November 16, 2016



What's wrong with Illinois? Or, from a different partisan perspective, what's right with Illinois? The Republicans think the former, the Democrats the latter.

According to unofficial results, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by an overwhelming 859,319 votes in Illinois, 2,977,498-2,118,179, winning 55 percent to 39 percent. That is consistent with Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 Illinois blowouts, when he won by 1,388,169 votes and 884,296 votes, respectively. In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Tammy Duckworth trounced incumbent Mark Kirk by 758,264 votes, 2,908,363-2,150,099, winning 54 percent to 40 percent.

Trump won 92 of Illinois' 102 counties, yet Clinton's 10 counties made Trump's exurban and rural vote inconsequential. Clinton won all the urban areas, and she got a startling majority in the collar Counties, which historically have been Republican.

Clinton, as expected, carried Cook County, running up a 905,656-134,579 majority in Chicago and a 680,261-312,876 majority in the suburbs. Obama won the county by 982,210 votes in 2008 and by 945,034 votes in 2012. Any time a Democrat wins Cook County by more than 500,000 votes, he or she is elected statewide. Clinton won Cook County by 1,138,462 votes. Clinton won more than 95 percent of the vote in Chicago's black-majority wards.

The Collar Counties, DuPage, Lake, Will, Kane and McHenry, plus DeKalb County, historically have been the Republicans' bulwark. A Republican candidate, such as Bruce Rauner in 2014, could carry the "collars" by 200,000 votes and Downstate by 400,000 votes and win. This election shattered that template. Clinton won Will County 146,230-129,726, Kane County 81,697-74,613, and amazingly carried DuPage County 226,577-165,808, the first time DuPage has supported a Democratic presidential candidate since the Jurassic Age. McHenry County provided a 71,117-59,827 Trump win. Overall, the "collars" went for Clinton by nearly 200,000 votes.

Add to that Clinton's base among minorities, women, students and liberals in and around urbanized Peoria, Champaign-Urbana and East Saint Louis, and Illinois can be deemed as habitually and unchangeably Democratic as California, which Clinton won 5,481,885-2,965,704; New York, which Clinton won 4,143,541-2,637,678 (with Manhattan going 90 percent for her); Massachusetts, which Clinton won 1,964,766-1,083,069; and Maryland, which Clinton won 1,497,951-873,646. Those four states, plus Illinois, gave Clinton 16,064,944 votes, and a 6,387,367 plurality over Trump.

The latest popular vote tabulation is roughly 61,890,312-60,925,616, a 964,696-vote edge to Clinton, with Trump winning 31 states to Clinton's 20 (including the District of Columbia). Illinois conclusively, and perhaps permanently, joins the Democrats' hard-core presidential base, which is centered on the coasts: California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and New Mexico in the West and New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland in the East. Illinois, with 21 electoral votes, is now the Democrats' "Mid-Coastal" anchor. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the White House, and the Democrats' base is 228.

As show in the adjoining chart, Illinois' demographics differ significantly from adjacent Great Lakes or "Rust Belt" states in two ways: Clinton won Illinois because the state's minority vote is much higher (30.4 percent) and its rural vote is much lower (14.9 percent), according to the 2010 census. The eight states listed all have a blue collar population of about 40 percent, but Illinois has about a third more blacks and Hispanics and is about a third to half less rural, and the preponderance of union members are from the public sector, not the trades. Pennsylvania mirrors Illinois in rural/urban composition, but it has only half as many minorities. Pennsylvania, with 21 electoral votes, went for Trump by 68,236 votes, despite Obama winning by 309,480 votes in 2012.

Michigan, with 17 electoral votes, went for Trump by 11,837 votes, despite Obama winning by 449,313 votes in 2012. Ohio, with 20 electoral votes, went for Trump by 454,983 votes, despite Obama winning by 166,277 votes in 2012. Wisconsin, with 10 electoral votes, went for Trump by 27,257 votes, despite Obama winning by 231,019 votes in 2012. Indiana, with 11 electoral votes, went for Trump by an astounding 525,823 votes, largely because of Mike Pence being on the ticket, double Mitt Romney's 2012 267,656-vote margin.

In those eight Midwest states, a 2012 Obama win by 2,072,598 votes was transformed into a 2016 Trump win by 334,438 votes, a phenomenal turnaround of 2,407,036 votes. Not in Illinois, where Clinton's 2,977,498-vote total was just 42,014 votes less than Obama's 3,019,512, while the Republican vote actually declined from 2,135,216 in 2012 to 2,118,179 for Trump.

Prior to Nov. 8, Republican "Chicken Littles" in Washington whined and clucked that Trump's candidacy would bring electoral disaster to Republican congressional and state candidates. Trump, they moaned, was the only Republican who could possibly lose to Clinton, and they fixated on how their minions could "distance" themselves from Trump and get pro-Clinton split-ballot votes.

