2020 Election Targets

The 2018 General Election resulted in a significant shift to the Illinois State Legislature, with Democrats picking up three seats in the Senate and a net of seven seats in the House. Many of these seats will again be competitive in the 2020 election cycle, and several deserve extra scrutiny.

Voters' Party Preference as an Indicator of Who Wins

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Which Districts to Watch in 2019-2020

There was an arguable over-performance by the Democratic legislative candidates who won in Senate Districts 21 and 24, and House Districts 45, 51, and 76 when comparing the districts' voter preference for Governor and Attorney General. Based on a similar comparison, the Democratic legislative candidates who lost in Senate District 36 and House District 97 arguably under-performed. The potential vulnerability seen with these districts' recent voter preference highlights the offices as targets in the upcoming legislative session.

The Democratic legislative candidates who won in House Districts 48, 49, 53, and 61 performed consistent with the districts' "blue wave" voter preference for Governor and Attorney General; this may include the Democratic candidate who won in House District 81 but arguably under-performed. Either way, "wave" win candidates are also worth watching in anticipation of subsequent election cycles.

Click here for the numbers behind the analysis, with tabs for each category below.

Senate Districts 21, 24, and 27 switched to Democrats, but the same voters still chose the Republican candidate for Governor in each district and the Republican candidate for Attorney General in Senate Districts 21 and 24.
Senate Districts 21, 24, and 27 switched to Democrats, but the same voters still chose the Republican candidate for Governor in each district and the Republican candidate for Attorney General in Senate Districts 21 and 24. Senate District 21 (Michael Connelly-R vs. Laura Ellman-D); Senate District 24 (Chris Nybo-R vs. Suzy Glowiak-D); Senate District 27 (Tom Rooney-R vs. Ann Gillespie-D)
House Districts 45, 51, and 76 switched to Democrats but the same voters still chose the Republican candidate for Attorney General in each and the Republican candidate for Governor in House Districts 45 and 51.
House Districts 45, 51, and 76 switched to Democrats but the same voters still chose the Republican candidate for Attorney General in each and the Republican candidate for Governor in House Districts 45 and 51. House District 45 (Christine Winger-R vs. Diane Pappas-D); House District 51 (Helene Miller Walsh-R vs. Mary Edly-Allen-D); House District 76 (Jerry Long-R vs. Lance Yednock-D)
House Districts 48, 49, 53, and 61 switched to Democrats and either performed similar or slightly better when compared to the same voters' preference for the Democratic candidates for Governor and Attorney General.
House Districts 48, 49, 53, and 61 switched to Democrats and either performed similar or slightly better when compared to the same voters' preference for the Democratic candidates for Governor and Attorney General. House District 48 (Peter Breen-R vs. Terra Costa Howard-D); House District 49 (Tonia Khouri-R vs. Karina Villa-D); House District 53 (Eddie Corrigan-R vs. Mark Walker-D); House District 61 (Sheri Jesiel-R vs. Joyce Mason-D)
Senate District 36 and House District 97 remained with Republicans even though the same voters preferred the Democratic candidates for both Governor and Attorney General; House District 81 switched to Democrats but the same voters preferred the Democratic candidates for both Governor and Attorney General more.
Senate District 36 and House District 97 remained with Republicans even though the same voters preferred the Democratic candidates for both Governor and Attorney General; House District 81 switched to Democrats but the same voters preferred the Democratic candidates for both Governor and Attorney General more. Senate District 36 (Neil Anderson-R vs. Gregg Johnson-D); House District 81 (David Olsen-R vs. Anne Stava-Murray-D); House District 97 (Mark Batinick-R vs. Mica Carnahan-Freeman-D)
House District 118 switched to Republicans with indications that it will remain in Republican hands based on the same voters' preference for both Republican candidates for Governor and Attorney General.
House District 118 (Natalie Phelps Finnie-D vs. Patrick Windhorst-R) switched to Republicans with indications that it will remain in Republican hands based on the same voters' preference for both Republican candidates for Governor and Attorney General.

Campaign Spending as an Indicator of Who Wins

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Where Opportunity was Missed

At the end of the 2018 election, over $900,000 was left in the eleven individual campaign coffers of Republican candidates who lost a race that resulted in the legislative office switching to Democratic control. Five of those candidates had over $100,000 each in "cash on hand" left: Senate Districts 21 (Connelly - $199,626.85) and 24 (Nybo - $208,192.63), and House Districts 45 (Winger - $108,333.64), 48 (Breen - $117,754.29), and 81 (Olsen - $101,407.93), with an honorable mention to House District 51 (Walsh - $72,382.33).

