On Saturday there will be a special election in Illinois that many suggest will be a test case for this fall (and serves also as a test case of "The Emerging Democratic Majorty" thesis). In the race to fill the seat of retiring Rep. and former Speaker Dennis Hastert, Republican Jim Oberweis squares off against Democrat Bill Foster. Polling suggests a dead heat.
For decades, the district has been solid Republican country but as the Politico notes, it has been changing dramatically in recent years. Becoming less rural and more suburban (especially on the more populated eastern edge), Democrats feel they have a real chance at a pick-up. In the recent Illinois primary, slightly more Republican votes were cast in the district (75,000 vs. 66,000) as both parties had contested races for their nominations. Both Obama and McCain have made appearances and campaigned on the nominees' behalf and the parties' congressional campaign committees are contributing mightily to the effort. As with most special elections, turnout will be the key, especially for a Saturday vote. Never fear though, as there will be an encore performance of this race in November for election to a full term.