By Zoe McClain
As Election Day approaches on Nov. 8, voters are getting closer to casting their ballots and making their voices heard on the candidates and policies they support. In Illinois, all eyes are on the gubernatorial race between Gov. JB Pritzker and State Sen. Darren Bailey. The two candidates fall on starkly contrasting sides of issues voters are most concerned about.
Pritzker vs. Bailey
According to an analysis of Google search data, Bailey has led in search in Illinois for the majority of October. In spite of this, Bailey is lagging behind in the polls, with a recent WGN poll putting Pritzker at 9 points ahead (50%-41%).
Bailey has been the subject of many controversies during his campaign for governor, including establishing residence in Chicago after referring to the city as a “hellhole,” telling residents to “move on” less than two hours after the Highland Park shooting on July 4, and his past remarks on the tragedy of the Holocaust falling short of “the life that has been lost with abortion.”
These actions and remarks have made for a large presence in the news for Bailey, which may point to the high interest reflected in Illinoisans’ searches. However, after their last televised debate, WGN reported Bailey gained five percentage points since late September compared to Pritzker’s single-point gain, perhaps alluding to increasing voter support as a driver of search numbers.
What Do Voters Care About?
Education and crime have remained Illinois voters’ top concerns in the month leading up to Election Day, as supported by another analysis of Google search data. Inflation and abortion are steadily represented in search data as well, aside from the former’s peak on Oct. 13th — likely due to the U.S. Consumer Price Index report released that day.
Top queries regarding education pertain to the Illinois State Board of Education. The department recently released school district data via an annual report card which showcased many districts’ rates of students on track to graduate below the state average.
Those regarding crime primarily represent interest in crime rates in the city of Chicago. Interestingly, rates of search term popularity by combined statistical area — or “metro” — are highest in Rockford, Ill., followed closely by Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, Ill. Chicago ranks 9th on the list of areas concerned about crime.