Eye On Illinois: Undecided voters big enough block to swing GOP primary

With six weeks remaining, “undecided” has more than enough to win the Illinois GOP gubernatorial primary.

So says a poll of likely primary voters conducted in early May, as Capitol News Illinois detailed Friday.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is doing best among decided voters at 24.1%. Close behind is state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, 19.8%, and in the single-digit ranks are Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine, 7.8%, downstate venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, 7.3%, attorney-actor-personal trainer-pastor Max Solomon, 2.3%, and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, 1.9%.

A plurality suffices to advance to November. Technically that means 17.5% could win if five candidates tied at 16.5%, but we’re more likely headed toward something resembling 2010, when former state Sen. Bill Brady won with 20.26%, besting Senate colleague Kirk Dillard by fewer than 200 votes. DuPage County’s Bob Schillerstrom finished last in that seven-candidate field with 7,420 votes, not quite 1%.

This serves as your regular reminder that in five GOP primaries since 2002, turnout averages 797,000. Using round numbers, if Irvin pulled 24% of 800,000 voters, that’d be 192,000 people, roughly 1.5% of the overall population.

A close race was inevitable. Even the two-person GOP primary in 2018 was razor-thin, with barely more than 3 percentage points separating incumbent Bruce Rauner from state Rep. Jeanne Ives. Current candidates know they’re chasing margins and that turnout efforts will be crucial, and the leaders are campaigning accordingly.

The undecided pool is substantial. I’d love to hear from likely voters on what might lead them to commit before June 28.

On this day

Illinois officially became the Land of Lincoln on this day in 1955. The phrase first appeared on license plates in 1954, but the General Assembly formalized it 67 years ago, followed by congressional copyright protection. That’s the official slogan, Prairie State is the nickname and the considerably older state motto appears on the flag: “State sovereignty, national union.”

Middle of Everything

In conjunction with a new state campaign, I’ve invited readers to share favorite Illinois tourist attractions.

DeKalb’s Jan DeVore is president of the Glidden Homestead board of directors. She wrote about Joseph Glidden’s 1874 patent for barbed wire and encourages visitors to the home and farm where he developed “The Winner”:

“The original brick house and brick barn where the barbed wire development took place are supplemented with a garage turned Welcome Center and a mill house turned blacksmith shop where blacksmithing is demonstrated when the Homestead is open, June through November. The Joseph F. Glidden Homestead and Historic Center is a national treasure with two National Historic Site registrations that is often overlooked. It qualifies as a great ‘Middle of Everything’ spot to visit. Information about museum hours can be found at”

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at