First, let us be clear: Pat Quinn won. Second, progressive, conservative, and tea party voters helped him do it.
While the bean counters and the lawyers at the Cook County and Chicago Board of Elections and elsewhere in Illinois continue to sift through uncounted absentee and other ballots in the governor's race, we can call the election: Quinn has defeated GOP State Senator Bill Brady.
Brady yesterday refused to concede.
"I think (Mr. Quinn's margin) is going to be significantly higher" than 8,300, said Republican election lawyer Andy Raucci, this morning, according to Crain's political columnist Greg Hinz.
Raucci was right.
With 100% of precincts reporting, Quinn has now expanded his Tuesday morning edge of 8,300 to 19,561 or 47% to 46%, with the remaining vote spread among minor candidates.
There are 14,000 absentee ballots still to be counted in heavily Democratic Cook County and Chicago, but only a handful of uncounted votes remain in GOP-friendly precincts throughout Illinois -- not enough for Brady to overcome Quinn's lead, according to a Chicago Tribune survey of top election officials in multiple counties.
And Quinn spokesman Mica Matsoff has, obviously, affirmed that assessment:
The ballots left to be counted appear mostly to come from Cook County, where the Governor held a large margin over Senator Brady. We expect to hold our lead, and may increase it. We do not see a path to victory for Bill Brady.
Hinz also reports that insiders within the Brady camp recognize their candidate has lost.
"It's over," a top Brady ally said.
The race is over in Governor's favor because liberals "came home" and a small chunk of conservative and tea party voters sided with the long-time liberal Quinn. At the last possible moment -- election day -- a chunk of disenchanted progressive abandoned their flirtation with Brady, Illinois Green Party candidate Rich Whitney, and to lesser extent independent Scott Lee Cohen.
On Monday, the day before the election, Public Policy Polling, which counts Democratic candidates among its clients, released a poll of 814 voters, taken between October 30-31, that revealed Quinn losing to Brady by five points, and that lagging support among liberal voters was costing the Governor the election.
The ultra-conservative Brady was taking 14% of liberal voters; Whitney was capturing 8%; Cohen was taking 4% while Quinn himself only 72%.
Once in the voting booth, liberal voters, however, had a change of heart.
According to an ABC News exit poll of 2,269 voters, Brady's share of liberal support shrank to 8%; Whitney's withered to 4%; and Cohen's slipped to 3%, giving Quinn's grew to 84%. Moreover, Quinn took 17% of conservative voters, up from the 14% in the Public Policy Polling survey, while Brady claimed 79% of conservatives on Election Day.
Unbelievably, even a wee-chunk of Tea Party die-hards gave crucial votes to Quinn. Kid you not.
Of Illinois voters who "strongly support" the Tea Party movement, 15% of those voted for Quinn while only 4% of Illinois voters who "strongly oppose" the group went to Brady, according to the exit poll.
How does one explain these results?
Regarding progressives, Quinn and his liberal allies furiously hammered relentlessly away on Brady's deeply conservative social views on a raft of issues during the last eight weeks. They highlighted his opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, his opposition to mammography testing; his opposition to civil unions and hiring protections for gays and lesbians; his support for teaching creationism in local schools; etc.
The Governor also bludgeoned Brady -- as did many editorial pages that endorsed the 17-year legislative veteran -- on the credibility of his budget-balancing plan that rested on a 10% cut to the $26 billion state-controlled portion of the budget to close a $13 billion hole. The questionable math likely troubled some hardheaded fiscal conservatives and those with calculators.
Brady told reporters yesterday that it will be "a 30 day process" to settle the election and that he expects to win, but refused to identify from where the winning votes will come to overtake Quinn.
Brady's math has failed him again. He has lost. A concession should come sooner than in 30 days.