Based on the money flowing throughout the state Democratic party in the election cycle, it is not surprising that nearly all Democratic candidates in targeted races significantly outspent their Republican opponent; however, it should be noted that where Democratic spending in the final month of the election was at or below the Republican candidate, the Democratic candidate arguably underperformed when compared to how voters in that district preferred the Democratic candidate for Governor and Attorney General.

Click here for the numbers behind the analysis, with tabs for each category below.

Over $1 million was spent by Democrats in the final month of the 2018 election for each Democratic candidate in Senate District 21, 24, 27.
Over $1 million was spent by Democrats in the final month of the election for each Democratic candidate in Senate District 21, 24, 27. For background, voters in Senate Districts 21 and 24 preferred the Republican candidates for Governor and Attorney General, but chose the Democratic candidate for Senate; whereas voters in Senate District 27 favored the Republican candidate for Governor slightly but chose the Democratic candidate for Attorney General and Senate by a comfortable margin. Senate District 21 (Michael Connelly-R vs. Laura Ellman-D); Senate District 24 (Chris Nybo-R vs. Suzy Glowiak-D); Senate District 27 (Tom Rooney-R vs. Ann Gillespie-D)
While the Republican candidate in Senate District 27 did not leave much left by the end of the 2018 campaign, the Republican candidates in both Senate Districts 21 and 24 each had at or more than $200,000 that could have been spent on the campaign.
While the Republican candidate in Senate District 27 did not leave much left by the end of the campaign, the Republican candidates in both Senate Districts 21 and 24 each had at or more than $200,000 that could have been spent on the campaign. Of note, if the Republican candidate in Senate District 21 used that remaining money in the final month, the total spending in the final month would have matched their Democratic opponent. Senate District 21 (Michael Connelly-R vs. Laura Ellman-D); Senate District 24 (Chris Nybo-R vs. Suzy Glowiak-D); Senate District 27 (Tom Rooney-R vs. Ann Gillespie-D)
Democrats spent over three times as much as Republicans on their Democratic candidates for House Districts 45, 51, and 76 in the final month of the 2018 election.
Democrats spent over three times as much as Republicans on their Democratic candidates for House Districts 45, 51, and 76 in the final month of the election. For background, in both House Districts 45 and 51, voter preference for Governor and Attorney General leaned comfortably Republican, but the voters chose the Democratic candidate for the House legislative office; whereas, in House District 76 voters fairly comfortably chose the Republican candidate for Attorney General, only slightly favored the Democratic candidate for Governor, but then significantly favored the Democratic candidate for the House legislative seat. House District 45 (Christine Winger-R vs. Diane Pappas-D); House District 51 (Helene Miller Walsh-R vs. Mary Edly-Allen-D); House District 76 (Jerry Long-R vs. Lance Yednock-D)
The Republican candidates in House Districts 45, 51, and 76 each had more left in their individual campaign coffers than their Democratic opponent at the end of the 2018 election; however, even if they depleted their account in the final month, they still would not have come close to matching the final month spending of their Democratic opponent.
The Republican candidates in House Districts 45, 51, and 76 each had more left in their individual campaign coffers than their Democratic opponent at the end of the election; however, even if they depleted their account in the final month, they still would not have come close to matching the final month spending of their Democratic opponent. Of note, House Districts 45 and 51 had a Chicagoland television buy of over $750,000 in the final week of the campaign. House District 45 (Christine Winger-R vs. Diane Pappas-D); House District 51 (Helene Miller Walsh-R vs. Mary Edly-Allen-D); House District 76 (Jerry Long-R vs. Lance Yednock-D)
House Districts 48, 49, 53, and 61 each followed the trend of Democrats outspending Republicans in the final month of the 2018 campaign (and overall); in particular, House Districts 48, 49, 53 had a Chicagoland television buy of over $750,000 in the final week of the campaign, without which, the Republicans actually would have outspent the Democrats for each of those races in the final month.
