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Independents To Decide Illinois 10th Congressional District

by Carl Wicklander, published

For the third consecutive election, the Illinois 10th congressional district will see the same candidates battle each other in a race where independent voters could make the difference.

The district has witnessed some of the tightest elections in recent history. Robert Dold won in 2010 before consultant and Democrat Brad Schneider defeated him two years later. The Republican returned in 2014 and defeated Schneider. The margin of victory for the winner in each of the past three elections were 2, 1, and 3 percent respectively.

Polling for the 2016 contest done by each party shows its corresponding candidate in the lead, suggesting that the race is a true toss-up.

The 10th district covers much of the northeastern corner of Illinois, particularly the northern suburbs of Chicago in Lake County. According to the Partisan Voting Index of the Cook Political Report, the Illinois 10th congressional district is the most liberal to have a Republican representative, so moderate and independent voters may well be the deciding factor in the race.

In attempting to reclaim his old seat in 2014, Dold described himself as an "independent-thinking moderate." In a biographical statement on his 2016 campaign website, Dold leads off by saying he is "currently serving his second term as an independent voice for the Tenth District of Illinois in the United States Congress." Dold also touts his support for bipartisan measures, including reforming the partisan drawing of congressional districts:

"There's no doubt that gerrymandering has led to a deeply partisan political climate. We need to end the backwards practice of letting politicians choose their voters instead of letting people choose their representatives."

In addition to presenting himself as an independent, Dold also emphasizes his moderation compared to other Republicans. Dold has previously broken with his party over gay rights, abortion restrictions, and gun control. He was also one of the first Republicans to publicly refuse to support Donald Trump for president due to the businessman's comments on women, Latinos, Muslims, and POWs.

However, Dold's decision refusing to support Trump may not necessarily help him. Trump was the top vote-getting Republican in Lake County with 36%, not far from the 39% showing he used to win majority of state's delegates.

The outcome of the Illinois 10th congressional district could also be decided by the higher voter turnout of a presidential election compared to a midterm. The year Schneider won, 2012, was a presidential election year. That year, Schneider finished 3,000 votes ahead of Dold with 133,000. By contrast, Dold regained the seat in 2014 against Schneider by needing only 95,000.

Photo credit: The Daily Herald

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