Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Illinois political geography

The New York Times breaks it down for you: Cook County, “collar counties,” and “downstate.”

[It’s primary day in Illinois.]

comments: 7

normann said...

Manhattan, outer boroughs, Long Island and Westchester, Upstate. There, isn't that a moronic way to describe New York? You'd think "America's newspaper of record" would have a more subtle take on "downstate Illinois". They could have started with the area code boundaries, which are are coterminous with real geoographic divisions. Unglaciated 618 is a very different place from 217 and 309 (with their deeper topsoil and more prosperous agriculture).

Pete said...

I've always been amused by Rockford being considered "downstate", though it's further north than Chicago. And I love that Cairo is six hours from Chicago but only three hours from Mississippi - I never knew that before.

Michael Leddy said...

The article (which seems to reflect the thinking of an Illinoisan) does make further distinctions, but yes, the three labels are an oversimplification.

Pete, I think a fair stretch of downstate Illinois is only three hours from Mississippi, figuratively speaking at least.

Sara said...

This article made me say a lot of bad words. According to it, I live in "southern" Illinois and am part of a highly evangelical Christian area. I've lived here for 30 years and would never have said that about my part of the state. Strange. Also, I find it weird that the article suggests the people here did not vote for Romney because of their religious views -- in actuality, many people here did not vote for Romney because they think he's a money grubbing scoundrel. To them, Santorum seems "nicer."

It's true that religion might have had a small part in their decision making process, but most people here vote for candidates based on whether or not they like the person as a person, not for the issues the person stands for or against. This decision making process ties directly into many folks' beliefs that all politicians are snakes and it doesn't matter who you vote for, they will find a way to screw you over.

Why do many people here think that? Well, have you met our governors?

(Sure, that may be a bit of an oversimplification of the people here, but based on my experiences living here, voting for the person over "issues" is pretty much how things go down, with the exception of the "abortion issue" of course.)

I'm also confused by the "downstate" map. How is anything that is not Chicago "downstate?"

Also, why is Illinois split up based on Chicago's location?

Isn't what's labeled as "downstate" pretty much all of Illinois?

That's kind of messed up.

Michael Leddy said...

Certainly there are many people in “downstate” Illinois who don’t fit the Times description (you and I among them, right?). I’m reminded of going door to door for Barack Obama in Terre Haute and being surprised, again and again, at the variety of people I encountered and the (generally) positive reception they gave me. But the “downstate”/Chicago divide seems to me real.

Anonymous said...

Does the divide matter? It will, but not the way folks think. CBS reports the state debt, and divides it into our shares: "The report shows the state’s debt is so massive that it’s the equivalent of $78,000 per household." http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/10/11/kirk-releases-report-on-illinois-debt-crisis/

Michael Leddy said...

I think the divide matters for people who live here. “Downstate” tends to get little respect in many matters of policy (say, the selection of HMO options for state employees).