Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

How Joe Walsh Lost to Tammy Duckworth

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Why did Joe Walsh, national Tea Party superstar, lose? And Tammy Duckworth win?

    The question of a medically necessary abortion best explains it. In this election cycle, three men — all Tea Party candidates — made idiotic, unscientific assertions about abortion and/or rape. In Walsh’s case there is little question the firestorm that resulted drove him to defeat.

    Walsh — whether you love him or hate him — has an Everyman quality that resonated with voters despite a litany of personal financial problems including a now-resolved dispute over $117,000 in back child-support payments.

    In the newly drawn 8th Congressional District, there are plenty of aspiring middle-class families in Rolling Meadows, Carpentersville and Elgin who understand financial struggles to pay the bills.

    By toning down his incendiary tendencies and focusing on fiscal issues, Walsh had by early October eliminated Duckworth’s 10-point advantage and was leading her by 3 points, 48 percent to 45 percent according to a We Ask America poll. And thanks to his 13-1 advantage in SuperPAC cash, Walsh was the beneficiary of almost $6 million in outside money.

    He was on an improbable roll.

    Those worries ended in the studios of WTTW-Channel 11 on the night of Oct. 18, when Duckworth and Walsh sat down for the campaign’s final public forum on “Chicago Tonight.”

    Read more of Marin's column at the Chicago Sun-Times.