Tom Kacich: Turnout doomed Dems locally

Tom Kacich: Turnout doomed Dems locally

The big story of Tuesday's election was turnout — the lack of it.

In Illinois it appears that about 430,000 fewer votes were cast this year than in 2008. The actual number won't be known until all ballots are counted and the results are certified by the State Board of Elections, but clearly there was at least a 5 percent drop in voting.

Every Illinois county so far is reporting a decline in ballots cast except for Schuyler County in western Illinois.

Turnout in Champaign County was down significantly from four years ago: from 84,804 in that record 2008 vote to (unofficially) 78,215 on Tuesday.

And the decline was strictly among Democrats. While Mitt Romney got 1,215 more votes in Champaign County than John McCain did four years ago, President Obama's numbers in Champaign County plunged from 48,597 to 40,378.

The situation was the same in other large counties in central Illinois. In McLean County, Romney got 2,871 more votes than McCain did, while Obama's total dropped more than 6,000 votes. In Macon County, Romney's total was 301 greater than McCain's, but Obama's dropped by about 2,800.

In Champaign County, Obama's weaker coattails had an effect on local races.

Four years ago, Democrat Tony Fabri was elected county auditor with 38,716 votes, mainly because of the gigantic turnout of Democratic voters. The Republican candidate this year, John Farney, got virtually the same number of votes that Republican contender Brad Jones got four years ago. But this year's Democratic candidate, George Danos, got 4,468 fewer votes than Fabri did four years ago, most likely because about 8,000 fewer Democratic-leaning voters were at the polls.

The lower Democratic turnout was an even bigger factor in the race for circuit court clerk, where Democrat Barbara Wysocki lost by 1,459 votes to Republican Katie Blakeman.

Overall, the county recorded a 6,589-vote drop from 2004, including a 2,164-vote decline in eight key University of Illinois student precincts.

Obama was still the overwhelming winner in the student precincts (with about 77 percent), but that was down from 83 percent four years ago.

In Champaign-Urbana, Obama got 67 percent of the vote, taking 74 percent in Urbana and 64 percent in Champaign. He lost just one of the 62 C-U precincts, City of Champaign 38, which votes at the Windsor Road Christian Church in Champaign. And he lost that precinct by10 votes, 553-543.

African-American vote

Champaign-Urbana's three predominantly African-American precincts gave Obama another big margin Tuesday: 93 percent of the vote. There again, turnout was down from 2008 by about 400 votes — 2,303 in 2008 to 1,913 on Tuesday.

Jenky's political muscle

It's impossible to say for sure if the letter from Bishop Daniel Jenky, read last weekend at all Catholic churches in the Peoria Diocese, had an effect on voting Tuesday. But there are indications it did.

Jenky's letter was a not-unsubtle suggestion that Catholics not support Obama. The president still outpolled Romney in 10 of the 26 counties in the diocese, including Champaign County, but Obama's percentages were down in every county.

The strongest indicator of Jenky's political clout might be in two particular outposts. LaSalle County is 39 percent Catholic, and there Obama's share of the vote dropped from 55 percent in 2008 to 48.4 percent in 2012. His vote total fell off by more than 4,000 votes in LaSalle County.

And in the traditionally strong Irish Catholic precinct in Champaign County known as Sadorus-Ivesdale, Obama's share of the vote dropped from 54.4 percent four years ago to 39.9 percent Tuesday. It was the first time since 1980 that Sadorus-Ivesdale supported a Republican for president (Ronald Reagan by six votes over Jimmy Carter). Even in Richard Nixon's landslide win over George McGovern in 1972, the precinct voted Democratic.

Presidential election, by Illinois county

Only one Illinois county — Alexander, in deep southern Illinois — went more Democratic in Tuesday's voting than in 2008, and that was a minuscule gain from 56 percent top 56.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of downstate counties that favored Obama dipped significantly from 2008. In East Central Illinois, four counties that went Democratic flipped back to the GOP on Tuesday: Vermilion, Coles, Macon and McLean. Champaign stayed Democratic, but Obama's percentage dropped from 58 to 52.

The only other Illinois counties south of Interstate 80 that stayed blue Tuesday were St. Clair, Jackson, Peoria, Rock Island, Fulton, Putnam, Knox, Warren, Henderson, Henry and Mercer.

Early voting

It appears that close to 25 percent of the general election voters in Champaign County voted before Election Day. County Clerk Gordy Hulten said the county had received 19,457 absentee or early voters as of last Monday. They were among the 78,215 ballots counted on Tuesday, equalling 24.8 percent.

Champaign County's biggest vote-getter was ...

