good news for Republican U.S. Representative Bob
Dold is that Barack Obama won't carry the remapped
North Shore 10th U.S. House District with 61
percent of the vote, as he did in 2008. The bad
news is that Obama will win it in November with 57
to 59 percent of the vote.
means that Obama's 2008 plurality of 67,030 votes
over John McCain will be in the realm of 60,000
votes over Mitt Romney.
good news for Dold is that his predecessor, U.S.
Senator Mark Kirk, withstood the 2008 Obama
landslide, with an incredible 23 percent of the
Obama voters (about 41,000) also voting for Kirk.
The bad news is that Dold isn't Kirk.
has only been in office for 2 years, contrasted
with Kirk's 8 years in 2008. Dold hasn't yet
entrenched himself, is still relatively unknown,
hasn't developed an indelible
"independent" image, and won't win the
support of one in five 2012 Obama voters.
good news for Dold is that 2012 will not be a
poisonous anti-Republican or anti-incumbent year,
as was 2008 and 2006, but that's also the bad
news. Dold needs a poisonous anti-Democratic and
was elected in 2010 atop an anti-Obama wave, as
independent voters broke heavily against the
president and the Democrats, and Republican
turnout was heavy. This is not a "wave"
election. Romney will not run as dismally as
McCain did in the district, but he will not amass
the 45 percent of the vote that Dold needs to be
good news for Dold is that his Democratic
opponent, Deerfield businessman Brad Schneider, is
bland, boring, largely unknown and running an
insipid and uninspiring campaign. The bad news is
that blandness and insipidity are suddenly
fashionable on the North Shore.
campaign theme, according to his media
spokesperson, is that if elected, he will
"work together (with other members),
regardless of party, to get things done."
That seems to be striking a responsive chord.
After a decade of tumultuous elections, with $8
million spent in 2008 and $5.5 million spent in
2006, voters are fatigued and disillusioned. Kirk
postured as a fiscal conservative and a social
liberal, accurately reflecting sentiment in this
upscale district with a significant Jewish
population, comprising 18 to 20 percent of the
Dan Seals, who is of biracial heritage, was well
known, stirred fervor -- at least in 2006 and 2008
-- and ran as an unabashed liberal. In 2006 he
spent $1.8 million, pounded Kirk as a pro-Bush
toady, and got 46.5 percent of the vote. In 2008
Seals literally hugged Obama, again tied Kirk to
the reviled Bush, spent $3.6 million, and got 47.4
percent of the vote, running an astounding 42,895
votes behind Obama in the district. In 2010, with
Kirk running statewide, Seals ran again, but he
had worn out his welcome, and he engendered no
enthusiasm. He embraced "Obamacare,"
avoided any commitment to be a robotic
Obama/Pelosi congressional vote, tried to portray
Dold as a Tea Party "extremist," and
lost to Dold by 4,651 votes, getting 48.9 percent
of the vote. Each candidate spent $2.9 million.
this election, Schneider and his Democratic
handlers have accurately drawn the conclusion that
voters want productivity, not combativeness or
independence. They don't want a congressman who
will vote in lockstep with the pro-Obama (or
anti-Romney, if he wins) Democrats, or with the
anti-Obama or pro-Romney Republicans. A Republican
House majority in the 113th Congress is certain,
which means gridlock if Obama is re-elected. If
Schneider wins, he would be one of 435 House
members, and in the minority.
the contrast, if subtle, is clear: If he is
re-elected, Dold will occasionally dissent from
the Republican Majority, as Kirk did, thereby
demonstrating his "independence" but
accomplishing nothing. If Schneider is elected, he
will eschew chronic partisanship, occasionally
defect from the Nancy Pelosi-led Democratic
minority and vote with the Republicans on some
issues, perhaps accomplishing something. Whether
that includes entitlement reform is unclear.
good news for Dold is that he has avoided any Tea
Party association. He is pro-choice on abortion,
and he supported funding for Planned Parenthood.
He is not polarizing, not ideological, not
confrontational, and not bombastic, like his
colleague, U.S. Representative Joe Walsh (R-8).
But the bad news is that he is a Republican. The
Schneider campaign charges that Dold has
"voted with the Republican majority on every
key piece of legislation," including
repealing "Obamacare," auditing the
Federal Reserve, civil contempt of the attorney
general, the $3.5 trillion budget, the payroll
tax, the debt reduction of $2.1 trillion, the
balanced budget, the Patriot Act extension, the
National Public Radio funding cut and House salary
catastrophically bad news for Dold is that the
Democratic-crafted congressional remap made the
new 10th District generically, perhaps hopelessly,
Democratic. "No Republican is going to win
that district," predicted Cook County
Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-13) of Evanston.
