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Contact:  Colin Williams  |  |  312-436-1274
March 21, 2018 
Democratic Turnout Surges, While GOP Turnout Drops in IL Primary
1.92 million people voted in yesterday's Primary Election, after nearly a year of full-fledged campaigning from candidates on both sides of the aisle. Overall, turnout this year was the highest for a gubernatorial Primary Election since 2002.

Democratic turnout increased by 325,000 from 2010, the most recent year with a competitive gubernatorial Primary on the Democratic ballot. In contrast, Republican turnout dropped 138,000 since the last contested primary, which took place in 2014.
Illinois Gubernatorial Primary Election Turnout
Including Early Voting as Percentage of Turnout
One likely reason for increased Democratic turnout was the number of high-profile contested races on the Democratic ballot. Along with the hard-fought gubernatorial and Attorney General races, voters were motivated by strong candidates for seats that haven't seen serious challengers in years. Dan Lipinski and Chuy Garcia prevailed in the 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts, and voters in Cook County replaced Assessor Joe Berrios with political newcomer Fritz Kaegi.

On the other hand, Republican turnout was depressed from 2014. Incumbent governors typically don't see strong primary challengers when running for re-election, which can lead to a drop in Primary Election turnout for their party. This occurred on the Democratic side in 2014, when incumbent Pat Quinn had just one under-funded opponent. Although Governor Rauner played down the legitimacy of challenger Jeanne Ives' candidacy for most of the primary, the closer-than-expected win by the governor underscores the engagement Ives drew from the GOP base.

Early Voting also continued to be a popular choice for voters, with 32% of all voters casting a mail-in ballot or visiting an in-person polling place before Election Day. Early Voting turnout doubled this year compared to 2014, when only 16% of ballots were cast during the Early Voting period.
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Research contributed by Policy Director Colin Williams.

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