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How does an Issue become a Campaign Issue?

Illinois Candidates’ Issues and National Issue Lists

How DOES an issue become a campaign issue? I’m still trying to find out. This blog only asks the question and includes some primary data about the current Congressional campaign issues.

It is not too late to make Food a campaign issue in Illinois in 2012. Illinois residents can now take the NATIONAL Food Vote 2012 Survey, a new and improved version of the Illinois pilot.

SURVEY LINK: Food Vote 2012: National U.S. Survey

This blogpost contains:

1. Survey Responses Update
2. Analysis: Candidates Websites and Issues
3. Questions about National Issues Lists


Currently the Illinois Food Vote 2012 survey has received no information from 4 of our Illinois Congressional districts (18 in total, based on the redistricting for this election). The four districts (with major cities and towns) are:

Cong. District #2: Kankakee, Park Forest, Dolton
(Chicago’s far south suburbs to Indiana line), south to Chebanse, west to Reddick)
Cong. District #3: Romeoville, Lockport, Burbank, Oak Lawn
(southwest from Chicago, southwest suburbs to Fairmont)
Cong. District #15: Effingham, Danville, Charleston, Lawrenceville
(most of the southeast quarter of Illinois)
Cong. District #17: Freeport, Rockford, Quad Cities, Galesburg, Peoria, Pekin
(much of Illinois northeast corner)

If you are not sure which district you are in, check out this website which shows the 18 individual districts overlaid on an Illinois map. This is a Will County website, but it’s the best, most user-friendly display of ALL 18 districts.

2. Candidates’ Websites and Issues

There are 34 candidates running for the 18 seats (1 dropped out for health reasons in May).

Of those 34 candidates, 4 are running unopposed (Districts 1 – Rush, 4 – Gutierrez, and 7 – D. Davis, 12 – Plummer). Two districts (8 and 17) have 3-way races.

Websites. Of the 34 candidates, 4 do not have campaign websites (including the 3 incumbents running unopposed, Rush, Gutierrez, D. Davis). The fourth is an independent challenger in Dist. 8 (Canfield).

Issue List. Of the 30 candidates with campaign websites, 21 currently post a list of their priority campaign issues. 9 do not, including 3 incumbents who, presumably, are running on their records and popularity (Dist. 6, 9, 18).

Food not on Issue Lists. Of the 21 candidates who currently have a list of issues, none list Food. Here is a cursory analysis of some issues that candidates do list that might or might not be related to Food and how many candidates list such issues. I have not had time to analyze their statements about individual issues. (Issue labels are taken directly from candidates’ websites.)

Agriculture/Energy and Agriculture/Agriculture and Rural Development: 4
Health Care/Health Care Reform/Better Health Care: 17
Economy/Jobs: 21
Environment/Energy & Environment/Energy, Gas & Environment: 10


To put things in perspective, copied below are two lists of national issues of comparable length (20 issues and 24 issues). One list is from a national election watch website (On the Issues). The other list is the new American Grants and Loans Catalog, containing 2800 “financial programs, subsidies, scholarships, grants, and loans” offered by the US federal government.

Can you tell which list is which?
Can you explain the disconnect between campaign issues and federal government programs?
Can you explain the disconnect between Illinois candidates’ issues and the programs that some (incumbents) have helped to put in place, presumably to address real needs by real people in real communities?

List #1
Business and Commerce
Community Development
Consumer Protection
Cultural Affairs
Disaster Prevention and Relief
Employment, Labor and Training
Environmental Quality
Food and Nutrition
Income Security and Social Services
Information and Statistics
Law, Justice, and Legal Services
Natural Resources
Regional Development
Science and Technology

List #2
Budget & economy
Civil Rights
Energy & Oil
Families & Children
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Government Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Infrastructure & Technology
Principles & Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War & Peace
Welfare and Poverty