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                                                                    November 16, 2016                                                      
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Election Wrap-Up: 
No Sign of Change, More Status Quo
On Monday, The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform hosted a free forum titled "2016 Election Results: Change or Status Quo?" at the Standard Club in Chicago. Moderator Lauren Chooljian, City Politics Reporter at WBEZ, began the conversation by highlighting the dramatic increase in campaign spending this year on legislative races and the contest for Illinois Comptroller. Chooljian asked panelists to discuss whether campaign spending on both sides of the aisle achieved its intended result. 

Pat Brady, Consultant at Next Generation Strategies and former Illinois GOP Chair, responded, "Of course it worked. For the GOP to win so many seats [four new GOP seats in the House and two in the Senate] in a Presidential year is phenomenal." 
State Senator Daniel Biss (D) expanded on campaign spending this year, noting, "We’re in the middle of an experiment, and while what happened last Tuesday gives us some data, the really important question is going to be what happens in 2018 [in the Gubernatorial Election]." Panelists agreed that both parties approached this Election with a long-term strategy in mind.

State Senator Sam McCann (R), explained that while the Republican Party certainly made gains in House and Senate seats, the state legislature is "essentially at a stalemate," with Democratic majorities still in place in both chambers. He noted that campaign spending in Illinois is likely to continue to increase, unless "it reaches a point where the Democrats can't keep up" with GOP fundraising from large donors. 

Terry Walsh, Principal at The Strategy Group, pointed out a potential future issue with Illinois Republican fundraising, which saw a heavy reliance on large individual donors. He explained, "When your fundraising is generated primarily by three people, you are in a very risky enterprise, because...if they decide to walk away, you’ve really marginalized smaller-dollar donors."

Matt Murphy, Consultant at Mac Strategies Group and former Illinois State Senator (R), said that fundraising will be strong headed into 2018, explaining, "The Governor has committed to doing what he could to turn this state around. He has committed it with his time, and he has certainly committed to doing it with his treasure. I think you'll see the GOP, for the first time in a generation, have the ability to compete with Democrats in terms of campaign finance dollars."

Panelists agreed that while an unprecedented amount of money was spent on advertising, very few substantive issues were discussed throughout the campaign. Many of the ads run across the state were highly negative. Hahah Jubeh, President at P2 Consulting, said, "Attacking one another is something that works well across the state, and that was used to galvanize people in this election" to vote for or against candidates in their District. While many voters dislike large amounts negative advertising, panelists agreed that it has been proven as an effective tool, and will likely remain prevalent in future Illinois elections.

ICPR would like to thank Lauren Chooljian and our panelists for participating, and for the Standard Club for working with us on this event. Click here to view the event's social media coverage on Storify.
Copyright © 2016 Reform for Illinois, All rights reserved.

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