WASHINGTON — Gov. Pat Quinn is getting a double dose of help from the White House in his re-election battle; I’ve learned first lady Michelle Obama hits Chicago on Oct. 7 to headline a rally for the governor. She comes home after President Barack Obama stumps for Quinn in Chicago on Thursday.
Michelle Obama is stepping up her campaign activities — she is in Milwaukee on Monday for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke — with a sharply focused mission: to turn-out “drop-off” voters who most likely will support Democrats.
Those are folks who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and disappeared in 2010, when Democrats lost control of the House — with an assist from GOP Illinois congressional victories.
In 2014, activating likely Democratic drop-off voters is key to a Quinn victory.
“When you stay home, they win,” Michelle Obama said at a voter registration rally in Atlanta on Sept. 9.
She had a very similar message at a Democratic National Committee women’s event here on Sept. 18.
“Women, we don’t turnout for midterms. Minorities, we don’t turn out. We don’t have to convince anybody new; we just have to find us and get us registered,” Michelle Obama said.
Quinn is locked in a close battle with Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner, and White House political director David Simas told me in May that the White House would be strongly helping Quinn.
In Illinois, the Democraticcoordinated campaign, led by Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who also is up for re-election, analyzed the “drop-off” voter impact, starting at the 2008 high-water mark, when Obama first ran for president.
The Illinois Democratic study found two key facts that a source shared with me: About 1.6 million Illinois voters don’t vote in non-presidential years. And of that number, about 1.2 million are likely Democratic base voters — that is minorities, youths, young professionals and women.
The White House is delivering for Quinn in Illinois, the state where the first couple can be the most helpful because Illinois is where they generated a torrent of new voters in 2008 and 2012. Obama has low popularity ratings and is not stumping insome states where it would be counterproductive, but that’s not a factor in Illinois. In contrast, Michelle Obama is welcome everywhere.
Michelle Obama and Quinn have joined in a shared cause: helping military families. The first lady’s drive is called “Joining Forces.” On June 26, Michelle Obama was with Quinn in Chicago at the Calumet Armory when he signed a bill making it easier for military spouses to transfer their professional licenses to Illinois.
Michelle Obama on Sept. 18 said to female Democrats: “We need you to be even more passionate and more hungry because these midterm elections will be even harder and even closer that those presidential elections.”