Illinois’s 10th District: How the Left Blew It

In the run-up to Tuesday’s vote, progressive organizations needled their donors again and again. Want to show up the establishment? Want to elect a progressive? Back Ilya Sheyman, a 25-year-old MoveOn vet, in Illinois’s 10th district. “As you’re covering the Illinois primary tonight, take note of the Democratic primary in Illinois’ 10th District, in the Chicago suburbs just north of the city,” wrote Michael Uehlein on Tuesday, emailing reporters on behalf of MoveOn. “This race looks to be a bellwether for Democratic voters in 2012 and is the first big progressive/Blue Dog showdown of the cycle.” The Progressive Campaign Change Committee sent out a memo boasting of the work it had done.

Raised more than $130,000 in small-dollar donations (avg. is $10.09) for progressive Ilya Sheyman –  making PCCC the largest fundraiser for Ilya Sheyman.
Made over 30,000 volunteer phone calls to targeted Democratic voters in the IL-10,using our national online Call Out The Vote tool at CallOutTheVote.com
Mobilized our 2,600 PCCC members in the IL-10 to vote and volunteer.
Helped the campaign fund a cutting-edge $20,000 online ad program in the final weeks with over 2.7 million impressions, the equivalent of 900 Gross Rating Points targeted at key voters.

All that, and Sheyman got stomped. He lost by 8 points. Public Policy Polling, which had released the surveys that showed Sheyman winning, scrawled out an apology on a hairshirt. Daniel Mintz, MoveOn’s director of coordinated campaigns, told me that the group had 15,000 members in the district, and spent $90,000 for Sheyman. What happened?

“Turnout was epically low,” he said. “There were 33,000 votes cast. In 2010 that number was 53,000. Basically, nobody showed up.”

Was in a loss? It depends. “It was fought on our turf,” said Mintz. “If you look at [victor Brad] Schneider’s campaign when he started, it was all about Israel. He was a big supporter of Israel. Frankly, some people were expecting the race to happen in the context of the US-Israel discussion. Instead of that, he ran on this message: ‘I’m the real progressive.’ The word PROGRESSIVE was splattered on every piece of mail he spent out.” And that’s a plus, because Israel won’t matter as much in the Fall; the district is “less Jewish than it was before redistricting.”

In an e-mail, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee pushed out the same message, the same reasons for defeat. “Ilya’s main opponent used the final few days to spread things that were blatantly untrue, but possibly persuasive – such as literature implying President Obama (the hometown favorite) endorsed him. The Republican presidential primary dominated the Illinois news coverage in the final days, making it less likely that media would debunk lies in the congressional race.”