Nearly 700,000 more ballots were cast in the 2018 Illinois elections compared with 2014, and J.B. Pritzker may have received nearly all of those votes.
In winning the Illinois governor’s race, Pritzker won 675,000 more votes statewide than Gov. Pat Quinn did in his failed re-election bid in 2014, based on unofficial numbers compiled by the Associated Press.
Several political analysts attributed the increased turnout to both an anti-President Donald Trump sentiment and to Pritzker’s well-financed, largely mistake-free campaign.
“He offered an alternative. When [Pritzker] met with people personally, he connected very well,” said John Jackson, visiting professor at Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. “The stories of his face-to-face meetings were uniformly positive in this region — and we’re southern Illinois, where it’s pretty tough for a multi-billionaire from Northern Illinois to sell himself.”
Four years ago, the mid-term election was more “benign,” said longtime political consultant Don Rose. This year, voters were “highly motivated” to come out.
“There was a fantastic amount of independent activity stimulated largely by Trump and substantially by [Gov. Bruce] Rauner,” Rose said. “The ‘blue wave’ that affected other places to varying degrees peaked here with a vast spread of Democratic voters all across the state.”
With the number of votes cast statewide up about 19 percent compared with four years ago, Pritzker outperformed his 2014 Democratic counterpart in nearly every part of the state, garnering more votes than Quinn in all but six of Illinois’ 102 counties.
• Pritzker prologue: Tax plan shift, blind trust talk, transition team tapped
• After victory, Pritzker names chief of staff, heavy-hitting transition team
• Pritzker price tag: Victory in gov race costly, no matter how you slice it
• Seeing red over Trump and Rauner, Democrats paint suburbs blue
• Emanuel outlines ambitious agenda for his four-month partnership with Pritzker
• Chicago Millennials outpace Baby Boomers at the ballot box
• Four years as punching bag appears to have made Madigan stronger
• Defeated Rauner wishes Pritzker ‘Godspeed’ — Democrat vows ‘rise we will’
In terms of vote share, Pritzker did better in every county across the state than Quinn, including 15 percentage points better in Cook County and 31 percentage points better in Champaign County.
This was especially true in Illinois’ biggest counties. In Cook County, where more than 3 million registered voters account for about 38 percent of the state’s electorate, 295,000 more ballots were cast than in 2014, an uptick of 22 percent. Unofficially, Chicago’s turnout stands at 55.6 percent this year, the highest of any midterm election since 1986. Pritzker earned 313,000 more votes from the county than Quinn did in 2014.
Across Illinois’ five largest counties — Cook DuPage, Lake, Will and Kane — Pritzker earned 493,000 more votes than Quinn in 2014. Rauner had 61,000 fewer votes in these counties than he had in 2014.