The 21st Show

Why The Illinois Primary Matters


In this Jan. 27, 2010 file photo, voters cast their ballots for Illinois' primary at an early voting polling place in Chicago. Illinois election officials say the number of registered active voters in the state is at its highest since 1970. Illinois State Board of Election spokesman Jim Tenuto said Tuesday Oct. 25, 2016, that there are 7.9 million registered active voters in the state. M. Spencer Green/Associated Press

Historically, Illinois hasn't played an important role in primaries, as more than half of states vote prior to Illinois' election. But for the first time since 1988, Illinois could be the state that breaks a deadlock by March 17. With so many candidates to choose from, there likely won't be a clear winner by the time it's Illinois’ turn to vote. Illinois voters could potentially act as the tie-breaker in the Democratic primary race for president.

In 2016, there were just two candidates to choose from, Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton. Clinton won Illinois by 2%. Generally, Illinois votes for the primary winner, the recent exception being 1988 in which Illinois voted for Senator Paul Simon and awarded him his sole victory.

Illinois is a diverse state with urban and rural areas and Democrat and Republican voters. As a result, it's hard to predict just how they'll vote, but it looks as though Bernie Sanders could be the front-runner.

Guests: Edward McClelland, Chicago-based journalist who wrote about the primary for Chicago Magazine. Kitty Kurth, political consultant. 

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