Collar county blues: Dems turn out in record numbers

February 7, 2008 4:49:39 PM PST
One surprising result from Super Tuesday's election was the Democratic turnout in collar counties.In traditional Republican strongholds, such as DuPage County, more Democrats went to the polls than Republicans.

Democrats in DuPage County have always been on the endangered political species list, but not any more. As "Turn DuPage Blue" becomes a political reality and not just rhetoric on a campaign poster.

"We want to have a voice here. There's no Democrat that's elected in DuPage County to any position," said Bob Peickert, Turn DuPage Blue organization.

Democrats have a good chance of changing that after turning out more votes than Republicans in Tuesday's presidential primary for the first time in history, motivated by the excitement of a Democratic race featuring two candidates with local roots, dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush and a steady influx of black, Hispanic and Asian voters, who seem to be as likely to vote Democratic as Republican.

"The Democrats in DuPage County are a microcosm that's sweeping the country," said Cecilia Guzman, Turn DuPage Blue organization.

"I understand the demographics have been changing for a while, but people are very dissatisfied right now," said Kathy Davidson, DuPage Democrat.

Lois Breseman, DuPage Republican, said she thinks Illinois senator Barack Obama was the big draw for Democratic ballots.

In the presidential primary of 2000, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats more than 3-1. But the margin was narrower in 2004. And the Democrats turned the table completely Tuesday, winning the turnout battle by 12 percentage points and forcing the county's GOP chairman to play defense for the first time.

"We take our friends from the Democratic side of the aisle, and their organizational efforts, we take them seriously out here. We have to make the case to the voters day in and day out," said State Senator Dan Cronin, chairman. "We have things that appeal to people out here based on a legacy of Republican leadership, enlightened Republican leadership."

Nationally, 10 million Republicans voted on Super Tuesday, versus 14 million Democrats.