Monday, August 20, 2012

Can Romney win Illinois?

Vernon Hills, Illinois, before the Illinois Primary
A poll conducted by Illinois Republican operative Michael McKeon shows Mitt Romney leading in Cook County's suburbs. Hey, that's where I live! I finally have something to cheer for here!

However, county-wide, President Obama leads.

Is that poll legit? Well, according to a poll commissioned by Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle that was released last week, Obama has a 67 percent favorable rating here.

The truth is probably somewhere in between. The Preckwinkle survey only asked questions about Democrats, so I wonder if her poll is legit.

In 2010 Mark Kirk nabbed Obama's old Senate seat for the GOP. He won 99 counties, losing only Cook, St. Clair (where East St. Louis is), and Alexander County, a sparsely-populated economic wasteland at the southern-tip of the state. Obama may not do any better.

To win Illinois any Dem, even Obama, needs to come out of Cook with a huge majority. While some votes are stolen in Chicago and the suburbs, this is the bare truth: the Democrats do a much better job than the hapless state GOP in identifying their voters and getting them to the polls.

AFSCME protester, Occupy Chicago rally,
October 2011
But this year the public-sector unions are angry with Governor Pat Quinn because his proposed state worker pension reforms will slash retiree benefits. The Chicago Teachers Union may go on strike soon--and they are angry with Rahm Emanuel, The One's former chief-of-staff.

The organized labor army of the Illinois Democratic Party, an effective force, could be a thinned herd by November.

More bad news for Dems: Illinois' unemployment rate is higher than the national average and while Quinn has taken heat for backing that common-sense pension reform legislation--the Democratic-controlled General Assembly failed to pass it in last week's special session. The $130 billion pension shortfall grows by $12 million per day. With no statewide Democrats on the ballot to vent their anger against--there isn't a target for their rage this fall.

Except for Obama.

Every Saturday the Democratic Party of Evanston sends volunteers to Iowa to do footwork for Obama. What if Chicago tells them to campaign for Obama not in Davenport--but on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River in Rock Island, Illinois?

This could be huge.

Obama is still the favorite to win his home state. But he's no longer the heavy favorite.

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