In the 2010 congressional elections, five seats went from Democratic to Republican. Two years later, four seats went from Republican to Democratic.
House Speaker Michael Madigan hopes we won’t be seeing such a dynamic reflection of the people’s whims for at least another decade. The Speaker drew a map which one publication wrote qualified him for the “partisan hall of fame.”
Madigan, who is also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, drew a map designed to maximize his party’s power and marginalize the Republicans’ power. It crammed as many Republicans as possible into a small number of Downstate and suburban districts, allowing Madigan to distribute Democrats over the maximum number of districts.
However, Madigan may have cut it too close in a few districts. Congressional incumbents win re-election 90 percent of the time, due to fundraising advantages and gerrymandering. But according the Cook Political Report, Illinois has some of the most competitive congressional races in the nation.
The 10th District, where former Rep. Bob Dold will try to reclaim the seat Brad Schneider took from him 2012, is one of only seven of 435 congressional elections rated in the “Toss-Up” category.
In western Illinois, two districts are rated as “Lean Democratic,” meaning the incumbents have a slight advantage. In the 12th District, freshman Rep. Bill Enyart is running against state Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro, a well-known legislator who has served in the General Assembly since 1995. In the 17th District, Rep. Cheri Bustos will have a rematch with Bobby Schilling, whom she defeated in 2012. (Schilling’s website asks voters to “help re-elect Bobby Schilling.”)
If Schneider, Enyart and Bustos, they may solidify the Democrats’ holds on those districts. But for now, Illinois will be one of the most exciting states to watch on Election Night 2014.