Obama barely misses repeating 2008 suburban sweep
President Barack Obama, winning his home state of Illinois on his way to a national victory, got help from all but one of the suburban counties that backed him four years ago.
Suburban Cook County delivered strong for Obama, giving him more than 64 percent of the vote with most precincts reporting, and he took Lake County with about 54 percent of the vote.
Obama also carried Will County narrowly, with 52 percent late Tuesday. And he held a lead of about 4,100 votes in DuPage County with several precincts left to report. In Kane County, Obama took about 50.4 percent of the vote, edging Republican Mitt Romney.
McHenry County turned out for Romney, giving him about 54 percent of the vote with most precincts in.
That didn't particularly bother Obama backers on a night that provided big wins for Democrats across the suburbs.
"If he wins the state, he still wins," said Cristina Castro of Elgin, an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention in September in Charlotte, N.C.
All of the Chicago collar counties went blue for Obama in 2008, a trend that spoke to how strong Obama's victory was that year.
But that was a departure from previous years.
In both 2000 and 2004, suburban counties voted for Republican President George W. Bush. And in 1996, during the re-election bid of popular Democratic President Bill Clinton, DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties went for his Republican opponent, Sen. Bob Dole.
Lake and Will counties went for Clinton -- Lake by just 166 votes.
"Certainly in Illinois, we know him. And Lake County is an area where we know him well," Lauren Beth Gash of Highland Park, a leading Obama delegate to the party's national convention, said in explaining the president's re-election strength in the suburbs.
"The economy is important, but I believe that a candidate's social views and his or her character are of the utmost importance in this election," said Shelia Gummerson of Schaumburg, a retired teacher who voted for Obama.
Yet, Romney found his own pockets of strength.
"The president had his chance, and he screwed it up. It is time to get a Republican back and fix this country," said Barb Lynn of Hoffman Estates, a dental hygienist who voted for Romney.
Though neither candidate for president paid much attention to Illinois this time around, Romney got some face time in the suburbs earlier this year, making stops in Vernon Hills and Rosemont as he carried the area decisively on the way to an Illinois primary election victory.
He also stopped in Elk Grove Village for a campaign event this summer.
Obama has made occasional stops in Chicago throughout the campaign, including to vote early and to head to McCormick Place for his rally Tuesday night.
Obama's coattails may have been a boon for Democratic candidates in hotly contested congressional races in the suburbs.
Democrat Bill Foster of Naperville won over U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert of Hinsdale in the 11th Congressional District Tuesday -- just as Foster had done in 2008 when he rode the Democratic sweep to his first congressional victory.
Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates beat U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of McHenry in the 8th Congressional District. Democrat Brad Schneider was leading U.S. Rep. Robert Dold late Tuesday in the 10th Congressional District in Lake and Cook counties -- both counties that Obama carried.
This year, congressional candidates in Illinois used the Obama and Romney tickets to try to sully their opponents. Democrats tried to tie Republicans to vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's controversial budget plans. And Republicans tried to tie Democrats to Obama's controversial health care reform plans.
•The Associated Press contributed to this story.