Saturday, March 08, 2008

Illinois Special Election Update

In a stunning special election, Democrats picked up former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's old district tonight. Democrat Bill Foster edged Republican Jim Oberweis to capture a House seat that had been virtually uncontested by Democrats for two decades. Kendall, Kane, and DuPage counties, longtime Republican bastions, went to Foster. The election returns are here.

As I hinted a few posts ago, this election would seem to be not only a test case for this fall's campaign, but also serves as a look into how newer suburbs and exurbs might behave in the future. Judis and Texeira, in their seminal "The Emerging Democratic Majority," argue that these areas are ripe for Democratic gains. In looking at the data, we see that Foster indeed won the suburban and exurban areas--the eastern part of the district--while Oberweis was successful (though not overwhelmingly so) in the rural western part of the district. As more and more people, especially young professionals, move in they are less tied to the partisan attachments of earlier generations and are able to remake the politics of these areas. It would seem as if we have another data point for this theory.