Republican Recorder of Deeds Barbara Frasca. Of all the candidates running countywide and in a contested race, Frasca got 40,675. She even outpolled Obama.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays, He can be reached at 351-5221 or at

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rsp wrote on November 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Even before polling started all of the pundits were saying that Illinois was going to Obama, so I kept wondering if that was going to encourage people to stay home. If the thinking was he's going to win the state anyway, why not. Romney people wouldn't have thought that way. With that in mind I've wondered if the numbers are down for either of them in any state they were expected to win.

Political Observer wrote on November 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm

     Keep in mind that this article is another of Tom Kacich’s deeply deceptive and distorted Republican Gloat-athons, where he spins the election results into a self-congratulatory pat on the back for the News-Gazette’s targeted base of right-wing readers.  When he writes about the smaller victory margin for the President in this election, as compared with the margin of victory in his landslide win 4 years ago, it may be useful to keep the following perspective in mind:



Despite the perceived closeness of this particular race, Obama's 3.14% margin of victory, if it should wind up as such [when the counting is finally done, and the final count is certified], would surpass the margin obtained by George Bush in both 2004 and 2000 (when he lost the popular vote to Al Gore), Jimmy Carter's from 1976, Richard Nixon's from 1968, and John Kennedy's from 1960.

Obama is the first President since Ronald Reagan in 1984 to win a majority of the popular vote in consecutive elections and only the third Presidential candidate to do so since Franklin Roosevelt. Since 1824, the year when official popular vote totals were tabulated for the first time, only seven Presidents have won a majority in consecutive elections; Obama, Reagan, Eisenhower, FDR, McKinley, Grant, and Jackson.


     Heh-heh-heh! Now there’s some news the Tea Party Gazette doesn’t want you to hear, right?

     And, further, notice how Kacich completely neglected to mention the extensive Voter Suppression Campaign carried out by Sgt. Gordy Hulten in his official capacity as the Republican-appointed Election Authority of Champaign County.  Or perhaps when he wrote, “And the decline [in voter turn-out in Champaign County] was strictly among Democrats,” he was really saying, “And, hey, how about a great big hand for Sgt. Gordy Hulten for the massive success of his Voter Suppression Campaign right here in Champaign County!”?



pattsi wrote on November 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

As to the claim of voter suppression, it is time to see some hard data. Kacich could do some research as could C-U Citizen Access. Let us find out exactly was happened and then deal with it. For years accusations have filled the air, story telling, confusion abounds; yet, where is the data. This is not written to argue one side or the other because one can not do so without data.

pattsi wrote on November 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

As to the claim of voter suppression, it is time to see some hard data. Kacich could do some research as could C-U Citizen Access. Let us find out exactly was happened and then deal with it. For years accusations have filled the air, story telling, confusion abounds; yet, where is the data. This is not written to argue one side or the other because one can not do so without data.

Political Observer wrote on December 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm

The Champaign County Board allocates funds to the County Clerk's Office so that the County Clerk can act as the Election Authority.  Hence, if a highly-partisan, longtime dirty-trickster in the County Clerk's office is using County funds to suppress Democratic votes so that his Republican henchmen can win, this would seem to be something that the County Board should look into.  Perhaps we should all urge our County Board representatives to stop averting their eyes and take a look at the wide range of dirty tricks that Sgt. Hulten has used to poison our elections.  Someone really needs to ask him how long he thinks he can continue to get away with his rather transparent ploys.

A good place to start would be with the illegal caging letter that Sgt. Hulten mailed out to D'Anne Winston the day after she filed her nominating petitions to run as the Democratic candidate for Champaign County Recorder of Deeds:

MSJ66 wrote on November 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Time for taxing church income and doing away with whatever tax advantages they enjoy. Perfect example listed here where they are not non political institutions. Speak of love, tolerance,  acceptance and forgiveness as long as you believe and think the way we think you should. Flip flopping hypocrites no wonder they were encouraging people to vote for Romney one in the same.

wayward wrote on November 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm

The Springfield bishop (Paprocki) was even worse -- he told people in that diocese that their souls could in jeopardy if they voted Democratic.  Maybe it is time to take another look at their tax-exempt status.  If that kind of behavior is tolerated, what's to stop a campaign from establishing a "church" for the purpose of electioneering?

rsp wrote on November 12, 2012 at 1:11 am

If a witness to the statement makes a complaint they could lose their tax-exempt status. Usually nothing happens because nobody complains. 

wayward wrote on November 12, 2012 at 7:11 am

Oh, it generated a fair amount of news coverage, and may have gotten mentioned to the IRS:

Jam wrote on November 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Silliness is the word to think about when discussing political activity of churches.  The Black or African American churches  have been doing political endorsements of candidates for years even having them speak in the pulpits.  This is kept quiet in the liberal (pravda) press.

rsp wrote on November 12, 2012 at 1:11 am

It isn't kept quiet in any way. Just because white people aren't usually interested in what goes on in the African American community doesn't mean it's not advertised. Just like candidates who go see Billy Graham to get his "blessing" like Romney did, or the so called "shopping for a church home", so you can visit a new church each sunday and let everyone see what a good christian you are.

