Quick Hits – A step by step guide on how to lose an election

Quick Hits – A step by step guide on how to lose an election

But before we get started, this sudden trend of some of y’all being funnier than me has got to come to a screeching halt! One reader hilariously referred to me as “Dr. Phil” in an email, while commentor Jim took me to task for going over-the-top in yesterday’s west-side Geneva power outage piece.

In my defense, Geneva interrupted a wind-blowing-straight-out-to-centerfield Cubs game which, as another friend stipulated, should be a capital offense!

Jim also referred to me as “Debbie Downer,” which clearly isn’t the case. And to prove that very point, I’m going to tackle 14th District Congressional District Democratic nominee, Lauren Underwood’s, inexplicably errant campaign in purely logical terms.

Take that Jim!

Lauren Underwood

So, without further ado, let’s examine the specific steps any collar county Democratic challenger might employ to lose a race:

1. Ignore district demographics.

Though it’s not nearly as gerrymandered as some, the 14th was clearly mapped as a Republican stronghold. Sure! Eleventh District Congressman Bill Foster briefly held that seat, but that was because the electorate actually caught on to former Speaker Denny Hastert pulling a fast one and Foster has an exceptional statistical acumen.

But that victory was short-lived. When Foster ran for re-election in 2010, he was crushed by incumbent Randy Hultgren due to an incompetent staff and far too liberal messaging.

To wit, the 14th lines up like this:

  • 86 percent Caucasian
  • 12 percent Hispanic
  • 3.5 percent black
  • 50.2 percent male
  • 39 average age
  • 57 average mid-term voter age
  • 60 percent Republican

Did you note that first stat? The 14th is about as white as an urban Illinois district can get. So, in order for any Democratic candidate to prevail – and especially a black female candidate – they have to reasonably appeal to older white men. And to do that, the candidate has to come across as a moderate or blue dog Democrat.

For a classic example of how that strategy works, look no further than Illinois 23rd District State Senator Tom Cullerton, who consistently wins in ridiculously red DuPage County. But as savvy as Tom is, his margins of victory have been incredibly slim:

  • 2016 – 1,200 votes – 1.4 percent
  • 2012 – 1,900 votes – 2.4 percent

And Tom defines the term “community involvement.” Meanwhile, Underwood’s message is even more progressive than Foster’s was.


2.  Preach to the choir 

Considering how often I’ve repeated this axiom, the fact that virtually none of those collar county Democrats understand it utterly baffles me. I suppose it’s something along the line of Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman’s favorite question, “Do you want me to tell you want you want to hear or do you want me to tell you the truth?”

The “blue wave” may be dead, but sure as I’m sitting here, Democrats are going to vote for Democrats come November. That doesn’t mean Underwood’s team should completely ignore them, but since counting on the electorate doing something they’ve never done before is the shortest road to defeat, 85 percent of her effort should be focused on leaning Republican mid-term voters.

Preaching to the choir

And the Dem’s Votebuilder database does a very good job of identifying Republican voters who, on occasion, will pull a Democratic primary ballot. But Underwood has been pulling out all of the progressive stops instead.

I’m betting, given the current liberal lunacy, her campaign staff is terrified of her not appearing to be progressive enough, and that’s a huge mistake. The always astute Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth just warned Democrats not to “go too far to the left.”

Even if Underwood ticks them off the liberal rabble a bit, they’re not going to pull the trigger for the likes of incumbent Randy Hultgren on their worst day – and they’re not going to stay home this round either.

When you have limited funds, limited time, limited volunteers and 340,000 voters to reach, you have to get the biggest bang for you campaign buck. If that means taking Democratic voters somewhat for granted, then that’s exactly what you have to do.

Were I Ms. Underwood’s campaign manager, all the door knocking, all the mailers, and any other direct voter contact effort would go directly to those leaning Republican voters, who’ve proved they’ll vote for a Democrat. And I’d craft the kind of a moderate message that would appeal to those swing voters, too!


Stay tuned, we will continue with part two of this series next time!

11 thoughts on “Quick Hits – A step by step guide on how to lose an election

  1. This is lazy of means I could probably find this myself but maybe you know off the top of your head: how many total votes in the democrat contested primary and how many total votes for Hultgren who I think was uncontested? Also way back when, when you could vote a straight ticket was always interesting to see difference between parties do they have any way to measure that now?
    Sorry about getting spelling of your first name wrong I am a really really bad speller I looked up name and that is what I found. Notice I did not try and spell name again

    1. Jim,

      It is a bit lazy, but I do have a lot of this stuff at my fingertips. In a seven-way Democratic 14th primary race, 51,251 voters participated.

      But because Hultgren was unopposed no one’s show his total primary vote and going to every county and adding them up will cut into my Cub watching right now.

      And you can avoid the name issue by simply using Jeff!


    2. Jim,

      Damn you! You got me so curious I went to Lake, McHenry, Kane, DeKalb, Kendall, Dupage and Will Counties to get Hultgren’s 36,813 primary vote total.

      But we both know it’s virtually meaningless by virtue of him being unopposed.

      And now I’m late getting today’s Quick Hit’s up thank you very much!


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