Governor's race in full swing, even if voters are not

By Matt Porter |

Published 07/30 2014 11:06PM

Updated 07/31 2014 10:38AM

ILLINOIS -- Three months remain until the election and both gubernatorial candidates are already in the campaign swing, even if voters are still in vacation mode. Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, have already shown their willingness to go negative, but experts say this is only the beginning of what could be a hard-fought campaign.

The race for governor ends in 97 days, and some, like recent college graduate Ryan Larimore, have already made their choice.

“I would say it’s very safe for me just because Governor Quinn is a big jobs person and, as someone who is trying to start a career, that’s very important to me,” Larimore said.

But most voters, including Hannah Schafer, are still on vacation.

“Honestly, for me it’s a little too early,” Schafer said. “I would like to say ‘yes’ that would be the right answer.”

Election expert and professor of political science at the University of Illinois-Springfield Ron Michaelson said the last three months of a campaign are crucial because most voters haven't made a choice.

“Most average people in Illinois really aren’t clued into politics right now,” Michaelson said. “It’s still summer vacation, and school hasn’t started.”

However, he said the election cycle has started early as people vote earlier.

“With early voting now, things are just accelerated and stuff starts to get serious,” Michaelson said.

The Illinois gubernatorial campaign is slated to be the most expensive ever with candidates already spending money on radio and TV ads.

“They’ve already started even though most people aren't going to pay attention until much later,” he said.

All the early advertising could have a downside.

“People just get turned off by the incessant commercials which they see time and time and time again, many of which are negative,” Michaelson said.

Governor Quinn’s administration could also be involved in two corruption hearings in October, just weeks before the election. It's a factor Michaelson said could throw a late curveball into a very close race.

Ultimately, he said the winning candidate may be the one turning out the majority of their base since midterm elections tend to be less popular than presidential years.

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