On Sunday morning, President Obama joined Governor Pat Quinn and Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias for breakfast at Valois Cafeteria in Hyde Park. Speaking to diners, Obama was cautiously optimistic.
"I feel great, we've got good turnout," Obama said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "Pat's gonna win, Alexi's going to win. That's why turnout is so important. We've seen a lot of enthusiasm, but it's going to be tight. These are close races. It's true here. It's true in Ohio. It's true in every state where we're competing. And obviously, the other side is enthusiastic. We've got to make sure our side is too."
Turnout seemed to be the thing on everyone's mind over the weekend and into Monday, as candidates made their final rounds on the campaign trail.
As Gov. Quinn greeted Red Line riders on the South Side Monday, his opponent Bill Brady talked to Metra riders. For once, they both had the same message.
"I need your help tomorrow," Quinn told commuters. Ald. Fredrenna Lyle, who joined Quinn Monday, put it bluntly: "Remind everyone you know to vote," she said, according to the Tribune.
At the Ogilvie's Metra platform, Republican Brady was making his final push.
"The vote's what counts and we've got a few more hours left to get all of our votes out," he said, according to the Tribune.
Brady, however, might be a little less nervous than Quinn. Nationally, pollsters are predicting major wins for Republican candidates. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, known for his extremely accurate predictions in the 2008 presidential race, gives Brady an 80 percent chance of winning the election, despite the fact that Gov. Quinn has been gaining on him in recent weeks.
And though both the governor's race and Senate race in Illinois have been called tossups in recent weeks, Public Policy Polling came out with new numbers Monday that will surely make Democrats uneasy.
"Republicans continue to lead the races for both Governor and Senator in Illinois, albeit by close margins," PPP writes in a release. "Mark Kirk is ahead of Alexi Giannoulias 46-42 for the state's open Senate seat and Bill Brady is ahead of Pat Quinn 45-40 for Governor."
Many Republicans are hoping that a Kirk win in Illinois will be an extra punch in the gut for Democrats--since he would be taking President Obama's former Senate seat. To get into the "upset" spirit, Kirk held a fundraiser with Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown Sunday. Brown became an instant GOP celebrity when he won late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy's longtime seat.
"If it can happen in Massachusetts, it's definitely gonna happen in Illinois," Kirk said at the event.
Kirk and Giannoulias have been virtually tied for months, and the race is still considered a tossup. Nate Silver, however, gives the Kirk a 61 percent chance of winning Obama's old seat. But Alexi Giannoulias is far from giving up. Giannoulias held a series of rallies Monday, with turnout again being the top priority.
"We need to make sure we knock on every door," Giannoulias said to a downstate crowd Monday. "Let's kick some butt tomorrow."
Democrats are hoping the same people who came out to vote for Obama in 2008 will support them Tuesday, but as Silver pointed out, this election is a hard one to predict.
After explaining how he came up with his predictions (by looking at local polls in each congressional district, expert ratings and fundraising data) Silver explained further:
". . . if a simple formula and a complex one tell you the same thing -- yeah, Tuesday's probably going to be a really good night for Republicans, but we really don't have a very good idea of exactly how good -- it's probably time to embrace that conclusion. This is a really strange election, or at least one that pollsters are having an awfully difficult time getting a handle on. To claim you can predict Republican gains within a range of 5 or 10 seats isn't science -- it's superstition."
And whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent in Illinois, Public Policy Polling says we will all be in the same boat. Citing the extremely low favorability of Brady, Quinn, Kirk and Giannoulias, PPP writes, "No matter who wins either of these races Illinois voters will be left with a Governor and Senator that they don't like."
Who do you think will win in Illinois on Tuesday? Explain in the comments, or play our election games here.
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