In hindsight, the results prove that Trump was the only Republican who could have possibly won. Not Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul or Chris Christie. They could not have engendered a "movement." They could not have energized working class and rural voters, as Trump did. Each would have lost to Clinton, and it was the Trump voters, so eager for change, who kept the Republicans in control of Congress. The election was basically a straight-ticket election, and only eight House or Senate incumbents lost.

Illinois, as usual, was illustrative. In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Mark Kirk tried feverishly to distance himself from Trump while Democrat Tammy Duckworth clutched onto Clinton tightly. It didn't matter. There were few split tickets. Duckworth trounced Kirk 2,908,363-2,150,099, a 54 percent to 40 percent, 758,264-vote blowout, and the worst drubbing of an Illinois senator since Democrat Paul Douglas beat Curly Brooks 2,147,754-1,740,026 in 1948.

In the presidential race, Clinton won 2,977,498-2,118,179, which meant that Duckworth got 69,135 fewer votes than Clinton and Kirk got 31,920 more votes than Trump. Arguably, that meant 30,000 to 40,000 Clinton voters backed "independent" Kirk, a pathetic showing in a race where the candidates spent close to $20 million apiece.

In other states, however, the Trump vote was a lifesaver for down-ballot Republicans. In Pennsylvania, where Senator Pat Toomey faced Democrat Katie McGinty and trailed in the polls by 2 to 5 percent, Trump won 2,912,941-2,844,705, boosting Toomey to a 2,893,833-2,793,668 upset. In Wisconsin, where Senator Ron Johnson was deemed DOA, trailed by 10 points throughout the campaign, and faced the 18-year Democratic senator whom he beat in 2010 by 105,041 votes, Trump won 1,409,467-1,382,210 and Johnson won 1,479,262-1,380,496. Turnout was up 700,000 votes over 2010, but Johnson still won by 98,766 votes.

In Indiana, former Democratic senator Evan Bayh was supposed to be a lock for his old seat, and he was up in the polls by 10 points in mid-summer, but then along came Trump-Pence and disclosures that Bayh lived and worked in Washington as a lobbyist. Trump won 1,555,923-1,029,197, Republican U.S. Representative Todd Young crushed Bayh 1,421,687-1,155,108, and Republican Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb was elected governor 1,395,186-1,232,027, succeeding Pence.

In Missouri, Republican incumbent Roy Blunt went into the election in a dead heat. Trump swept Missouri 1,585,753-1,054,889, a thunderous margin of 530,864 votes, carrying in Blunt 1,370,240-1,283,222 and Republican Eric Greitens for governor 1,424,730-1,263,110. The Democrats ran 200,000 votes ahead of Clinton, to no avail.

In Florida, Arizona, Iowa and Ohio, the "Trump effect" had no effect in Senate races. Being positioned as anti-Trump or non-Trump worked. Marco Rubio, a 2016 presidential primary loser to Trump, won re-election in Florida 4,822,182-4,105,251, a whopping margin of 716,931 votes, while Trump won 4,605,515-4,485,745, a margin of 119,770 votes. Rubio ran 216,667 votes ahead of Trump, so more than 600,000 Clinton Democrats backed Rubio, whose presidential aspirations are on hold until 2024. John McCain, the 80-year-old 2008 loser to Obama, proved his iconic status in Arizona, winning 1,034,114-798,508, a margin of 235,606 votes, while Trump won 973,026-888,401. Incumbent Rob Portman won by 1.1 million votes in Ohio, 600,000 more votes than Trump, and veteran Charles Grassley won by 375,000 votes in Iowa, 225,000 votes better than Trump.

There was some Trump blowback in Kentucky. Incumbent Rand Paul, who ran against Trump in the primaries and who was not especially supportive of Trump in the election, won 1,090,151-813,222, while Trump won the state 1,202,942-628,834, a blowout margin of 574,108 votes. Paul won by 276,929 votes.

In Nevada and New Hampshire, the presidential race mirrored the Senate election. Heavy Hispanic voting around Las Vegas tipped Nevada to Clinton 537,753-511,319, and Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto won the Senate race 520,658-494,427. Quirky New Hampshire went for Clinton 346,816-345,379, a margin of 1,437 votes, and Republican senator Kelly Ayotte lost 353,978-353,262, a margin of 714 votes.

The Trump campaign didn't have a "ground game," it relied on self-motivation. The Clinton campaign didn't benefit from a "gender vote," other issues prevailed, and Washington pretty much stayed the same.

(Next week: An analysis of the McAuliffe win and the "Trump effect" in Chicago.)

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