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Editorial: Temper your expectations for this campaign

Published: Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014 9:20 p.m. CST

We were reminded this week by the media who keep track of such things that the election is 100 days away.

That is important because ... the media who keep track of such things need something to talk about.

And 100 days is significant because it’s a nice round number that is easy to remember.

Otherwise, at 100 days and counting until the vote, political polling is only slightly less insignificant than it was last week and the week before that and the week before that, etc.

The only opinion poll that counts will be Nov. 4.

Who will show up?

AMID ALL THE MEDIA chatter about key races that will determine whether Republicans will wrest control of the U.S. Senate from Democrats, nobody seems to be talking about the Senate campaign in Illinois.

Republican Jim Oberweis is airing a lot of radio commercials with testimonials of former employees, but he isn’t (yet) attacking three-term incumbent Democrat Dick Durbin.

That means such a tactic would be A) premature or B) useless.

Polls show Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn trailing GOP challenger Bruce Rauner by double digits. A good guess would be that Durbin is up by about the same margin that Quinn is down, but no one is talking.

That means A) Durbin doesn’t want to brag and B) Oberweis doesn’t want anyone to know.

So far, Durbin has acted as if he didn’t know his seat was on the ballot this year.

After the next media marker in the campaign (Labor Day), look for Oberweis to try to hang Quinn and his predecessor (inmate No. 40892-424 in Littleton, Colorado) around Durbin’s neck to see whether that can drag down the incumbent enough to be reachable.

Don’t expect it to be clean.

But do expect to be tempted to throw a shoe at the TV during the non-stop commercials.

ALL ELSE BEING equal this year, Republicans should do well enough to keep their comfortable majority in the U.S. House and get at least a 50-50 split in the Senate.

Shifting demographics in the voting population might upset conventional wisdom about the president’s party doing poorly in this midterm election, but you’d be foolish to bet on it.

The size of that Republican majority in the House will be determined by two things.

1) Whether turnout in places such as Illinois’ 17th District is low enough to give challengers like Republican Bobby Schilling a shot at avenging his 2012 loss to first-term incumbent Democrat Cheri Bustos. That race so far is a war being fought with press releases, which the media generally ignore.

2) Whether Republicans do something dumb between now and November to diminish their natural advantage. As we noted a few weeks ago, the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton in 1998 were designed to give Republicans additional momentum in the midterm election, but that political exercise had the opposite effect: Republicans picked up no seats in the Senate and lost five in the House.

Labor Day comes early this year – Sept. 1 – meaning the “official” campaign season is longer than normal.

That also means moderate House Republicans will have longer to suppress any brilliant ideas by their tea party faction about enhancing the party’s electoral success.

Should be fun to watch.

GOOD LUCK TO voters who think they’re going to get an honest answer from Quinn or Rauner on the state’s future budgets.

Fact is, everyone is going to get hurt by the devastating cuts in state spending that will have to be made over the next decade or so.

But no candidate wants to hurt voters just before an election.

So you will hear generalities about spending, uncertainties on taxes, and numbers that don’t add up.

The campaigns will eventually devolve into Quinn being called a dunce, Rauner being called a billionaire, and voters having to determine which is worse.

If you cannot decide, those are not your only choices.

The Constitution, Green, Libertarian and Independent parties also plan to have candidates for governor on the Nov. 4 ballot.

And the Socialist Workers Party has a write-in candidate.

Deadline for write-in candidates comes in September, so your choices will be many.

Though you might not consider them good.

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