Post-Election Analysis: Reasons to Be Thankful

This article comes from the December 2012 issue of Tenth News, Tenth Dems’ full-color monthly newsletter.

by John Hmurovic

In November, we give thanks. As Tenth Congressional District Democrats we are thankful for the reelection of President Obama, for Brad Schneider becoming our first Democratic congressman in decades (and, for some areas of the 10th, in more than a century), for a record number of Democratic state legislators who will represent us in Springfield, and, begrudgingly for many, we maybe, possibly, perhaps, ought to, kind of, should be thankful for Democratic State Party Chair Mike Madigan and other Illinois Democratic Party leaders.

What? The guy who Republicans, the Chicago Tribune and many Democrats love to hate? That Mike Madigan?

If you count yourself among those who are not fond of the Illinois House Speaker and head of the Illinois Democratic Party, pause and give him at least one moment of appreciation. Yes, kudos to Brad Schneider for defeating a tough, well-funded opponent, and kudos to a strong team of state legislative candidates for winning almost every contested seat within the 10 th District. But maybe we owe at least a tip of the hat to Mike Madigan for his leadership in redrawing the congressional and legislative maps after the 2010 census.

Not convinced? Look at the numbers.

The Congressional Race

Before the election, it was said the new 10 th District, the one drawn after the 2010 campaign, was two to four percent more Democratic. With Congressman-elect Schneider receiving 50.5 percent of the vote, that added edge mattered.

Schneider received 38.4 percent in Libertyville Township and lost in the townships of Shields (41.4 percent), West Deerfield (47.5 percent), Northfield (47.7 percent), Vernon (47.9 percent), and Wheeling (49.2 percent), all of which were a part of the old 10th. The two most reliably Democratic parts of the old 10 th District did come through for Schneider. He won big in Waukegan (72.5 percent) and Moraine Townships (60.9 percent). But that wasn’t enough. Parts of the new 10 th added in during reapportionment provided the extra boost. He won big in Zion (63.0 percent) and Maine Townships (59.5). Districtwide, Schneider won by nearly 2,700 votes; he carried Zion and Maine townships by nearly 4300 votes. Without the new townships, the outcome may have been different.

But the new district boundaries don’t tell the whole story. In townships where we can make a direct comparison, Schneider ran slightly better than Democratic congressional nominee Dan Seals in the presidential year of 2008 when Seals lost with 47.4 percent of the vote. Seals ran better than Schneider in Shields (43.9 to 41.4 percent), and the two received the same vote percentage in Vernon. But Schneider did better in Waukegan (72.5 percent for Schneider and 71.8 percent for Seals), West Deerfield (47.5 percent versus 44.1 percent) and Moraine (60.9 percent versus 55.6 percent). Without that improvement by Schneider, even the new maps would not have made a difference in the final outcome.

State Legislative Races

The state legislative districts were also redrawn after the 2010 election, and after this year’s election the northeast corner of Illinois will be represented by more Democratic legislators than it has probably ever had. Not only did incumbents Dan Kotowski and Terry Link win, but Daniel Biss and Julie Morrison held onto seats of retiring Democrats. Melinda Bush won a Republican seat, and Ira Silverstein and John Mulroe were unopposed. That adds up to seven Democratic state senators who will represent 10 th District residents, while Republicans held on to just two seats.

It’s the same story in the House. Robyn Gabel, Elaine Nekritz, Rita Mayfield, and Carol Sente won reelection. State Representative John D’Amico was unopposed. Those five Democrats are joined by newly elected state representatives Laura Fine, Marty Moylan, Scott Drury, and Sam Yingling. Democrats won eight of nine contested races for state representative within 10 th District precincts. It was an impressive, unprecedented victory. Again, the candidates and their campaigns deserve most of the credit, but the new district maps certainly helped.

Lake County Races

Maps were also an issue in Lake County Board races. This time, it was the Republican-controlled board that redrew the boundaries to benefit the majority’s party. But election results show that map-drawing isn’t enough. You need good candidates to win. Going into this election Republicans held a five-seat majority on the Lake County Board, but with impressive victories by Democrats, including newcomers Steve Mandel and Sandra Hart, the Republican majority remains at five seats, despite the best efforts of Republican map-drawing.

Lake County Recorder Mary Ellen Vanderventer led all Democrats on the ballot. In just the 10 th District portion of Lake County she received 62.1 percent of the vote. No one ran better than that.

Thomas Rudd held onto the coroner’s seat for the Democrats, with 54.3 percent of the vote in 10 th District precincts helping him secure the win.

State’s Attorney candidate Chris Kennedy probably wishes all of Lake County followed the 10 th District’s lead. He received 53.0 percent of the vote in 10 th District precincts, which was stronger than Brad Schneider’s 50.4 percent in precincts where they were on the same ballot. But the 12,000 vote margin of victory for Kennedy in the 10 th got wiped out by a 17,000 vote loss in Lake County precincts in the 6 th and 14 th Congressional Districts.

The Presidential Race

Nationwide, Barack Obama’s popular vote total dropped from 52.9 percent in 2008 to 51.4 percent in 2012. In the 10 th District, the total also dropped. Obama received 61.4 percent in the 10 th in 2008 and 58.1 percent this year. He dropped only 0.7 percent in Waukegan Township, but was down seven or eight percentage points in Moraine, Shields, Vernon, and West Deerfield townships. Still, in 2012, Obama was one of the strongest Democrats on 10 th District ballots. He ran 7.6 points ahead of Brad Schneider. In the 10 th District portion of Lake County he ran ahead of every countywide candidate except Mary Ellen Vanderventer (62.1 percent for her, 57.8 percent for him). In the Cook County portion of the district the President ran ahead of every other candidate but State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez (63.8 percent in 10 th District precincts for her, 59.3 percent for the President in those same precincts). Of the 18 townships that make up the 10 th District, President The Presidential Race Nationwide, Barack Obama’s popular vote total dropped from 52.9 percent in 2008 to 51.4 percent in 2012. In the 10 th District, the total also dropped. Obama received 61.4 percent in the 10 th in 2008 and 58.1 percent this year. He dropped only 0.7 percent in Waukegan Township, but was down seven or eight percentage points in Moraine, Shields, Vernon, and West Deerfield townships.

Still, in 2012, Obama was one of the strongest Democrats on 10 th District ballots. He ran 7.6 points ahead of Brad Schneider. In the 10 th District portion of Lake County he ran ahead of every countywide candidate except Mary Ellen Vanderventer (62.1 percent for her, 57.8 percent for him). In the Cook County portion of the district the President ran ahead of every other candidate but State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez (63.8 percent in 10 th District precincts for her, 59.3 percent for the President in those same precincts).

Of the 18 townships that make up the 10 th District, President Obama won 14 of them, losing only slightly in the consistently Republican townships of Shields (49.2 percent for Obama), Benton (47.7 percent) and Libertyville (47.6 percent). It was a solid victory in the 10th, and a very satisfying one nationwide Obama won 14 of them, losing only slightly in the consistently Republican townships of Shields (49.2 percent for Obama), Benton (47.7 percent) and Libertyville (47.6 percent). It was a solid victory in the 10th, and a very satisfying one nationwide.

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