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Voter turnout in Chicago area counties will be crucial to determining gubernatorial winner

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County voters can now head to the polls with early voting having begun countywide Wednesday.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, suburban Cook County and the collar counties are considered crucial battleground territories for candidates – maybe especially so when it comes to the gubernatorial race.

Many strategists believe state Sen. Darren Bailey, the Republican candidate, will clean up downstate. That puts the focus on voters in the six-county greater Chicago area, where the majority of Illinois residents live.

Chicago votes Democratic, while the collar counties usually swing Republican—that is the prevailing belief when it comes to Northern Illinois and race results.

But when it comes to the numbers needed to win a statewide race, experts say action matters.

“It’s all about who actually shows up to vote on Election Day,” said former Illinois Republican Party Chair Pat Brady.

Brady said turnout is the key factor, and expects it will remain so for this year’s gubernatorial race. Brady believes Bailey could have a shot at beating Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker if GOP voters turn out in drovers in suburban Cook County and the collar counties.

But Brady said a collar county win isn’t enough. He said Bailey would have to win by a lot.

“You’ve got to make up ground in suburban Cook and the collars,” Brady said. “You have to win by margins of 15 to 17 points.”

But Brady said stronger-than-expected Chicago support could help Bailey win, even if his collar county vote margins aren’t as wide.

“If you get yourself, as a Republican statewide candidate, 24.25 percent in Chicago – and pick up votes in suburban Cook and the collars – you can win,” Brady said.

Other strategists believe getting just 20 percent of Chicago’s vote could mean a Bailey victory.

In 2014, Republican Bruce Rauner got almost 21 percent of the city vote, and did even better in suburban Cook County—helping him beat then-Gov. Pat Quinn.

But Rauner also won every other Illinois county. And while Bailey is expected to clean up downstate, Brady believes it would not be enough to win.

Right now, only one spot in the pedway under the George W. Dunne Cook County Office Building is open for Cook County voters to vote early. Other sites are set to open Monday, Oct. 24

Dana Kozlov


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