Income and party were two key factors driving the outcome of election contests from president to local referenda in the March 20 primary, according to a Post-Election Report for Suburban Cook County released today by Cook County Clerk David Orr.
Despite the low turnout, Republican voters made their mark this time around, Orr said. The number of ballots cast for Republican candidates rose by 12% compared to the February 2008 Presidential Primary.
March 20 was the first presidential primary without a major Democratic contest since 1996, with overall turnout dropping to 24 percent of registered voters. That is down from 43 percent in 2008, when seven candidates vied for the Democratic nomination.
Despite the uptick in Republican voters and downturn in Democratic voters, total ballots still tilted significantly to Democrats, at 53 percent of all ballots cast. Nearly 1 percent of voters took nonpartisan ballots.
On the Republican side, Mitt Romney won every township in CookCounty, with Rick Santorum taking second place. Romney's support was strongest in townships with higher incomes; Santorum made consistently larger inroads into Romney's margins as the income level of the township dropped. Four of the five closest races on the ballot were referendums, all of which were electricity aggregation referendums. Fifty-five of the 66 electricity aggregation referendums on the ballot in SuburbanCookCounty won approval. The success of electricity referendums had an inverse relationship to income-municipalities with higher incomes were more likely to pass a referendum which promised to save money on electric bills. Lower income communities were less likely to pass them.
The highest turnout by township and the lowest by precinct were both in Evanston. It was the only township to exceed 30% turnout but suffered from low turnout on the Northwestern campus during its spring break.
Charts and maps illustrating the new General Assembly districts and full election results are in the Post-Election report at cookcountyclerk.com