This suburban Chicago seat swung from Trump to Biden two years after going blue in an upset

This suburban Chicago seat swung from Trump to Biden two years after going blue in an upset

Daily Kos Elections is pleased to bring you our calculations of the 2020 election results for Illinois’ 18 congressional districts, where yet another surge in ancestrally Republican territory helped Democrats hang on to a seat in the Chicago exurbs that they flipped in 2018. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

Two years ago, in one of the most colossal upsets of the midterm blue wave, Democrat Lauren Underwood, then a 32-year-old nurse who’d never sought office before, defeated Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren in Illinois’ 14th District, making her the youngest Black woman ever elected to Congress. Last year she drew a far weaker opponent in perennial candidate Jim Oberweis, a state senator who was so despised by his own party that a major Republican super PAC tried to defeat him in the primary, but Underwood wound up winning by a closer-than-expected 51-49 margin.

That spread was similar to Biden’s 50-48 win, but that take represented Biden’s biggest district-level improvement in the state on Hillary Clinton’s performance four years ago, when she lost the 14th to Donald Trump 49-45. In a sign of just how much things have changed, this district’s predecessor, also numbered the 14th, was once held by child molester and former Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert before his resignation following the GOP wipeout in the 2006 elections.

Biden also saw a sizable jump in the neighboring 6th District, one rung closer in to the city of Chicago, which Democrats also picked up in 2018. That seat, however, is now all but out of reach for Republicans: Biden won it by a sizable 52-43 margin after Clinton carried it 50-43. Democratic Rep. Sean Casten secured a second term with a similar 53-45 victory.

Democrats were less successful in the one Illinois district that outside groups targeted in 2020, the 13th in the central part of the state. While Trump’s margin declined slightly, from 50-44 to 51-47, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis defeated Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan 54-46, considerably better than his narrow 50.4-49.6 escape in their first matchup two years earlier.

Team Blue was lucky, however, to avoid a major humiliation in the 17th District in the northwestern corner of the state. That seat is occupied by former DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos, who won reelection just 52-48 over an unheralded Republican foe, Esther Joy King, after deep-pocketed super PACs on both sides poured money into the race just before Election Day. But Bustos actually ran ahead of the top of the ticket as Trump once again carried the 17th, this time by a 50-48 margin—a slight increase on his 47.4-46.6 win in 2016. With Biden flipping the 6th District, that leaves Bustos as the only member of Illinois’ delegation to represent a district carried by the opposite party’s presidential candidate.

Biden’s 57-41 statewide victory was very similar to Clinton’s 55-38 win, but his success in the suburbs was offset by a decline in Latino and Black areas of Chicago. The district that saw the biggest drop was the 4th, a majority-Latino seat represented by Democratic Rep. Chuy Garcia, which Biden won 81-17 versus 82-13 for Clinton. Similar dips took place in the 1st and 7th, which are predominantly Black. Biden still won each of these districts in a romp, but his weaker performance mirrors a similar slump in Black and Latino neighborhoods in other states.

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