*1st in the Simon Review Series

Simon Review Paper #1

A shorter version of this paper was published in Illinois Issues, November 2003.


During the 20th Century, Illinois always enjoyed the status of being a "bellwether" state meaning that it was a microcosm of the nation. Most of the time, "as goes Illinois; so goes the nation," at least in presidential politics. In the entire 20th century, Illinois failed to vote for the winner only two times. Those were the deviations of voting for Hughes over Wilson in 1916 and Ford over Carter in 1976 (both were Republicans over the Democractic winners). Otherwise we voted for the victors. This was thought to be because we are a big diverse state, well representing the demographic and electoral make up of the United States. We have a large diverse city, sprawling suburbs, small towns, and a large rural population. Just as importantly, we have two very competitive parties. Over the long haul in Illinois electoral history, either party can win in any race or year. Thus, Illinois is always a prize worth competing for, and it has usually been a battleground state.