The Illinois Primary

Today I will be blogging on the Illinois primary, because no one else is going to bother. We move our primary up six weeks so we can have a say in who the leader of the free world will be, then half the country does the same thing, so we’re right back where we started from–completely taken for granted.

5:59 AM: My alarm clock goes off, and Lisa Labuz of WBEZ, the local PBS station, announces breathlessly, "The polls are going to open in one minute!" I’m registered to vote 24 miles away, so I can’t participate in the primary. I make a mental note to register in Wilmette in time for the general election, and go back to sleep for one minute.

6:08 AM: The weather forecast calls for thundersnow this afternoon, which will be bad for turnout.

8:02 AM: I want to know how Red Eye is going to cover the primary, if it notices that there’s an election this year. Red Eye is the Chicago Tribune’s free daily. It seems to be read only on El trains, and only there because it’s easy to read standing up. It’s also easy to read half asleep. A woman standing next to my seat has a copy. There it is–on the front page no less. Fantastic Fight! The four major candidates depicted as cartoon superheroes. Very understated. I’m betting Red Eye hasn’t endorsed anyone because the in-depth coverage of the democratic process is, like, so old media. Red Eye isn’t distributed at the Linden Station, so I can’t check for the feature on the best bars to go to after voting. I know it has to be there someplace.

I use the Chicago
Tribune’s Super Tuesday online guide. I
see that the Tribune has the Campaign ’08 link grouped with a shopping center
shooting and "Man Crushes," which makes me think the Tribune isn’t taking
the primary very seriously, either.

I see the Tribune has endorsed Barack Obama for president on the Democratic side. I wonder why. The Tribune endorsed George Bush for president, twice. Ah, here’s the explanation: "many Republicans in Illinois have warm words for Barack Obama." A Democrat Republicans can love, at least until he opposes tax cuts for the wealthy. 

I haven’t registered
to vote in Wilmette yet, but I’m curious to know where I will be voting in the
fall. The site takes in my address and zip code . . . Then can’t find my
nearest polling place. It doesn’t seem to have tried very hard. I try the voter
guide function, choosing the Democratic primary. It asks me, "Do you want
to review the judicial subcircuit candidates?" Good Lord, no.

First I get the
presidential candidates. In addition to Clinton and Obama, somebody named Mike
Gravel is running for president. Well, good luck to you, Mike, whoever you are.
I discover Dick Durban is up for re-election. Nobody told me that. I’ve always liked
Dick Durban. Nice, steady guy to balance our state’s tendency to elect flash-in-the-pan Senators, like Carol Moseley Braun and, um, Barack Obama, who seems
pretty anxious to dump his gig as our junior Senator.

10:07: I get bored with the Tribune voter guide as it wades into the state representatives, so I check out what’s going on in the Sun-Times, which has finally washed off the stink from its years under Rupert Murdoch’s ownership. The Sun-Times has endorsed Barack Obama, he of the "curiously poetic name." The editorial is curiously poetic itself. "Obama is right on the issues, right in daring us to believe in a
goodness greater than ourselves, and right in having the confidence to
appeal to all of us as one America." The Sun-Times endorsed John McCain on the Republican side, then they blow it by suggesting Mitt Romney should be vice-president. Then again, maybe that makes sense, now that Dick Cheney has made the office a vehicle for partisan bile and underhanded business dealings.

10:49: I’m trying to measure the pulse of Illinois voters by taking an informal poll of my co-workers, but it’s going to be a challenge because the threat of thundersnow this afternoon means several people are working from home. A fellow Wilmette resident made it into the office. I noticed several Hillary signs in town on my way to the train station,
evidence that her brand of prickly entitlement is playing well on the
North Shore. Sure enough, my co-worker says he intends to vote for Hillary Clinton when he gets home. He says he has questions about Obama’s lack of experience. Based on this sample of one person, I’m calling Wilmette for Hilary Clinton.

11:25: I asked another co-worker who he was going to vote for, and he informs me he is now a citizen of the Republic of Ireland and therefore won’t be voting today. He will vote for Bertie Ahern for prime minister in the next election. Huh? Turns out he’s undergoing some sort of ethnicity transplant.  Uh-oh. Another co-worker who is actually Irish tartly corrects him on his pronunciation of Ahern and informs him that Ireland doesn’t have a prime minister. She gives the Irish word for leader, which she can pronounce but can’t spell. She tells him, "You have a lot of work to do on being Irish." Poor guy. I let this alone for now, but later on I’m going to ask him for his Green Card. Results among people who have emigrated without leaving their desks: too close to call.

12:12: Tempers are flaring already at The Swamp blog, at least among the commenters. Jeff begins the discussion by declaring, "Romney has shown his true colors again, and they’re the New England colors of a classless piece of human filth." Jerry from downstate responds, "I suggest John McCain should apologize to the GOP for being a
Democrat/Liberal/Socialist. Mitt Romney is right just standing in line." That’s just the first two comments.

12:23: Jerry from downstate is throwing flames everywhere. At Lynn Sweet’s blog he comments with a note about last night’s Hannity & Colmes, in which "the Obama con game" is uncovered.

In somewhat more useful news, Sweet reports that later on this afternoon Obama is going to play basketball with his brother-in-law, the head basketball coach at Brown, and the state treasurer, Alexi Giannoulias. Sweet also says that neither the Clinton or the Obama campaigns think today’s results will be conclusive. So what’s the point? I knew this monster primary was a bad idea.

2:36: I polled another co-worker about his voting intentions. He’s the one who moved to Indiana to avoid the open office arrangement. Indiana won’t hold its primary until May, so he says he’ll just vote for whoever we choose. He’s looking on the bright side, though. The May ballot will include a referendum to move Indiana to Central Standard Time. That’ll be a good thing. He never seems to know what time it is.

Results among people who write computer code in their garages in small towns in Indiana: Whatever.

4:02: More tempers are flaring: Two female election judges traded blows on the city’s west side. Early turnout is reported to be high statewide, but forecasters are predicting up to a foot of "heart-attack snow," the really heavy stuff that’ll kill you to shovel, with the possibility of embedded thunderstorms–"thundersnow." Most of the really nasty stuff–up to an inch an hour snowfall–will occur overnight, long after the polls close at 7:00 PM, but according to one person working from home in the far northwest suburbs, the snow has already started. As a result, she’s not heading out to vote. One lost vote for Clinton.

7:40: The networks gave Illinois to Obama at two minutes after seven. This wasn’t a surprise. On the train ride through Chicago’s North Side I saw some graffiti supporting Obama, so I knew Obama had it in the bag.

If Obama wins California, he’s pretty much unstoppable.

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