An unpopular governor. A deep-pocketed political opponent promising to do better. An electorate that agrees to give the challenger a shot — at least for one term.
Incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner’s loss to Democrat J.B. Pritzker in this year’s Illinois governor’s race shared some key similarities to the 2014 contest, when Rauner unseated former Gov. Pat. Quinn.
But there were key differences, too — especially in Chicago — between the 2014 and 2018 gubernatorial elections, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of the vote shows.
1. Pritzker did better in Chicago than Pat Quinn did.
Pritzker won by more than 650,000 votes, and his fellow Democrat Quinn lost in 2014 by 140,000 votes. While Pritzker did well outside of the city of Chicago, he also got 681,000 votes within city limits. That’s 173,000 more votes from Chicago than Quinn got in 2014. That, and the 7,800 fewer votes that Rauner got from Chicagoans this time around, would’ve been enough to keep Quinn in office.
2. More voters turned out citywide than in any other midterm race since 1986.
Pritzker got more votes in Chicago in part because there was higher turnout in all but two of Chicago’s 50 wards. Citywide turnout exceeded 57 percent — the highest in any midterm election since 1986, as well as 8 percentage points higher than in 2016.
3. More Democrats went to the polls in Chicago (especially in the 47th ward).
The bigger turnout translated to more Democratic votes, especially on the North Side. The highest in Chicago — 76.2 percent of registered voters going to the polls — was in the Lincoln Square-centric 47th Ward, where Pritzker’s margin was 10,000 votes higher than Quinn’s was in 2014. By comparison, turnout in the 2016 presidential race for all of Chicago was 71 percent.
4. Rauner slipped in Chicago wards where he previously did well.
Rauner failed to perform well this year in wards that he won or narrowly lost in 2014. Last time, Rauner won the downtown-centric 42nd Ward by 346 votes. This time, the fast-growing area flipped in favor of Pritzker by 10,000 votes.