the day before Election Day last week. Well, it wasn't actually the president, just a recording. And it wasn't a personal call. It was a recording probably sent to tens of thousands of likely African American voters in Illinois in an effort to drum up support for embattled Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. "We can't afford to stay home," Obama declared, "because the best thing you can do for me in the White House is to vote to keep Pat Quinn governor."
Voters in Chicago's majority black wards were the strongest base of support for Quinn, just as they were for former Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006. Quinn won 90 percent of the vote in the city's 20 majority black wards, according to an analysis of election data by The Chicago Reporter. However, without President Obama's push to get out the vote and the efforts of other African-American political figures--I got calls from U.S. Rep, Bobby Rush, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, Secretary of State Jesse White and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.--Quinn might have come up short in his gubernatorial race with Republican Bill Brady.
Collectively, the turnout in Chicago's majority black wards was 52.3 percent in last week's election. Quinn received nearly 248,000 more votes in those wards than did Brady, according to the Reporter's analysis. In 2006, the turnout there was 46.6 percent. Had voters in Chicago's black wards turned out last week at the same rate as they did in 2006, Quinn's margin of victory would have been nearly 221,000 votes. That 27,000-vote bump was slightly more than Quinn's eventual 20,000-vote victory.