At long last tomorrow is the election! This weekend Eric Zorn had an interesting column asking four veteran political analysis about their take on our state elections. Story from the Chicago Tribune below.

If you haven’t voted, you can still vote today and tomorrow. Here is a link to The Arc of Illinois Election Toolkit.

Experts see state headed for a post-election hangover
Many of us are worried about America’s 11/9 problem: What will the social and political landscape look like starting Nov. 9, the day after the nastiest, most divisive presidential race in modern history?

What, if anything, will soothe the outraged and even frightened supporters of the loser? Will the winner be able to find enough common ground to allow lawmakers to act on some of our most pressing issues?

Good questions.

But Illinois is likely also to face a separate 11/9 problem: How will lawmakers find a path forward after the conclusion of dozens of toxic proxy battles between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan?

You’ve seen the demonizing commercials and mailers, I’m sure. The parties and outside donors have spent lavishly in 48 contested legislative races and the statewide special election for comptroller.

Most of the Democratic pitches are attempting to tie the Republican candidates to the unpopular Rauner and to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is likely to lose Illinois. Most of the Republican pitches are attempting to tie the Democratic candidates to the even more unpopular Madigan.

Republicans will probably pick up seats in both chambers of the General Assembly — Rauner won the 2014 popular vote in 33 of the contested districts now held by Democrats. But they remain unlikely to break the Democratic majorities (71-47 in the House; 39-20 in the Senate) that have blocked Rauner’s agenda and prompted Rauner to refuse to negotiate a full-year budget. Madigan’s current advantage in the House is right at a three-fifths majority, just enough to override any vetoes by the governor if he keeps his entire caucus in line.

So what will be the outlook when we wake up on Wednesday, 11/9?

I asked four veteran analysts of state politics for their views, and their answers were not encouraging.

Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of political science, University of Illinois at Springfield:
“I expect Republicans to pick up two to three seats in the Senate and four to five seats in the House. … If anything (such a result will) make movement more difficult because it will decrease the chances of a member revolt producing a breakthrough.”

After surviving “very nasty, superexpensive campaigns … members are likely to conclude that they need protection from the other side in elections even more, and that the best source of that protection is the governor for the Republicans and the Democratic leaders for the Democrats.

“Long term, the governor is building a brand that says ‘I have unlimited money, I will spend it, and I can help you or I can hurt you.’ If he picks up some seats, he can say privately to the Democrats, ‘I can do this in 2018 and 2020 and 2024 and so on. I can inflict a lot of pain and eventually I will get control, so it is better for you to make a deal with me now.’ ”

David Yepsen, retired director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale:

“There is no evidence anything is going to change. Bruce Rauner will still be governor. Mike Madigan will still be speaker. The Democrats don’t have a working (three-fifths) supermajority now, and they won’t have one on the day after the election. Instead of (Rauner) making life miserable for (Democratic lawmakers), they’ll be ready for payback time and making his life miserable for the next two years. It’s sad.

“After normal elections, there’s a bit of coming together. Not in these divided times. Instead of folks hitting the reset button or plucking olive branches, they’ll be sharpening spears.”

Mike Lawrence, former press secretary to Republican Gov. Jim Edgar and also a former director of the Simon Institute:

“If the Republicans score any gains in the legislative races, Rauner and crew will claim a big victory and perhaps even a mandate. … But, in a sense, losing his so-called supermajority may not be a bad outcome for Madigan. He really has not had a working supermajority, but his opponents chide him for not exercising supermajority power to move revenue enhancements and override any Rauner vetoes. Such an expectation essentially evaporates if he, in fact, no longer has a supermajority.

“I wish I could be more optimistic, but I think we likely will see a continuation of the unproductive, shameful lack of movement toward putting our state back on firm fiscal footing and removing the uncertainty that I view as the main barrier to improving the economic climate in Illinois.

“I’m convinced that this election has much more to do with 2018 than 2016. I think Rauner and his people believe their path to re-election — if he chooses to seek it — is further erosion of the Madigan brand … and I predict they will continue their assaults as 2018 approaches.

“I sense that Madigan has developed an animosity for Rauner that was not there for previous governors; after all, none of Rauner’s predecessors publicly and consistently called Madigan corrupt. That’s about as personal as it gets. So, none of this, in my opinion, bodes well for the responsible governance our state so desperately needs.”
Christopher Mooney, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Springfield:

“No change in the basic dynamics of the budget stalemate will come out of the election, other than that those on each side, being human beings, will likely be even more annoyed after having millions spent against them besmirching their character, motives, policy preferences, allies, etc.

“If (Democratic comptroller candidate Susana) Mendoza wins — and she likely will, given past voting patterns and current demographics in the state — she could make the governor’s (life) more difficult. … But in the end, again, the basic dynamics won’t change.”

“It’s not a pretty picture, but hell, if the Cubs can win the World Series, I guess anything is possible.”

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Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
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