Sen. KirkDemocratic candidates looking to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk may want to focus on a few particular areas of the state.
One smaller area of interest is Kirk’s old Congressional district in the north suburbs of Chicago. Scott Kennedy of says in the 2010 race, Kirk’s 60,000-vote margin was helped by attracting voters in that district who also supported Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn in the same election.
“There, you saw a fairly affluent, somewhat progressive, high information voters. People that had a relationship with Mark Kirk and were willing to trust him,” Kennedy said. “That is certainly a battleground.”
Kennedy, who was deputy campaign manager for the Democrat who lost to Kirk, former Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, thinks U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates) can make some headway into the area due to her district’s proximity, and by attracting more female voters.
Another key for the Democratic nominee, whether its Duckworth, or former Chicago Urban League president Andrea Zopp, is to improve on the party’s recent dismal showings downstate.
“Democrats don’t have to win downstate to win the election, they just have to perform above a certain level that’s non-terrible,” Kennedy said.
That didn’t happen in 2010, when the proportion of downstate votes for Democrats was at an all-time low.
Kennedy says Democrats will be helped by the increased interest due to the presidential race, which he says typically boosts turnout from 50 percent in midterm elections to around 70 percent.

“It’s certainly not a guaranteed blue state,” Kennedy warned, adding that Kirk has shown he’s the type of Republican capable of winning statewide.