Crystal Ball Looks Good For Madigan

House Speaker Michael Madigan is powerful enough to turn the Illinois congressional delegation from Red to Blue, but not the entire House of Representatives, concludes Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the political prognostication website.

Control of the House will be determined in the Great Lakes states, writes Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. But in five of those eight states, congressional redistricting was controlled by Republicans. In Ohio, for instance, the new map has already ended the career of Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Crystal Ball gives Madigan his due, predicting the Democrats will take four seats now held by Republicans: in the 8th District, Tammy Duckworth will defeat Rep. Joe Walsh; in the 10th District, Brad Schneider will defeat Rep. Bob Dold; in the 11th District, Bill Foster will defeat Rep. Judy Biggert; and in the 17th District, Cheri Bustos will defeat Rep. Bobby Schilling.

In another close race, the 12th District -- where Rep. Jerry Costello is retiring -- Crystal Ball favors Brad Harriman over 2010 Republican Lieutenant Governor nominee Jason Plummer.

(I'm not as enthusiastic about the Democrats’ chances. We think Dold and Biggert will win, and call the 12th District a toss-up.)

“We’ve known for months that Illinois, one of the first states to complete redistricting, was going to greatly help Democrats in their efforts to take the House,” writes Kondik.

But Illinois won’t be enough: “If the race for the House truly comes down to the Great Lakes states, Democrats will have to break some Republican-drawn maps. This is, needless to say, a daunting task.”

One reason Madigan can’t carry the Democrats to victory is that he doesn’t have enough seats to work with. In 1970, the year Madigan was elected to the General Assembly, Illinois had 26 seats in the House of Representative. Since then, we have exported seven seats, many to such Republican-leaning states as Texas, Florida and Arizona.

Even though Madigan’s remap won’t lead to a Democratic takeover of the House, he’ll still be a winner. There will be more Illinois Democrats in Congress, raising more money for the Illinois Democratic Party, of which Madigan is chairman. Springfield, not Washington, is the capital of Madigan’s world, so that’s what he really cares about.

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