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Election night live blog: What we’re watching now

November 7, 2018

6 p.m.: Will we see any surprises tonight?

Here are the two best possibilities among our DeKalb County races, either of which would pass for upsets:

1. DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder race: As if running an election isn’t a big enough task, Republican Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson also is facing a determined Democratic opponent in Carolyn Morris.

Morris’ yard signs and advertisements have been visible around the community. She’s put several thousand dollars of her own money into her campaign, along with contributions from AFSCME Council 31 and the Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association.

Johnson has been clerk since he was appointed in 2013 and is completing his first full term in office.

Why it would be an upset: It’s somewhat rare for Democrats to win countywide offices in DeKalb County – unless they’re Ron Matekaitis or Amanda Christensen. Johnson won 58 percent of the vote against a qualified Democratic challenger in Trent Taylor in 2014. There’s no polling data for this race, but an incumbent Republican candidate should have an edge by default.

Why it could happen: Morris has been visible and active. She’s played up her background as a veteran and charity founder, and she’s hammered the point that the clerk’s website is not user-friendly – and she’s right about that.

2. 14th District U.S. Congressional race. Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren hasn’t faced a challenge like the one Democrat Lauren Underwood is giving him since he won the seat in 2010.  

The race has tightened up in the past month or so. Hultgren has responded, not only showing up to forums with Underwood (which politicians never do when you’re comfortably ahead) and appearing at a rally with President Trump in Murphysboro last weekend.

Why it would be an upset: This district shouldn’t be close. Voters in the 14th supported Trump by 3 points in 2016; Hultgren beat his Democratic challenger by 19 points. The district includes what would normally be considered “safe” Republican territory, including Sycamore.

Why it could happen: Underwood might be something of a single-issue candidate, but her single issue is also the No. 1 issue in this campaign: Health care. And Underwood is a good candidate. She’s young, she’s got charisma, and she’s got some fight in her, too. The latest polls have put Underwood ahead.

5:25 p.m.: What will DeKalb County turnout be?

If the early voting numbers are any indication, turnout should be better than average for a midterm election – but not on the level of a presidential election, where we’ve seen turnout in the upper-60- to mid-70-percent range in recent votes.

 

In the last presidential vote, in 2016, 10,900 people voted early. Another 1,900 voted by mail. That total was almost 20 percent of the DeKalb County electorate.

 

As of Monday afternoon this year, we had a more than 8,600 people vote early, along with more than 1,370 mail-in ballots. So the early vote total was almost 30 percent greater in 2016 than this year.

 

People might be taking advantage of early voting more as they become more comfortable with it, and I don’t think we’re going to break any records in this midterm election. Not to mention, the weather today has been raw and rainy.

 

In the last midterm election, in 2014, we saw almost 49 percent voter participation. This time, I think it’ll be better. I’d put the over/under at 55. Take the over at 57 percent.

The question we’ll have to wait a few hours to learn is, who got more of their voters to the polls?

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