In 2016, there may be roughly 5 million votes cast again in November, but they may be more evenly split between the two parties.
If that happens by significantly improving the Republican party turnout, even though the party does not seem to have any strategy or plan to grow the base, it could dramatically change the composition of the General Assembly in Springfield.
As shown above, many Democratic voters showed up to vote for Barack Obama in 2012, but nearly 650,000 of them did not vote for General Assembly candidates in House districts. There was a similar pattern for the Senate districts. By contrast, few of the Republican voters failed to vote for General Assembly candidates.
If the Republican turnout improves in 2016, and the Democratic turnout declines as expected, that may also make many more Illinois House and Senate races competitive. Dozens of districts have been lost in prior elections by a small margin.
On the other hand, throwing money at such districts is not likely to be an effective strategy.
To illustrate, in the 2014 midterm election, the campaign for Governor Rauner spent roughly $63 million, but that didn’t lead to victories in the Illinois House or Senate, Congress, or other state offices.
He achieved more votes than Bill Brady in 2010, but he got about 1.8 million votes, as compared to about 1.7 million in 2010. Governor Quinn earned fewer votes than in 2010, which made all the difference. He had fewer votes in 2014 than Bill Brady had in 2010 with a campaign which spent about $15 million poorly.
In short, what did all those millions really achieve?
Attorney General Lisa Madigan got over 2.1 million votes in 2014, down from nearly 2.4 million in 2010. Secretary of State Jesse White got nearly 2.4 million votes in 2014, down from nearly 2.6 million in 2010.
That means hundreds of thousand of voters supported Lisa Madigan and Jesse White, but not Pat Quinn. Few, however, crossed over to vote for Governor Rauner or to support Republicans in the General Assembly.
There is no evidence yet that the party or Governor has a plan to actually grow the base of Republican voters in the districts which could be won in 2016. Throwing money at the campaigns may not get the job done.