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Showing posts from November, 2016

Sarah Brune of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform Recaps Voting and Campaign Spending in 2016 Election

by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar
I had the great privilege of speaking with Sarah Brune of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) just before Thanksgiving. We discussed her career path that led to ICPR, the work of the organization more broadly, an Illinois centric-post mortem of the 2016 Election, and how ICPR is poised to support the work of Illinois civics teachers.

Sarah’s involvement in politics began at the local level on the north side of Chicago, but she has since pivoted to statewide work at ICPR. Hear more about her career trajectory and the organization’s work in this opening segment of our interview.



ICPR manages the Illinois Voter Project, which offers breakdowns of voter participation by county and age cohort. It also demonstrates changes in party preference at the presidential level in Illinois from 2008 to 2016. Most striking is the transformation of downstate countries from competitive to strongly Republican. Chicago retains its strong Democra…

Springfield Stalemate Prevails in Aftermath of 2016 Election

by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar
Last week, we broke down the 2016 Election results at the presidential level, also making reference to continued Republican control of the US House and Senate. Today, we’ll do the same for Illinois.

From the top, Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates) handily defeated incumbent Mark Kirk (R-Kenilworth) for US Senate. This was one of only two pick-ups for Democrats nationally as the GOP retains a 52-48 seat majority. While Chuck Schumer replaces Harry Reid as Minority Leader, Illinois senior Senator Dick Durbin remains Minority Whip, removing him from a possible gubernatorial bid in 2018.

On the House side, only two of Illinois eighteen seats changed hands, with Raja Kristnamoorthi holding Duckworth’s northwest suburban seat (IL-8) for the Democrats, and Brad Schneider besting incumbent Republican Bob Dold in the adjacent 10th congressional district that has swung back and forth between these two candidates four consecutive elections. Schneide…

Back to the Future: The Electoral College Strikes Again

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by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar
Monday’s post analyzed one of the greatest upsets in presidential election history and parsed the polls that predicted the opposite. Today we’d like to revisit the venerable Electoral College, back in the news after a sixteen-year hiatus.

The vote count continues, but as of this writing, Hillary Clinton claims a popular vote lead approaching 800,000 votes nationally, besting Donald Trump 47.8% to 47.2%. Trump, of course, leads in the only place that matters, the Electoral College, 290 to 232, with Michigan’s 18 electoral votes still outstanding but likely to be added to his column in the coming days.


This dichotomy has occurred four times in our nation’s history, and twice in the last five presidential elections.

Conventional wisdom heading into November 8th was that Democrats had an Electoral College firewall that included the two coasts, selected states in the Mountain West, and most of the Rust Belt. This would protect against potentia…

Conventional Wisdom and Polling Data Challenged in 2016 Election Aftermath

by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar
Six days removed from the toxic 2016 Election, we are still left with lingering questions, in desperate search for answers. In the next several posts, we’ll attempt to collectively discover them, and encourage you to send along topics you’d like us to discuss.

One prominent question is how did so-called political experts, myself included, get the presidential race so wrong?

There is no single explanation, of course, but clearly the strength of Donald Trump’s candidacy was underestimated from day one of his campaign. Like President Obama in 2008 and 2016, Trump reshaped the electorate, consolidating the traditional Republican base while also extracting working class whites from the Democratic coalition, perhaps once and for all. In so doing, Trump altered the electoral map, weaving the Solid South with the Rust Belt, thereby neutralizing the bi-coastal strength of the Clinton candidacy.

In spite of Clinton’s well-funded and functioning …

Teachers Stand Tall During Time of National Healing

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by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar
Emotions in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election results remain raw, so my first post-mortem analysis will focus on addressing them with our students. Future posts will examine policy consequences, polling errors, and an Electoral College redux, but we teach in a deeply-divided state and country, and are obligated to build bridges with our students towards a better future.

In some ways, Illinois is an outlier in that it voted decisively for Hillary Clinton, isolated in a vast inland sea of Trumpian red. However, her 16-point statewide victory masks Donald Trump taking 92 of 102 counties, including massive margins in Southern Illinois. Thus, depending upon where we teach, our students may be jubilant or depressed, vindicated or fearful. Of course, this also holds true for their parents.


However, in the policy alternatives he has prescribed, revelations of past indiscretions, and statements and behaviors on the stump, Trump has threatened an…

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar
Election Day is here, and like me, many of you will have already cast your vote by the time you read this post, happy to check off this cycle’s thankless chore, having chosen the lesser of two evils. For even the most ardent of political junkies among us, instead of reveling in this great exercise of democratic governance, we’ll close our eyes after hours of election results and collectively exalt, “Good riddance.”

I’ve lamented before about the special challenges of teaching this election, so will pivot instead to the important work that lies ahead in our classrooms beginning tomorrow.

Tonight’s presidential outcome and control of the U.S. Senate promise to be closer than we anticipated even ten days ago. Many of our students and their parents will have supported or even voted for losing candidates. They may very well feel like doomsday has arrived. And many of their concerns and grievances are real.

But we cannot allow them to forget t…

Teaching the 2016 Election: Closing Arguments

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by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar
We’ll conclude our extensive coverage of teaching the 2016 election with two final posts. Today’s will provide a late stage analysis of races up and down the ballot six days from Election Day. Monday’s post will address where we go from here as a country and as educators with our students.

Despite the topsy-turvy nature of the presidential contest, it has remained remarkably stable from a polling perspective. Hillary Clinton is the prohibitive favorite to prevail next Tuesday, but recent revelations related to her email server and leaked exchanges of top campaign officials have narrowed her lead. Her projected 3.7% margin over Donald Trump according to FiveThirtyEight.com mirrors that of President Obama over Mitt Romney four years ago.

Moreover, Clinton has multiple paths to the 270 electoral votes necessary to prevail, while Trump needs to thread the needle. According to FiveThirtyEight.com’s state-by-state projections, Clinton would win…