Brian Gaines, a political science professor at the University of Illinois, made a prediction just after the 2018 elections: If the local congressman, Rep. Rodney Davis, could survive that year’s Democratic wave, then the Republican would be safe through 2020.
Now Gaines has lost confidence in his prognosis.
“I still think that’s true, but I’m a little more inclined to think he could lose this election,” said Gaines, a professor at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the university, who recently ventured out of Urbana-Champaign and into the district’s more rural parts.
“I was surprised how few Trump signs I saw,” he said.
Lobbyist-turned-politician Betsy Dirksen Londrigan used to raise money for Mike Madigan and his cronies.
Now, they’re bankrolling her campaign to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Today the NRCC launched a new ad in IL-13 reminding folks Betsy and Springfield corruption go hand in hand.
* My own prediction: If Congressman Davis holds on this year, it’ll be at least partially because of the late “Madigan” attacks on Dirksen Londrigan that have become ubiquitous in the district’s media markets. This race will show us which is more powerful: Significant Trump headwinds (as defined by actual data and bolstered by the Democrats’ healthcare argument) or the Illinois House Speaker, who polls worse than Trump but isn’t running the national government.
Forget about 2018, forget about non-existent yard signs that don’t vote anyway. Focus on what’s happening in the here and now.
I’m inclined to agree with his initial indicator that the worst is behind him. I think a high number of voters turning on Trump still fall for Davis’ “nice guy” schtick, as they don’t see all the rough politics his team has been pulling over the last few years.
In districts with more rural Trump supporters, this makes me wonder about the possibility of “Shy Trump” voters. I.e., voters (rightfully or wrongfully, especially in rural areas) concerned about violence against open shows of support for Trump/Republicans.
Davis has needed to embrace Trump as tight as he can while seemingly be bipartisan for the betterment of his district.
The leaning on “Because Madigan” to help Davis keep his seat is an indication that the think on Madigan is a greater pull to keep old school GOP “home” for him, and how tough the headwinds are with Trump, running “with” and with Trump, and look bipartisan in the times of Trump.
It’s a needle with a small eye, but there’s an eye to thread that needle, especially for an incumbent and that power.
Hence the “wrongfully.” I’d argue that the possibility of people being irrationally concerned about a low-probability event approaches 100% in a secluded, limited information access/utilization environment.
Another considerable factor to consider is university turnout during the pandemic. Can BDL come out of Champaign Co. with a 23,000 vote cushion again in 2020? Presumably, half of the 2018 UIUC vote graduated. Have the Dems been able to get the freshmen and sophomores registered? Same-day/grace period registration will help, but how effective will turnout efforts be if access to campus is limited? And how many fewer students are actually on campus? When the difference between winning and losing is 2,000 votes, how these questions are answered will go a long way toward determining the winner.
I think Rodney hangs on and survives. He is working it hard.
As to the whole sign issue, yes, signs don’t vote but they are a bit of an indicator. We normally don’t have signs, but this year we have two in the picture windows since there has been a bit of sign disappearance here in town.
Of the 14 counties in the 13th District, there was only 1 in 2018 that had a winning margin of less than 10% (Madison). If I was with the Londrigan campaign, I would try to improve in Madison on their 6% loss and increase the 10% margin in her home county of Sangamon. Londrigan would be ecstatic to hit 40% in any of the smallest 9 counties.
If I was with Davis, I’d try to get back above 40% in McLean and 60% in Macon, which he accomplished prior to 2018. Davis would be thrilled to get even 35% in Champaign this time or lose by less than the 23k total from 2018.
i know yard signs don’t vote but i do think the dem base is more activated in mclean county in 2020 vs. 2016 based on the # of biden signs around town this year vs. hillary signs in 2016.
davis i think has an advantage though if isu/uiuc students are less motivated to vote or simply don’t vote from campus due to remote learning this year.
fwiw, this twitter thread has a map that predicts mclean county and sangamon county to flip from trump to biden based on demographic shifts in electoral support. i am assuming they are expecting white college-educated voters to reject trump in a big way.
- Gruntled University Employee - Tuesday, Oct 13, 20 @ 2:46 pm:
I know that yard signs don’t vote but I’m surprised at the number of Biden signs that I have been seeing next to farm houses and farm fields. I can’t remember seeing one Clinton sign in an agricultural setting 4 years ago.
Yard signs don’t vote, but they are usually regarded as a sign of enthusiasm among voters. Therefore, more enthusiasm for Trump (the signs) translates into a greater likelihood that those same voters will show up and vote for Davis as well. We can disagree about whether signs really correlate to enthusiasm, but working from that premise, it’s far from the most face palm worthy thing…I say as a political science major from U of I, haha…
I have also been seeing more Biden/Harris signs out than Trump/Pence. We could look at it from the angle “People are worried about their property being damaged”, but lets be honest the “yard sign debate” really falls down to the campaign. Why would the Trump campaign waste money and resources (yard signed) in an unwinnable state?
As for the congressional race, the Madigan ads work south of I-80. I would be interested in hearing polling of how many people moving away from Trump to Biden but are still “conservatives” are voting for Rodney. I think there is some writing on the wall if we knew that answer.
I agree with OW. Trump will fix the GOP turnout problem that almost sank Davis in 18. Knock down Londrigan with swing voters with Madigan ads. Pull together a small percent of Democrats who like Rodney. There’s your W.
Polls don’t vote. Campaign funds don’t vote. Signs don’t vote. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t indicators, smh. And I say this as a person who believes, now more than ever, that traditional “indicators” don’t mean as much as they used to, and shouldn’t be given too much weight, if any.