CHICAGO - The people of Illinois are feeling particularly gloomy about their state, with its high unemployment, billions of dollars in debt, decades-long battles against corruption — and another possible tax hike waiting for them after the November election.
The bad mood surfaces in public-opinion polls that startle even the pollsters, with one survey showing that more people want to leave Illinois than anywhere else in the U.S. It’s also evident in the voting booth, where turnout in the March primary was the lowest on record. Now the cynicism is shaping one of the nation’s most competitive governor’s races, too.
“People are down in the dumps,” said Rod Spears, a retired Army officer and conservative activist from southern Illinois who says he hears the same concerns from his golfing buddies, all union members and lifelong Democrats.
The governor’s contest essentially boils down to the incumbent’s insistence that it’s not as bad as it used to be versus the challenger’s exhortations to throw the bums out and start over.