With Illinois primary season firmly in the rearview mirror, it’s time for the losing candidates to reconsider their political futures and for the winners to get ready for the real work!
I’m not saying it’s easy to make it through a contested primary, because it’s not! In those still demonstrably Republican Chicago collar counties, that GOP primary often turned out to be the “real race,” but that’s not nearly a sure thing anymore.
As Cook County Democrats migrate west, Hispanic voters start to make their mark, and an anti-Trump blue wave building, it’s going to be a very interesting mid-term election. The best evidence of this is, for the first time in Kane County, Illinois, the Democratic Sheriff nominee got more primary votes than the Republican incumbent.
Despite a somewhat sedate Democratic gubernatorial primary and a very contentious Rauner-Ives race, of the 60,000 Kane County sheriff primary voters, 53 percent of them were Democrats!
Any Republican nominee foolish enough to ignore that trend is going to have a very long and disappointing election night.
So, now that you’ve made it through the primary, let’s review the three data analysis possibilities:
1. Both you and your general election opponent were unopposed
The good news is, aside from deploying a few signs, your campaign coffers are intact. The bad news is, you don’t have a statistical basis to determine if your message and campaign strategy will resonate with district voters.
But you can get an idea of what might work going forward from the other primary contests.
The temptation is to go straight to the governor’s race for data, but that may not be the best idea. Gubernatorial races involve far more money, they can get very nasty, and a governor is a far more abstract concept than a tangible local candidate is.
Instead of governor data, go with the top of the ticket local election – most likely a countywide contest – to get a better idea of where you and your opponent stand with the voters.
2. You had a primary opponent and your general election opponent did not
As we’ve already discussed, this dynamic was de rigueur in the Chicago Collar Counties until very recently. Candidates could count a field of two to four Republicans with a lone Democratic contender who didn’t have much of a shot.
For the candidate who had to run a primary campaign, that data is a goldmine. You can clearly see where you were strong, not so strong, and what district trends are likely, or unlikely to, play out.
The candidate who sat it out may have more campaign cash but trying to catch up with the name recognition a contested primary provides may prove to be a difficult and expensive task for a non-incumbent.
Of course, your unchallenged opponent can also make hay with that primary data, but as any NFL defensive coordinator will tell you, it’s easier to make something happen than it is to prevent it from happening.
3. You both had primary opponents
This is where the election data rubber hits the road, because nothing is left to the imagination! A savvy campaign team will carefully look at:
- Early voting trends
- Precinct-by-precinct voting results
- Precinct-by-precinct turnout
- The undervote
- Who didn’t vote
Combine that primary analysis with the appropriate past election results and a good campaign manager should be able to come up with a statistical path to a general election victory – right down to how many votes you’ll need in each precinct.
That’s my favorite part of managing campaigns! Despite what the great Mark Twain said about statistics, numbers never lie!
If you’re facing a tough general election opponent, have a conversation with the professionals at Forward Communication. We perform the kind of statistical analysis that wins elections! Contact Us