House Districts 48, 49, 53, and 61 each followed the trend of Democrats outspending Republicans in the final month of the campaign (and overall); in particular, House Districts 48, 49, 53 had a Chicagoland television buy of over $750,000 in the final week of the campaign, without which, the Republicans actually would have outspent the Democrats for each of those races in the final month. Either way, voter preference in House Districts 48, 49, 53, and 61 were for Democratic candidates when also reviewing voter preference for Governor and Attorney General. House District 48 (Peter Breen-R vs. Terra Costa Howard-D); House District 49 (Tonia Khouri-R vs. Karina Villa-D); House District 53 (Eddie Corrigan-R vs. Mark Walker-D); House District 61 (Sheri Jesiel-R vs. Joyce Mason-D)
The amount of cash left in House District 48, 49, 53, and 61 varied at the end of the 2018 election, but no amount of additional Republican spending from their political action committees would have matched Democratic spending in the final month of the campaign.
The amount of cash left in House District 48, 49, 53, and 61 varied at the end of the election, but no amount of additional Republican spending from their political action committees would have matched Democratic spending in the final month of the campaign. House District 48 (Peter Breen-R vs. Terra Costa Howard-D); House District 49 (Tonia Khouri-R vs. Karina Villa-D); House District 53 (Eddie Corrigan-R vs. Mark Walker-D); House District 61 (Sheri Jesiel-R vs. Joyce Mason-D)
Democratic spending on Senate District 36, and House Districts 81 and 97 in the final month of the 2018 election was at or below Republican spending.
Democratic spending on Senate District 36, and House Districts 81 and 97 in the final month of the election was at or below Republican spending, and in each, the Democratic candidate arguably underperformed when compared to how voters in that district preferred the Democratic candidate for Governor and Attorney General; although, the Democratic candidate in House District 81 did still win. Senate District 36 (Neil Anderson-R vs. Gregg Johnson-D); House District 81 (David Olsen-R vs. Anne Stava-Murray-D); House District 97 (Mark Batinick-R vs. Mica Carnahan-Freeman-D)
Republican candidates in Senate District 36 and House District 97 had more money to spend than their Democratic opponent at the end of the 2018 election, but they still won; however, the Republican candidate in House District 81, who lost, had over $100,000 left to spend at the end of the election.
Republican candidates in Senate District 36 and House District 97 had more money to spend than their Democratic opponent at the end of the election, but they still won; however, the Republican candidate in House District 81, who lost, had over $100,000 left to spend at the end of the election. Of note, the Republican candidate who lost in House District 81 with over $100,000 left in his political action committee is running for the Mayor of Downers Grove in the April 2, 2019 Consolidated Election. Senate District 36 (Neil Anderson-R vs. Gregg Johnson-D); House District 81 (David Olsen-R vs. Anne Stava-Murray-D); House District 97 (Mark Batinick-R vs. Mica Carnahan-Freeman-D)
To try and keep control of House District 118, Democrats spent nearly $900,000 on their candidate in the final month of the 2018 election, which was nearly as much as had been spent on the Democratic candidate up to that point.
To try and keep control of House District 118 (Natalie Phelps Finnie-D vs. Patrick Windhorst-R), Democrats spent nearly $900,000 on their candidate in the final month of the election, which was nearly as much as had been spent on the Democratic candidate up to that point. Either way, voters in House District 118 significantly preferred Republican candidates for Governor and Attorney General, and voted similarly for that legislative office.
Although the 2018 Democratic candidate in House District 118 had more money left in her political action committee than her Republican opponent, the approximately $37,000 remaining in her account was 4% of what was spent in the final month of the campaign and just 2% of spending by Democrats over the general election cycle for that seat. Voter preference strongly favored the Republican candidates in that district.
Although the Democratic candidate in House District 118 (Natalie Phelps Finnie-D vs. Patrick Windhorst-R) had more money left in her political action committee than her Republican opponent, the approximately $37,000 remaining in her account was 4% of what was spent in the final month of the campaign and just 2% of spending by Democrats over the general election cycle for that seat. Voter preference strongly favored the Republican candidates in that district.

Judicial Branch Elections

2020 will also see interesting elections for the Illinois Supreme Court, with at least one retirement and two seats in districts where voters arguably preferred the opposite party of the incumbent justice in recent elections...

Beyond Illinois Supreme Court races that involve a contest between Republicans and Democrats, the First District seat located in Cook County involves an interesting intra-party contest among Democrats...