What Democrats' big wins could mean for Illinois in 2018 - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

What Democrats' big wins could mean for Illinois in 2018

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WSIL -- On the first major election day since Donald Trump took over the presidency, it was Democrats who won big, sweeping the top offices in Virginia, and taking over the New Jersey statehouse from Republicans.

"They had been so far down so long that they needed a shot of adrenaline, which I think last night gave to the whole national Democratic party," said John Jackson, Professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

He says Tuesday's elections energized Democrats across the country, and could have big implications for races in Illinois next year.

He says Republicans are running on their own merits and against a president with low popularity, all while still needing to turn out his base to have a chance to win.

"The key last night was turnout," Jackson said. "The Democrats turned out heavily and the Republicans didn't, and that will be the key a year from now in the midterm elections."

Jackson says the Illinois Governor race next year is similar to last night's in New Jersey, where Democrat Phil Murphy roundly defeated Republican Kim Guadagno after eight years of Chris Christie.

While Christie wasn't in the race, Jackson says his abysmal approval rating of 15 percent gave Democrats a reason to turn out, something that could hurt Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner and his 30 percent approval next year.

"The question is can the Democrats cash in on that," Jackson said. "They certainly did in New Jersey, I think it remains to be seen in Illinois."

Jackson thinks if opposition to President Trump, who's approval rating sits under 40 percent, is still strong next year, it could cause another strong Democratic turnout.

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