Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Paul Green’s Vote Analysis of the March, 2006 Primary: Food for Much Thought by Republicans

After every election, Dr. Paul Green, friend, Rubloff professor of political science at Roosevelt University and director of its Institute of Politics, provides a learned and fascinating survey which become grist for discussion for weeks thereafter. This Blog has his survey for the past Illinois primary election containing (a) analysis of the statewide voter turnout; (b) Democratic primary results for governor, state treasurer and Cook county board president and (c) Republican primary results for governor and lieutenant governor. Paul’s views are, of course, his own but come from one who is not only highly trained as a political prognosticator but who has generally succeeded to the high standing the late Milt Rakove (a friend of both of ours) occupied as a provocative and exciting stimulant-generator of state political thought.

This Blog will attempt to summarize the data, Paul’s analyses and when indicated provide its own views in several parts beginning with Part I: Turnout. It will not attempt to saturate this material with statistics which you can get by reading the full report. For a copy of Paul’s work you can reach him by email at pgreen@roosevelt.edu or by fax at (312) 341-4325.

I: Turnout. Lower for Many Reasons.

The main story in his view involves the low turnout compared to the last off -year of 2002which beset all four voting regions of the state: Chicago…the suburban Cook 30 townships…the five Collar counties…and downstate. Why? Both parties had hotly contested gubernatorial primaries in 2002 (Jim Ryan vs. Pat O’Malley vs. Corrine Wood in the GOP) and Rod Blagojevich vs. Paul Vallas vs. Roland Burris is the Democratic) as well as the Democrats’ exciting race for AG (Lisa Madigan vs. John Schmidt). (Frankly, I thought the governorship race in the GOP was gripping in 2006 because it had ideological spread, but Green points out bitterness may have turned off voters along with…the trial and conviction of George Ryan…and the new voting machines that “created havoc in many polling places.” His view is that all of the above explains “in part” the vote shortfall. May be. But he submits another reason which I personally agree with: the continued substitution of paid TV spots that blast candidates which has all but replaced informative debate and the traditional knocking on doors by precinct workers (except in high organization area of Chicago).

Let me interject here that the Illinois Republican party has not had a “ground game” for many years (except in 2004 under the aegis of the Bush people). The Illinois GOP seems convinced that the way to victory is to raise scads of dough and put on TV spots, not spending much or hardly anything at all on political organization training. Despite the generally lagging turnout…

(A). Low Turnout Hikes Chicago and 30 Suburban Townships in Democratic Tally.

It has become even more vital in the party’s primary battles.” Though Chicago and suburban Cook suffered huge reduction in voter turnout compared to the 2002 Democratic primary, “percentage-wise Chicago and especially the thirty suburban townships increased their percentage of the statewide Democratic vote.” Twenty years ago the city’s Democratic vote leaders were the white ethnic wards. Last March the top ten Democratic wards consisted of seven south side black wards and three white wards—two of which have growing Hispanic population. In that group, the 19th ward in largely white far-south Beverly led the field although with diminished numbers as did the 23rd (home to the Lipinski’s) and the 13th home to Mike Madigan. Their vote power has diminished, however, because more Hispanics have moved in and “for a variety of reasons,” Hispanics “don’t vote anywhere near their population numbers.”

The “once vote-producing powerhouses” of the 14th (home to Alderman Ed Burke) and the 33rd (Alderman Dick Mell) have skidded “way down the Democrqatic turnout ladder”: 40th and 41st. In fact if you combined Mell and Burke’s turnouts, it still wouldn’t make the top ten turnout list. That’s interesting.

(B) Thornton, Proviso and Worth Dem Turnout Leaders.

Thornton, the south suburban township with its heavily African-American population led with 22,481 votes…with west suburban Proviso (with similar demographics) second: 18,479…Worth in southwest Cook with 17,659. (An item of interest to Yours Truly: Overall, eight townships cast over 10,000 Democratic votes besides the above three: Niles, 11,729…Rich, 11,457…Bremen, 11,363…Maine, 10,652…and Evanston, 10,008.

Significant Green findings: “Republicans had only eight 5000+ townships in the suburban 30. Most frightening for 2006 Illinois GOP statewide candidates is the fact that the Democrats’ big three suburban townships (Thornton-Proviso-Worth) by themselves equaled nearly 52 percent of the total GOP suburban primary turnout. Unless Republicans can upgrade their efforts in these three townships—look for massive Democratic margins in November from Thornton, Proviso and Worth townships.”

[The Green Report will continue to be excerpted here for several days].


  1. Several years ago, I sat with Dr. Green at City Club luncheon. The topic turned to the newly publish " American Pharoh" a thick catalogue of rants that was supposed to be a definitive biography of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Several acacemdics gushed over the book and it was clear that they had not read the book or were as ignorant of Chicago politics as most of its severest critics seem to be.

    I unzippered my teeth and said 'I think that the book is a dog.' Gasps of derision!!!!!!!!! Looks of Pitying Disgust, which I took for recognition of the roll of my lapels - never get Harris Tweed at Marshalls.

    Paul Green jumped in ' So do I!' and we then discussed the monstrous flaws that the authors used as pillars of theme.

    1. An Index devoid of political history
    2. A thematic paeon to Elizabeth Wood
    3. Rabidly Anti-Daley from the get-go
    4. Factually Flawed
    5. Thick with CHA data
    6. Ignored most political analysis from
    local Chicago & Illinois authorities
    7. Duller than PBS on steroids

    Dr. Green is no hair-shirt and does not have a dog in the fight and that is why he is almost always on the money.

  2. The primary is when early voting kicked in for the first time. Early voting was sold as a way to boost turnout. Turnout drooped.

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