Election Aftermath: Chicago Shrugs Big Shoulders UPDATED

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

The breaking story of President Bush’s reelection victory was reported for the Chicago Tribune by Jeff Zeleny and Rick Pearson from Washington. “For the second consecutive presidential race, Americans endured a spellbinding conclusion to an intensely fought campaign, with Bush winning Florida and Kerry claiming Pennsylvania,” they wrote. “Several Midwest states were among the last to fall into the electoral vote puzzle.”

Illinois, however, was not among them. That was a state that Bush conceded long ago, stopping by only for an occasional private fundraiser. Kerry also skipped the state, which he won by 59%-to-41% margin.

The sense of being bypassed hit at least one Chicago newspaper commentator hard. “As the votes were tallied Tuesday night to conclude the presidential campaign that never came to Illinois,” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown wrote, “it seemed like as good a time as any to ask: Is this our future fate, to continue to sit on the sidelines while the battle for the presidency is fought all around us? The answer, I’m afraid, is probably yes for at least one more election, and possibly for many more.”

Brown noted the demographic changes in the state, a swelling of African American and Latino populations who are reliably Democratic voters, and observed that in Illinois, at least, city folk who move to the suburbs don’t become Republican just because they own a riding lawn mower.

The consequences are “a shame,” Brown wrote: “The last thing Illinois needs is to become a non-competitive, one-party state. We get enough of that in Cook County.”

In a reaction piece to Bush’s win, Tribune columnist Eric Zorn voiced his cautious optimism for the future.

“Republican President Bush will enjoy a Republican Senate, a Republican House, Republican appointees in seven of the nine Supreme Court justice seats, 29 Republican governors and virtually 24/7 support from right-wing talk radio to help him realize those promises and confirm the beliefs of his supporters,” he wrote. “Credit and blame for what happens in this country and to this country in the upcoming years will belong to him and his party. Speaking for myself, I’ll be happy to apportion both and trust that they will accept it honestly.”

Zorn noted that some of Bush’s supporters have been less than kind to the columnist today following the incumbent’s re-election: “Some of my e-mail this morning has been taunting and ugly — celebrating the Bush victory by inviting me to eat crow and do anatomically impossible things. But winning an election does not demonstrate the superiority of your principles and programs; it’s merely a chance to do so.”

The Tribune reported heavy trafic on its site, www.chicagotribune.com, today, but admitted it was glitchy through most of the morning. “We’re not really sure what the problem is,” a spokesperson said. “You’re not seeing the full-blown site.”

On Election Day, the spokesperson said, the site had two million page views.

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