The race for Obama's Senate seat looks like a Massachusetts-type perfect storm 

Since my earlier blogpost on the results of the February 2 Illinois primary, I’ve had the chance to crunch some more numbers, with help from the websites of the election boards of Chicago, suburban Cook County and the other 101 counties of Illinois.

Here are the results in tabular form, with the number of votes cast for senator in the Republican and Democratic primaries. I’ve listed separately the results in Chicago, suburban Cook County, the Collar Counties and Downstate. The Collar Counties are DuPage, Kane (including the city of Aurora), Kendall, Lake and Will; returns from McHenry were unavailable and are therefore included in the Downstate total. Returns include 99% of precincts.

Area                  Repub        Demo        total      % Repub

ILLINOIS           737,244      885,787  1,623,031    45

Chicago               32,001     326,961     358,962      9

Suburban Cook   120,744     223,616     344,360    42

Collar Counties    225,546     92,815     318,361    71

Downstate           358,953     242,935   601,888     60

By way of comparison, here are the totals for the 2008 presidential race for the same geographic units.

ILLINOIS          2,031,179   3,419,348  5,522,371   37

Chicago              149,255      930,866  1,089,879   14

Suburban Cook    338,481     698,158   1,047,587  32

Collar Counties     530,111     697,844  1,243,428  43

Downstate          1,013,332  1,092,480 2,141,477   47

Note that the Collar Counties cast more votes than Chicago in the general election but less than Chicago in the primary. This probably reflects heavy Chicago turnout in the Cook County board president race, in which the Democratic primary determines who will run the county government. We’re unlikely to see such a Chicago-heavy turnout in the general election. The Collar Counties and Downstate are likely to be a larger percentage of the general electorate than they were of the primary electorate—which should add about 2% to the Republican statewide percentage.

Holding Barack Obama’s Senate seat is starting to look like a Massachusetts-type perfect storm for Democrats. Mark Kirk with his suburban base, somewhat moderate voting record and military and foreign policy expertise, seems like an ideal candidate for Republicans, whose last successful Republican Senate candidate in Illinois, Charles Percy, had a similar profile. And as Chicagoan Tom Bevan notes on realclearpolitics.com, Democrats would have preferred the clean-cut former Inspector General David Hoffman as a nominee rather than the Rezko- and mob-connected Alexi Giannoulias; Hoffman’s rise in the polls just before the primary and his newspaper endorsements were, however, not quite enough to put him over the top. And check out this pungent column by the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass and this blogpost by the Chicago Sun-Times’s Lynn Sweet.

And as my Examiner colleague David Freddoso reports, a general election poll conducted for the Kirk campaign on February 1 and 2 shows Kirk leading Giannoulias 47%-35%--a much better showing than in earlier public polls, and one which perhaps reflects Hoffman’s anti-Giannoulias ads. That might be dismissed as a partisan poll, but a Rasmussen post-primary poll showing Kirk leading Giannoulias 46%-40% suggests it's in the ballpark.

Finally, check out this Kass column on the Democrats’ current plight: their lieutenant governor nominee was arrested in 2005 for assaulting his live-in girlfriend who was identified as a prostitute; he says he thought she was a massage therapist. “That explains everything,” Kass deadpans.

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