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Rauner's Win Attributed to Poor Economy

Huffington Post

A phenomenon known as "Retrospective Voting" appears to have been at play when Bruce Rauner was elected governor of Illinois over incumbent Pat Quinn.

Western Illinois University Political Scientist Keith Boeckelman said voter’s negative perception of the state’s economy was a large factor during this month's election.

“So according to this theory, voters will vote based on how things are going on in their lives and how they see the general environment,” Boeckelman said. “So, in Illinois, there was a very bad economic environment for the incumbent Pat Quinn.”

The state’s significant debt and an above-average unemployment rate in recent years ended up hurting Quinn.

“About a year ago, a 1.5 years ago, Illinois had the second highest unemployment rate in the nation,” Boeckleman said. “And so the economy struggled. That’s improved quite a bit but we are still about 33rd or 34th and the improvement came too late really to help Pat Quinn very much.”

Rauner was able to play up the down economy throughout his campaign.

“He stuck with a message that focused on the retrospective voting idea that Illinois is a mess. He kind of hit that message home over and over again,” Boeckelman said.  

Boeckelman said Rauner was also able to effectively move from a more conservative candidate during the primary to a moderate one for the general election.

Rauner will be Illinois’ first Republican governor in more than a decade.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.