The political ad season

Although this is a hot political season, I come from a family that was interested in politics, and I’m interested in politics, I’m completely on the sidelines, particularly this time around.

For one thing I live in Chicago. Here it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that, in any given race, the regular Democrat will win. My part-time Congressman is Rahm Emmanuel. I haven’t seen a single political ad from him, don’t know who’s running against him, and haven’t even received any frank mail from him. Why should he bother?

The gubernatorial race is incredibly distressing but we’ve been swamped with ads for that race for so long that at least I am just mentally blocking them out at this point. Rod Blagojevich is an incredibly weak candidate by practically any yardstick but Judy Baar-Topinka is running under the handicap of the previous governor, Republican George Ryan, the self-immolation of the Illinois Republican Party, and the energy which seems to be flowing the Democrats’ direction.

Television here is, however, deluged with political advertising particularly for the Illinois 8th Congressional District between incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean and Republican challenger David McSweeney and Henry Hyde’s old seat in the Illinois 6th Congressional District between Democratic newcomer Tammy Duckworth and Republican Peter Roskam.

The 8th Congressional District contains portions of Lake, McHenry, and, I think, Cook Counties. The area has experienced enormous growth over the last few years and, if I’m any judge, it has trended slightly more conservative than it used to be.

I’m seeing quite a few RNC-sponsored 8th District ads that try to link Bean and Nancy Pelosi, of all people. These seems somewhat farfetched to me, an attempt to nationalize the election. I suppose that if it draws out an informed or alarmist Republican base there it might be a good strategy. Can someone from outside the area tell me if these ads are part of a canned program? Presumably, the reason we’re seeing so many RNC ads in this race is that McSweeney has already blown his wad.

This is the seat that Phil Crane held for many years—Melissa Bean took it from him narrowly after Crane had to weather one too many scandals. She may ride the Democratic stream to hold the seat but I suspect it will be very, very close.

The ads I’m seeing for the 6th District are very different. These are basically anti-illegal immigration ads. That’s an interesting strategy. The 6th District is largely in DuPage County with snippets of Cook. The area has had an enormous influx of Hispanics over the last few years, at least half of whom are here illegally. Henry Hyde’s old hometown of Bensenville, for example, looks to me to be overwhelmingly Hispanic at this point.

Historically, DuPage County has been as solidly Republican as Cook County has been Democratic and it’s one of the most prosperous and fastest-growing counties in the country.

Currently, the polls are showing a dead heat but if Tammy Duckworth takes this seat it will be a big loss for Republicans.

UPDATE:  The Chicago Tribune has updated polling information on both of these races.  It certainly looks as though incumbency is working to Melissa Bean’s advantage although with 14% undecided among the “likely voters” surveyed turnout will be very important.

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