No they don't sell tickets or take out an ad saying there is going to be an appearance by someone. They are going to church. Any church can have a guest speaker if they want to. They don't stand there and say "If I'm elected..." They talk about the Bible. They talk about God. Maybe you should attend one of the churches in my neighborhood. You would have fun. 


ROB McCOLLEY wrote on November 12, 2012 at 2:11 am
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Great to see the Vatican flexing its muscles here. Enough with this secular democracy nonsense. Obama is even wronger than Galileo: The world revolves around The Son (and the four to six other members of the trinity). 


Where's the Inquisition when you need it? I hate electricity. Grr.

EL YATIRI wrote on November 12, 2012 at 3:11 am
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In my opinion all churches ought to contribute revenue.  They are in fact businesses selling a product and services.

B-Evs wrote on November 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

Jenky's letter was a not-unsubtle suggestion that Catholics not support Obama.

This is inaccurate.  It is a an unsubtle threat and statement that the _bishops_ don't support Obama.  The bishops need to learn that they do not control those with free will, even if they threaten your soul with Hell.  Amazing how to Jenky, Obama is horrible and yet the Ryan budget which would hurt the poor and in need was completely okay.

fflkommish wrote on November 12, 2012 at 10:11 am

Both the auditor and clerk's race were closer than the amount of undervotes.  I think Dems could have won both of these offices had Obama voters gone all the way thru the ballot.  Over 5,600 people chose not to vote in both of these races, well over the margin of victory.

mankind wrote on November 12, 2012 at 11:11 am

Election day needs to be a holiday or a half-holiday. We spend years talking about it and talking about how important it is to make yourself heard, but when the big day arrives we're expected to squeeze it in along with everything else as if it's merely lunch time entertainment.

fflkommish wrote on November 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

we have absentee voting, early voting, and 12 or 13 hours of open polls on election day - anyone who didn't vote really didn't want to vote that bad in the first place.

mankind wrote on November 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Yeah, I hear that whenever I bring this up but I'm still not convinced. It seems like this year they did a lot better at promoting those options, but the vast majority of people still wait until election day. And 12-13 hours of open polls really isn't that great considering that if you work a full day you either have to get up early, basically skip lunch, or squeeze it in during the dinner hours. Maybe early and absentee voting will increase in popularity, but making election day a holiday once every four years isn't going to hurt anybody, is it?

fflkommish wrote on November 13, 2012 at 10:11 am

will it hurt anybody?   Well, either employers who have to pay wages for no work, or employees who won't get paid for not working - because those are the only 2 options when people don't go to work.

vcponsardin wrote on November 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

"TURNOUT DOOMED DEMS LOCALLY" -- So in other words, the representatives that were elected last Tuesday do not actually represent the interests of the majority of people in central Illinois.  They merely represent the interests of those who showed up to vote.  Interesting.  I agree.  Central Illinois is actually more liberal than our elected representatives might suggest (or that they might believe...).

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on November 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm
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I think the Republicans won countywide races because they presented more attractive candidates.  George Danos seemed like the only Democrat especially qualified for his office and not simply a retiree looking for something to do.

Sid Saltfork wrote on November 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm

As a union member even though retired, I found it interesting that my union endorsed all of the republican candidates for county office.  Granted that they were the only republican candidates endorsed on the ballot.  I mention this because the assumption by many republicans is that the unions only endorse democrat candidates.  It should be noted that like Catholics not all union members vote for the candidates that their leadership endorses.  Most vote for the candidates that represent their interests rather than on religion, or union affiliation.

By the way, not all retirees run for office simply looking for something to do.  One may retire from a profession, and seek employment in another.  Retirement does not mean that one is geriatric.  Hopefully, you will have the opportunity to learn that over time.  

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on November 13, 2012 at 12:11 am
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John Farney is a union chief and works in Gordy Hulten's office. That alone explains a lot.

Sid Saltfork wrote on November 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Like I said, not all union members vote for the union's endorsed candidates.  If you voted for him, that is okay.  If you voted against him, that is okay.  If you did not vote, you are not entitled to an opinion.  The Democrats did well elsewhere.  There were losses locally; but that is to be expected in downstate areas.  Heck, I voted for the Republican sheriff in two of the three elections he ran in. :)