Illinois ties for last in presidential campaign attention

Posted on October 30, 2005
FairVote today released in Illinois its new report Who Picks the President? The report analyzes major party candidate visits and campaign spending in the peak season of the 2004 presidential campaign. No resources were spent in 23 states. Illinois has more voters than any other state completely ignored by the major party presidential campaigns and their allies.

 “Illinois is completely ignored,” said FairVote chairman and former Illinois Republican Congressman John B. Anderson. “Long gone are the days when Illinois mattered in presidential races.”

By compiling ads and visits for the last five weeks of the 2004 presidential campaign, FairVote found Florida alone had more ads than 45 states and the District of Columbia combined. With just 6% of the population, 27% of ad money from candidates and issue groups was spend to influence their vote.  In total, just three states – Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – received a majority of ad spending and 45% of presidential and vice presidential candidate visits.  These three states account for 14% of the US population.

Using this data, FairVote created an Attention Index, which would be one if every voter were treated equally. In fact, only 14 states scored better than one. The bottom 37 states (and DC) only reached a score of 0.69.  Fully 18 states had a score of zero, indicating they got absolutely no attention at all – including Illinois and most of the nation’s small population states.

 “When I represented Illinois in Congress in the 70s and when I ran for president in 1980, we enjoyed a lot of attention from presidential candidates. We were able to talk about issues that mattered to us. Now we join the majority of the country and must watch from the sidelines,” said Anderson, who received 7% of the national vote in 1980 when running for president as an independent.

Texas and Illinois came in last when the Attention Index was factored by population. California and New York didn’t do much better, each receiving a score of 0.03 on the Attention Index.  Combined these states make up 31% of the country.

FairVote also examined the impact on small states, those thought to be protected by the Electoral College. They found small states are also given less than their share of attention.  Only states with over 15 electoral votes were given extra attention, but even these had low median scores – highlighting the fact that a few states get incredible amounts of attention while others get none.

Who Picks the President? is the second in a series of FairVote reports on presidential elections and the Electoral College. Its Shrinking Battleground report, released in July, demonstrated that the number of battleground states has steadily dwindled, dropping nearly in half in the past 50 years.

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