GOP tries to regroup after suburbs go for Obama again
President Barack Obama walks onstage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha at his Election Night party Wednesday in Chicago.
Once might be considered a fluke, but twice is a trend.
And President Barack Obama's continued election successes in suburbs once fortified by Republicans have many area GOP leaders concerned.
"We did put out a strong effort getting information out to people, but it's tough," said state Rep. Randy Ramey of Carol Stream, who also serves as chairman of the Wayne Township GOP in DuPage County.
While his suburban victories weren't as commanding as they were in 2008, Obama still managed to carry Cook County and four of the collar counties. McHenry County voters were the only ones in the suburbs to rebuff the president, voting for Republican challenger Mitt Romney overwhelmingly.
In 2008, Obama swept all of the suburban counties.
"In McHenry County, people were angry when George Bush was president, and they were looking for change in 2008, but this time they were scared," said state Rep. Mike Tryon of Crystal Lake, who is also chairman of the county's Republican Party. "They are scared about neighbors losing their houses and their jobs and the future for their kids. Our voters educated themselves before they made their vote."
Obama coasted to wide margins of victory in suburban Cook County and Lake County.
"You're seeing an influx of different people moving into these collar counties," said state Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan, chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party. "That's why you're seeing a lot of change in voting patterns."
Ramey said his party should be more inclusive and reach out to traditionally conservative minority groups like Indians and Hispanics.
But he added that GOP leaders aren't doing enough to attract new residents and educate them about the party.
"A lot of the problem is that when (people) move out of the troubles they had with Cook County, they keep voting the same way, not realizing they left Democratic-controlled problems," he said.
Obama narrowly won in DuPage and Kane counties, places where he handily won four years ago. Even in Will County, where Obama beat 2008 GOP candidate John McCain by more than 35,000 votes, unofficial results show his margin over Romney was less than 10,000 Tuesday.
But DuPage County Democratic Party Chairman Bob Peickert isn't worried.
"I think the attitude of people has changed," he said. "People used to tell me they only ran as Republicans in DuPage because they couldn't get elected otherwise."
DuPage voters Tuesday elected their first Democrat to the forest preserve board and Tom Cullerton became the county's first Democratic state senator, leaders said.
Ramey believes suburban Republicans aren't being as loyal to the party as they once were.
"In my precinct, Obama won his race by 40 votes, but (Congressman Peter) Roskam won his race by 50," Ramey noted. "Why aren't people keeping in line with the party all the way down the ballot? That's disconcerting."
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