Biden Wins Big Among Illinois Students in Statewide Mock Election

by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Democracy Program Director

Election Day is here, but it arrived early for the 16,063 students in grades 6-12 that participated in the Kids Voting Illinois Mock Election, hosted in partnership with Students from 70 middle and high schools represented all eighteen Illinois congressional districts and 73 of 118 Illinois House districts. As we await official results this evening and likely throughout the week, let’s comb through the results of the Illinois Mock Election. It is our hope that they will serve as a point of comparison as you process both with students in the coming days.

All student voters weighed in on the presidential, US Senate, and state graduated income tax amendment, but received customized ballots that included the US House and Illinois House and Senate districts specific to their school. For the sake of simplicity, detailed analysis of the national and statewide questions follows, along with topline results for the Illinois General Assembly races.

Illinois students voted for former Vice President Joe Biden (D) by a two-to-one margin over President Trump (R), 63.1% to 30.8%, with the remaining vote split between the Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen (2.3%), the Green candidate Howie Hawkins (1.9%), and other third party candidates combined (1.9%). These results are in alignment with the September 2020 Harvard Youth Poll, where 63% of likely votes ages 18-29 favored Biden and 25% Trump. 

Four-term US Senator Dick Durbin (D) won a plurality of the student vote (42.7%), outpacing Republican challenger Mark Curran (24.7%), independent candidate Willie Wilson (21.8%), Libertarian candidate Danny Malouf (7.2%), and Green candidate David Black (3.6%). 

The proposed constitutional amendment to change the method of income taxation in Illinois from a flat to a graduated system passed the super-majority threshold among students, with 61.1% in favor and 38.9% opposed. Depending on how many Illinois voters weigh in on the amendment, it requires a sliding scale from a narrow majority (50.1%) with 100% participation among those voting to 60% if 83% or fewer voters participate (see below). 

Among Illinois’ eighteen congressional races, incumbents held serve in all but two of the sixteen they contested: Democrat Ray Lenzi clipped Republican Congressman Mike Bost in IL-12 (Southern Illinois), 51-49%, and Republican challenger Esther Joy King crushed incumbent Democrat Cheri Bustos in IL-17 (Western Illinois), 67.6%-32.4%. Bost’s seat is considered a safe Republican seat and Bustos’ leans Democrat, so these results confound pundits’ predictions.

Democrat Marie Newman ousted incumbent Congressman Dan Lipinski in the IL-3 March Primary (Southwest Side of Chicago and adjacent suburbs), and she defeated her Republican opponent Mike Fricilone decisively among students in the district, 83.5%-16.5%. Republican Mary Miller bested Democrat Erika Weaver in IL-15’s open seat currently held by retiring Congressman John Shimkus (R), 58.4%-41.6%.

Finally, 22 of Illinois’ 59 Senate seats are on the ballot in 2020, and ten of them were represented among schools participating in the Mock Election. Democrats claimed seven of the ten seats, cementing their current supermajority when paired with the already-held seats. A similar trend held in the Illinois House, where 73 of the 118 districts were represented on student ballots, and Democrats claimed 54 seats to Republicans’ 18. Perhaps the most fiercely contested Illinois House race is in the 111th District in the Metro East Region, pitting incumbent Monica Bristow (D) against Republican challenger Amy Elk (R). Par for the course, students in the district split their votes evenly down the middle.

We are grateful to the teachers and administrators who helped facilitate the Illinois Mock Election and commend the 16,000-plus students that participated in this pinnacle of democratic governance. Please plan to join us tomorrow, Wednesday November 4, for our next Election 2020 Webinar from 3:30-4:30pm, as we break down the election results and compare notes on how best to debrief its aftermath in the days and weeks to follow.


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