"It's just too Democratic."
56 percent of the old district was in Cook County,
and it took in Republican-leaning Inverness,
Rolling Meadows, Wheeling, Arlington Heights,
Prospect Heights and Mount Prospect, plus all of
Glenview and Democratic-leaning Northbrook,
Glencoe, Winnetka and Wilmette. In 2008 a total of
161,214 votes were cast in Cook County, which Kirk
won by 16,498 votes, and 130,044 votes were cast
in Lake County, which Seals won by 1,592 votes. In
2010 Dold won Cook County by 10,321 votes while
Seals won Lake County by 5,670 votes.
the remapped 10th District, Lake County now casts
55 percent of the vote, with Schneider, who is
Jewish, assured of solid majorities in Deerfield,
Lincolnshire, Buffalo Grove and Highland Park, as
well as in Democratic-leaning upscale towns such
as Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, where Obama is
strong and where Seals ran well. The remap, which
was masterminded by the Springfield Democrats,
chopped out the Republicans' Cook County base,
which is basically everything west of Illinois
Route 83 (Elmhurst Road); only Wheeling, Glenview,
Northbrook, Glencoe, Winnetka and parts of Park
Ridge, Morton Grove and Mount Prospect remain.
old district took in the east half of Lake County,
east of U.S. Route 45, along the Interstate 94
corridor, south of U.S. Route 20 (Belvidere Road).
It now runs north of Waukegan to the Wisconsin
line, absorbing working-class and Democratic
Gurnee and Zion, and west to U.S. Route 12,
absorbing Round Lake, Grayslake, Fox Lake, Gages
Lake, Lake Villa and Lindenhurst -- all
Republican-leaning areas, but where Dold is
in the old 10th District was 202,207 in 2006 (with
Seals losing 107,929-94,278), 291,258 in 2008
(with Seals losing 153,082-138,176), and 215,231
in 2010 (with Seals losing 109,941-105,290). That
averaged 112,581 votes for the Democrat and
123,650 votes for the Republican.
in November will be about 275,000, and the
Republican/Dold base has shrunk to barely 100,000.
Obama will get around 160,000 votes. That means
that to win, Dold needs one in five, or at least
30,000-plus, Obama voters to opt for him.
will be an Obama drop-off," said John
McGovern, Dold's campaign manager, who predicted
that Romney will get 45 percent of the vote in the
district. McGovern said that Schneider, who won
his March primary with 46.9 percent of the vote,
has no special appeal, unlike Seals and 2000
candidate Lauren Beth Gash, who motivated their
workers. "He's a cookie-cutter
Democrat," McGovern said.
Democrats are energized," said Suffredin, who
expects that a plethora of down-ballot state
legislative races, including the Morrison-Friedman
and Bush-Neal Illinois Senate races in Lake County
and the Sente-Mathias Illinois House race in
Buffalo Grove, will drive turnout. "Whoever
supports those candidates, and whoever supports
Obama, will vote for Schneider," Suffredin
is no Republican organization," another
Democrat said. "Dold's on his own."
good news for Dold is that, from 2011 through
Sept. 30, he raised a hefty $2.9 million and had
$2.1 million on hand. That means he can afford the
pricey Chicago media market, and he spent almost
$1 million during June and July on television ads
hyping his "independence." The bad news
is that the ad blitz may not have moved the
most recent poll, paid for by the Democrats, had
the race tied at 46-46. That's dubious. A June
poll had the race at 39-39. Dold's campaign has
released no polling data. In all likelihood, the
race is probably 40-40 -- Dold versus a generic
Democrat. It's an ominous sign when any incumbent
is well under 50 percent.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a
conundrum: How to intervene? They can't go
positive. Schneider is devoid of charisma, and
promising to "work with the Republicans"
is not a vote getter. They can't piggyback on
Obama, hyping an Obama-Schneider team, because
10th District voters do not want a lapdog as
congressman. They can't go negative and tar Dold
as a Tea Party "extremist," because he
isn't. So expect an insipid hybrid: Dold is a
"partisan Republican." Dold is
"part of the problem" in Washington.
"Let's work together."
of Dold's mailers or ads mentions that he is a
Republican. "I'm an independent" worked
for Kirk, who got 53 percent of the vote in the
district in 2010. Expect Kirk to give Dold a
prediction: Had the Democrats nominated a more
charismatic candidate, or a Jewish woman, Dold
would be toast, but $3 million makes him
competitive. In a turnout of 275,000, Schneider
wins by 138,000-137,000.