5 reasons why Quinn lost

  • Gov. Pat Quinn, right, speaks from his election party at the Hotel Allegro in Chicago Tuesday.

    Gov. Pat Quinn, right, speaks from his election party at the Hotel Allegro in Chicago Tuesday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Updated 11/5/2014 4:22 PM

More than 20 hours after the polls closed, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn conceded he lost his race against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.

Why did Quinn lose? Here are five reasons.


"November and December"

When Gov. Pat Quinn met with the Daily Herald editorial board in September, he was asked why voters should believe he could accomplish his budget plans in 2015, given that he hadn't succeeded this spring. That budget included making the 2011 temporary state income tax hike permanent.

Quinn immediately offered: "It's going to happen in 2014, in November and December."

"They're going to have to take a look at what I proposed and realize that that's the best way to go," he said of lawmakers.

While legislative procedures mean he almost certainly couldn't have succeeded before 2015, Quinn planted the seed in voters' minds that he was rushing to keep income taxes where they are instead of letting the rate drop at the end of the year.

In 2011, lawmakers approved an income tax increase in the hours before a new class of officials took their seats and with the help of a number of lame ducks who were later offered state jobs.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

Rauner used Quinn's quote in ads and debates, trying to raise the idea that Democrats would make the same move again.


Quinn had a number of big legislative wins on his record. He signed same-sex marriage legislation into law, and a yearslong effort to try to save the state money by cutting teachers' and state workers' pension benefits was approved.

Still, Rauner worked to paint Quinn as a "failure."

One of Quinn's key pitches to voters was that he'd work to raise the minimum wage. Rauner countered that Quinn's party had been in power in Springfield for years, so he should have been able to get it done already.

Bad news

Quinn took office in the hours after senators decided to kick disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich out of office and inherited Illinois finances that were immensely troubled.

Via the income tax increase and other moves, Quinn and lawmakers were able to put a dent in the state's debts over his term in office. But the state was in such a deep hole that big challenges remained.


As governor, Quinn couldn't avoid tough decisions in his term. Tough decisions are hard to campaign on, and Rauner tried to offer voters an alternative by largely not describing how he'd specifically address a lot of the same problems.


Republicans nationally had the political winds at their backs Tuesday night as the party swept to big wins in Congress and the U.S. Senate.

The GOP picked up both of the biggest races for Congress in Illinois, too.

Those national gains are largely seen as voter backlash against President Barack Obama.

Quinn is a big fan of Obama's who stood with him for multiple events late in the campaign, so Quinn could have been hurt by the national mood.


Republican candidates for office in Illinois loved talking about Rauner and change.

In the end, Rauner failed to drag more than a few Republicans to Springfield along with him.

Democratic candidates for the Illinois House were able to fend off strong challenges across the suburbs.

Those Democratic candidates were going door to door for months, most telling voters they are against keeping income taxes where they are. Sensing the political mood on taxes, candidates in Quinn's own party were contradicting him in the suburbs for months.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.