Gov. Pat Quinn probably owes his political life to President Barack Obama.
Quinn’s edge in the governor’s race over Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, is less than 9,000 votes. Yet Brady consistently came out ahead in voter polls. The difference seems to come down to the city of Chicago. The number of Windy City voters far outnumbered the percentage who told survey takers they would “definitely” vote on Nov. 2.
Obama made three trips to Chicago to rally Democrats during the last few weeks, including a visit last weekend. On Tuesday, he phoned in to a Chicago radio station to urge people to get out and vote. The resulting vote from Chicago put Quinn 400,000 votes ahead. Even though Brady solidly won in the collar counties and downstate, he has apparently ended up a bit short.
Ironically, Obama could not save his friend, basketball companion and political apprentice Alexi Giannoulias, who lost Obama’s old Senate seat to U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk. That election also was closer than voter surveys would have suggested.
Quinn had told people his strategy was to advertise almost exclusively in Chicago, whipping up his base of support. Not many thought that would be a winning formula. Quinn gets the last laugh … except that he’ll also take some blame from fellow Democrats in the Illinois House and Senate who lost close races. Some of those candidates might have liked to see a little more competition at the top of the ticket in the areas where Brady won by a wide margin.
Sen. Deanna Demuzio, D-Carlinville, lost her 49th District seat by about 2,500 votes to construction company owner Sam McCann of Carlinville. She might not have wanted to hug Quinn in public if he had come into the area to rally Democratic voters, but she might have appreciated not being the only “target” seen by voters.
Who knows whether stronger, and more statewide, campaigning by Quinn might have energized Democrats who stayed home on election day, or have swayed a few voters in ways that would have been doubly felt as his party gained as the opposition lost ground.
Maybe 2,500 votes would have been a stretch for Quinn to move. On the other hand, does anyone believe that Obama was not responsible for at least the 9,000 vote edge that Quinn enjoys?