Illinois - not as blue as you think

Randall Hoven
Illinois, the state that gave the world Barack Obama, is usually lumped in with California and New York as one of the quintessentially blue states. We run neck-and-neck with California for deep economic trouble from deficits and debt to unemployment and underfunded public pensions. But the state isn't really blue. Get rid of Chicago, and the place looks like Idaho or Utah.Look at the maps below of how Illinois counties voted for governor and senator, and how districts voted for representative. Illinois is one big red zone.

How Illinois Voted in 2010



Source: Washington Post.

And those little blue counties (St. Clair and Alexander) in the southwest were barely blue: a total difference of 1,490 votes in the governor race and 486 in the senate race. (St. Clair County, western-most blue county: Governor: 39,021 D to 37,653 R. Senate: 38,377 D to 38,069 R. Alexander County, southwest blue county: Governor: 1,369 Dem to 1,247 GOP. Senate: 1,356 D to 1,178 R.)

The reason the whole state gets painted blue on national maps is because of that little spittle of blue in the northeast corner, namely Chicago. In Cook County (Chicago), Democrat Pat Quinn received 487,928 more votes than Republican Bill Brady for governor. Alexi Giannoulias received 443,934 more votes than Mark Kirk.

Frankly, these results are fairly shocking to me. Even the Illinois counties surrounding St. Louis, with the exception of St. Clair County (which includes East St. Louis), went Republican for governor and senator. Those are usually pretty blue counties.
Illinois, the state that gave the world Barack Obama, is usually lumped in with California and New York as one of the quintessentially blue states. We run neck-and-neck with California for deep economic trouble from deficits and debt to unemployment and underfunded public pensions. But the state isn't really blue. Get rid of Chicago, and the place looks like Idaho or Utah.

Look at the maps below of how Illinois counties voted for governor and senator, and how districts voted for representative. Illinois is one big red zone.

How Illinois Voted in 2010



Source: Washington Post.

And those little blue counties (St. Clair and Alexander) in the southwest were barely blue: a total difference of 1,490 votes in the governor race and 486 in the senate race. (St. Clair County, western-most blue county: Governor: 39,021 D to 37,653 R. Senate: 38,377 D to 38,069 R. Alexander County, southwest blue county: Governor: 1,369 Dem to 1,247 GOP. Senate: 1,356 D to 1,178 R.)

The reason the whole state gets painted blue on national maps is because of that little spittle of blue in the northeast corner, namely Chicago. In Cook County (Chicago), Democrat Pat Quinn received 487,928 more votes than Republican Bill Brady for governor. Alexi Giannoulias received 443,934 more votes than Mark Kirk.

Frankly, these results are fairly shocking to me. Even the Illinois counties surrounding St. Louis, with the exception of St. Clair County (which includes East St. Louis), went Republican for governor and senator. Those are usually pretty blue counties.