Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Myth of the suburban women's vote

Blogging will be light or non-existent for the next week or so. In the meantime, a close look at the vote in the governor's race is intriguing if you look at the suburbs.

By far, the biggest difference between Rod Blagojevich's 2002 victory over Jim Ryan and his win this month over Judy Baar Topinka is in the collar counties. The conventional wisdom fed to us by the Illinois media is that a Republican statewide candidate will do much better in the suburbs if they are pro-choice and moderate.

Guess again.

Pro-life conservative candidate Jim Ryan did much better than Judy Baar Topinka in the collar counties of DuPage, Lake, Will, Kane and McHenry. Ryan won 58-39 percent and came away with a 147,338 vote plurality over Blago in the collars. Topinka barely won in the collars, 47-42-11 over Blagojevich and Whitney and only took away a 32,325 margin. The 115,000 difference in the collar county margins from 2002 to 2006 was by far the biggest geographical difference between the two elections.

2006 Pluralities

The anecdotal evidence is that the women's vote was pivotal in the suburbs. Exit polls and polls taken before the election showed a wide gender gap in Blagojevich's favor. That wasn't supposed to be the case according to the conventional wisdom because Topinka and Blagojevich were similar on many social issues. That conventional wisdom was further destroyed because Blagojevich didn't run TV ads on abortion against Topinka and did against Jim Ryan.

So what was the real reason suburban women turned on Judy? Probably because of the overall bombardment of a 5-1 advantage in TV ads. Rod's tainted money was able to buy a message of education and health care while simultaneously and falsely making Judy look like a crazy woman. The suburban results certainly show that voters are no longer knee-jerk Republican in the suburbs, but they also show that they aren't particularly ideological or tied to any party. They will sway according to the party and candidate that reaches them most often and most effectively.

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