Four big moments in politics coming to Chicago and Illinois in 2020

The outcome of the Illinois March primary may be a deciding vote in the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

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Dick Simpson, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, warns that the population of Illinois could be undercounted significantly in the 2020 Census, resulting in a loss of representation in Congress and less federal funding.

Dick Simpson, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, warns that the population of Illinois could be undercounted significantly in the 2020 Census, resulting in a loss of representation in Congress and less federal funding.

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Exciting times are ahead for Chicago, Illinois and the nation as four major political events play out in 2020:

1. The new year, 2020, will bring the most important election of the 21st century, determining the presidency, Congress and direction of the country.

2.The Illinois primary in March may determine the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

3.The 2020 Census likely will result in an undercount that could cost Illinois two members of Congress and hundreds of millions of dollars.

4.May, 2020 will mark Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s first year in office and reveal whether she has opened a new era in Chicago political history.

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Opinion

The 2020 election will be what political scientists call a critical realigning election.If President Donald Trump and a Republican congressional majority are reelected, the broad conservative coalition of Ronald Reagan will move further to the right and Congress and the country will become more polarized.Tea Party Republicans will govern for the next generation with only a few Democratic interruptions.In response, the Democratic Party will become the party of Democratic Socialists.

The outcome of the Illinois March primary may be a deciding vote in the race for the Democratic nomination for president.The field of candidates already is narrowing, with candidates dropping out as they fail to raise enough money and support.After the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries in February, followed by the Super Tuesday primaries on March 3, the Democratic field will have narrowed to three or four candidates.

Illinois’ primary, on March 17, may well be the defining moment — if not for cinching the nomination, then for gaining the advantage in the delegate count at the Democratic National Convention.

The 2020 census in Illinois is likely to suffer from a serious undercount of 100,000 people or more.

Why?

In part because this will be the first census conducted primarily online.While census takers will go to find the people who don’t respond, the digital divide means those people will be hard to locate.Some populations, such as homeless people, are especially hard to count.

But an overriding problem is Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.If you had an undocumented immigrant in your family, would you chance filling out the census form on the promise that it won’t guide the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to deport you or a relative?The fact that the citizenship question has been kept off the census form will help, but every immigrant still will have real qualms about filling out the form.

Because Illinois has lost population in the last decade, the state will lose at least one U.S. House seat. If the census results in an undercount as well, the state will lose a second seat and hundreds of millions of federal aid dollars.

In May, Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago’s new City Council will have been in office for one year. In their first six months, we have seen three main tests:

1) Mayor Lightfoot gained a strong majority in the Council and enacted strong ethics reforms.

2) A Chicago Public Schools teachers’ strike was settled.

3) The city’s 2020 budget, after the closing of a $838 million shortfall, was enacted without major property tax increases.

However, there have been only 20 divided roll call votes in the City Council thus far.Too few to tell if this Council will continue to be a rubber stamp or morph into a genuine legislative body. Lightfoot’s administration has enacted ethics reforms, but the progressive agenda of cutting crime, ending police abuse, bringing economic development to the neighborhoods and solving tough problems such as affordable housing, homelessness and mental health services remain ahead.

Our democracy is in crisis.2020 gives us the chance to fix it. Hold on to your hats for an exciting but bumpy ride.

Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman, is a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.

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