Of all of the presidential primaries, Illinois reigns supreme for Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The latter fresh from his unpredicted win in Michigan – albeit narrow – needs another victory to propel him forward in the eye of the electorate. As for Clinton, she needs the psychological win of her home state, and to shore up her base, as she presses on as the frontrunner in the delegate count.
In an historic episode, this midwestern state has also led in an increase of early voting; for Chicago alone, the increase was tallied at 140,000 votes on Monday, the last day to do so. This was an increase of 60,000, significantly more than the 2008 presidential primary.
Accompanying that milestone were more than 1.4 million suburbanites registered to vote. Voter registration has also increased due to the chance to register and vote on the same day, but only in their home precinct on Tuesday. And, an added bonus is that teen voters who turn 18 by November, can also vote in the primary, thus swelling the voting potential even greater.
Both sides of the political aisle have one thing in common on election days: concern about the weather, for voter turnout; and in this case, that concern was lessened by an early rainfall that failed to materialize, and most of Tuesday was sunny, and clear in Chicago, and by its standards, relatively warm, with temperatures in the upper 50s. Polls closed at 7:00 p.m. Central Time, with some suburban polls closing at 8:00 p.m. due to delays due to building access issues, or absent poll workers.
The real focus for both sides of the political aisle is on the delegate count. And, nowhere is this more focused on than with Sanders and Clinton. Some polls show them in a virtual tie in this bluest of blue states. There are 2,950 delegates available, and Clinton has 1,235, by recent count, and Sanders has 580. She also has 768 pledged delegates to Sanders count of 554. Adding superdelegates to the mix, Clinton has 467 and Sanders has 26. To note: pledged delegates are based on state primary results, but superdelegates can support any candidate. 2,383 delegates are needed to secure the nomination.
While the Dems are looking at 182 electoral votes, 102 will be awarded on a proportional vote, based on wins in congregational districts.
Clinton has also seen some polls showing her winning with a 42 point margin, but remembering her loss to Sanders in Michigan, most observers are cautiously looking at this figure.
A potential win for Sanders is probably based on the formula he used in Michigan, stating that his rejection of trade agreements such as NAFTA and TPP are bad for the American worker, and pushing for higher tariffs to gain the votes of the white working class, since he has not synced with black, or even Hispanic voters as Clinton has.
This argument fails according to some, such as New York Times columnist, Adam Davidson, who feels that this is a false dichotomy, and said in an NPR interview, “Very few economists would say that trade has been the primary cause of our troubles or that there’s some option that government has had throughout to reject trade and therefore make life better for the rest of us. There is not free international trade.”
“The higher cost of a tariff does not directly go to wages. It does not directly go to increasing employment. It simply goes to basically failed businesspeople – businesspeople who have not been able to compete in the economy,” continued Davidson.
For Chicago, the state’s largest city, the primary is also a chance for voters to vote against, or retain, the controversial State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez, whose delay in the conviction of policeman Jason Van Dyke, and the release of the video of his shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald, angered many. He was shot 16 times in succession, and the resulting anger has laid bare long simmering racial tensions. Alvarez amidst the rancor may feel some solace in the support of longtime alderman, Ed Burke, and that there was a substantial bump in early voting in Hispanic wards.
Returning to the presidential candidates, the Tribune reported Clinton addressing union workers saying: “Do not rest,” Clinton told the crowd. “If there is an L stop you can go to, if there is a phone call you can make, if there is a door you can knock on, if there is a person you can convince, please do everything you can in the next 24-plus hours so we can come out of these elections with a wind at our backs so we can start talking about unifying the Democratic party and unifying our country.”