President George W. Bush.

    That number, however, pales in comparison to…

  30. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:48 pm:

    ===Kirk is the incumbent, so he needs to have as many voters who supported him six years ago, to do the same next year. It shouldn’t be hard.

    That won’t do it for him. He needs more voters given the lower turnout in off year elections such as 2010 which in recent years has also been far more Republican than in Presidential years.

  31. - illini - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 4:09 pm:

    Juvenal - refresh my memory - and I an Alum - but give me some names so that I can start to relate to your comment.

  32. - Orzo - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 4:39 pm:

    Kirk’s victory was due almost exclusively to the weakness of his opponent. I know democrats who were embarrassed by Alexi and I’m sure many of them thought Kirk was a nice, moderate Republican who wouldn’t be so bad. It’s a different story this year. Kirk’s opponent is much stronger and we in a hyper-partisan era where people care more about whether their vote is a D or an R. They know the consequences on critical votes. There is a reason why national pundits call Illinois the most likely to switch parties.

  33. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 4:53 pm:

    With all due respect to his skills as a campaigner and communicator, election modeling isn’t exactly Artl’s strong suit.

    Anyone who believes or even hopes aloud that the 2016 elections will be like the 2004 elections is kidding themselves.

    Illinois has only gotten bluer.

    You have to suspect that Mendoza is going to crank out the Latina vote, and the only real question in the GOP presidential primary is if the eventual nominee will be slightly more or less xenophobic than Genghis Khan.

  34. - illini - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 4:58 pm:

    Orzo - I am a strong D. and did not support Alexi in the primary, but did vote for him in the General - maybe my mistake but that was 6 years ago. Alexi could never get any traction with downstate Democrats, other than the bought and paid for County Chairmen.

  35. - Lynn S. - Wednesday, Nov 25, 15 @ 2:37 am:

    @ - hold on - Tuesday, Nov 24, 15 @ 3:24 pm:

    “Men who think that a Hillary candidacy will not have emotional appeal to millions of women, including younger women who have never voted, are going to be very surprised.”

    I’m going to have to disagree, hold on.

    I’m female, and I have women friends (all liberal, like me) who despise Hilary Rodham Clinton and all the crap HRC has pulled over the years. We distrust any words coming out of her mouth, including “a”, “an”, and “the”. We’re still furious about the fact Obama had to pay off HRC’s campaign debts from 2008, when she ran as “Hilary is inevitable” and had such a sloppy organization that ran up tremendous bills.

    It’s a mistake for the Dems to back her, but both large parties this year seem determined to put forth candidates who will absolutely destroy the foundations of each party.

    But I’ll admit I’m going to vote for Bernie, because Bernie wants to legalize weed.

  36. - Tumbleweed lines - Wednesday, Nov 25, 15 @ 9:06 am:

    “Bro with no hoe” stick a fork in him he’s done. Grapsing at 2004 results and so on only steels my thoughts that Kirk’s camp is doomed. The next Senator will be decided on March 15th…and that all hinges on voter turnout in the south and west sides and if it’s cold we know the turnout always favors the candidates endorsed by MJM.

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