by Craig Dimitri

There hasn’t been a lot going right for the Illinois GOP.  But they have a golden opportunity to redeem themselves, after their long series of disasters.  Namely, a chance to do the unthinkable in the expected Democratic tidal wave of 2006: unseat a Democratic House incumbent, Melissa Bean, in the northern suburbs of Chicago.  Polls suggest that although it’s an outside chance, it could happen… 

The IL-8th CD is comprised of Lake, McHenry, and parts of Cook County.  Republicans still can do well in this district.  George W. Bush carried it without any trouble, breezing past John F. Kerry with 56% of the vote in 2004.  In 2002, veteran Rep. Phil Crane (R)carried it with 57% of the vote.  But in 2004 – even while the district was heartily endorsing Bush for a second term – Democrat Melissa Bean captured the House seat, by a narrow 52%-48% margin.  In doing so, she defeated Crane, the longest-serving Republican in the state’s House delegation.

In a year where Republicans are defending themselves nearly everywhere, the opportunity to take out a Democratic freshman in a GOP district is quite tantalizing, as it would represent a two-seat swing and force Democrats to knock out another Republican to offset Bean’s defeat.  The GOP standard-bearer is David McSweeney, an investment banker.

MajorityWatch has taken three rounds of polling in the IL-8th CD.  The initial round, conducted from August 27-29, showed Bean leading McSweeney, 48%-45%.  The second round, from October 15-16, reflected little change: Bean 47%, McSweeney 44%.  Finally, the most recent poll, conducted October 24-26, confirmed previous results: Bean 50%, McSweeney 45%.  All three polls were conducted with approximately a 3% margin of error, so Bean’s current five-point lead shows her ahead of McSweeney for the first time.

Why has Bean been able to increase her lead, however slightly?  She has been able to convert her “leaners” into solid support.  In the first round, she had “33% strong , 15% weak“; the second round, “36% strong, 12% weak“; most recently, “41% strong, 9% weak“.

In contrast, McSweeney’s same categories have remained identical through three rounds of polling: “35% strong, 10% weak“, in each poll, in spite of the fact that they were taken weeks apart.  McSweeney’s inability to close the deal with his wavering supporters, likely means that Bean will return to DC for a second term.  While an upset is still possible, 2006 will be a very tough year for a Republican challenger to defeat a Democratic incumbent in the House – even in a long-time GOP district, facing a freshman Democrat.

Bean official campaign site – http://www.melissabean.com/

McSweeney official campaign site – http://www.davidmcsweeney.com/ 

MajorityWatch poll – http://www.majoritywatch.com/

Questions?  Comments?  Information?  You can contact Craig Dimitri at cdimitri1@yahoo.com. 

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