* Daily Herald…
The general election ballot is set, but there’s much still to be known in the race to represent the 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Republican primary winner Jeanne Ives will challenge Democratic incumbent Sean Casten in the November contest to claim the House seat representing an area from Hinsdale and Naperville through Elgin to just beyond Long Grove.
But the spread of the coronavirus is keeping people in their homes, making early campaigning an unusual challenge. And changes in economic and social behavior caused by the virus mean typically safe bets about elections are off, political scientists say.
“Forecasts of the 2020 election are harder than ever given the unpredictable fallout from the pandemic,” said Brian Gaines, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Political Science and at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “With ordinary life on hold for who knows how long, it is hard to guess whether turnout will be nothing like usual, e.g. the usually reliable elderly staying home, and whether incumbents will be enjoying an approval rally or a backlash of frustration that normal life isn’t back.”
It’s far too soon to be speculating about fall turnout. We are literally in uncharted modern waters and we have no idea what the future will bring. As for canvasses, not that many general election candidates are out in full force in March and April anyway. Fundraising is an issue, however.
* The 1918 influenza pandemic dissipated over the summer, but then came back with a vengeance in the fall…
The election took place during the Spanish flu pandemic. Campaigning was disrupted around the country. In Nebraska, for instance, authorities lifted a ban on public gatherings in early November 1918 and permitted politicians to campaign five days prior to polls opening. The turnout was 40%, which was unusually low for a midterm election (turnout was at 52% and 50% in the 1910 and 1914 midterm elections). The low turnout was possibly due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.
* The virus slammed our collective consciousness shortly before the primary, so some folks didn’t take advantage of the mail-in ballot option. But the numbers in Chicago were pretty high…
Despite fears that the coronavirus would keep Chicagoans from voting, mail-in ballots trickling in are inching the city’s primary turnout to nearly 35%.
That’s down sharply from the 53.52% city turnout in the 2016 presidential primary and the 52.70% in 2008, but above or comparable to the city’s showing in the remaining three presidential primaries this century — including 2012 when only 24.46% of voters cast ballots. […]
On Monday, the city’s turnout rose by nearly three percentage points, going from 32.62% a few days after the primary to nearly 35% as the city counted additional vote-by-mail ballots that were postmarked in time. […]
Of the city’s 117,119 mail-in ballot applications, 91,706 ballots have been returned as of Monday morning, according to city records. Of that number, 8,437 were rejected for reasons like not being postmarked on or before March 17.
A big problem with mail-in ballots is that some election officials nitpick them to death. Maybe the signatures don’t exactly match, or some little bit of info is wrong or left off.
Also, remember how the city’s elections board screamed about “extremely” low turnout on primary day? That obviously wasn’t the case. That board either needs a total revamp or should be folded into Cook County’s system.
…Adding… With a hat tip to a commenter, the city’s turnout is now up to 37.18 percent.