Weak Chicago Primary Voter Turnout a ‘Warning Sign’ for Biden Campaign

In August, Chicago will play a key role in President Joe Biden’s reelection bid as he’s set to accept the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination in the populous Midwestern city.

But if last week’s primary vote count in Chicago is any indication, Biden will have to continue working to engage voters — especially young voters — in what will be a tough reelection bid against former President Donald Trump.

Given its strong Democratic tilt, Biden is basically assured of winning Cook County — which includes Chicago and many of its suburbs — by an overwhelming margin this November. In the 2020 election, Biden won more than 1.7 million votes in Cook County compared to roughly 558,000 votes for Trump.

Last week, Biden was on the ballot for a noncompetitive race where his nomination as the party’s standard-bearer wasn’t in question. (So far, Biden has won roughly 427,000 votes in Cook County.)

Still, in swing-state cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, the vote margins that come out of these Democratic strongholds will be critical for Biden.

And the low primary turnout in Chicago could be an indicator of looming issues that the Biden campaign will have to address in other cities to emerge victorious in November, according to top Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.

“Illinois is a state that has apparatus and really has deep roots in the community. I think they just weren’t turned on for this election, but it’s a warning sign to other places,” she told The Chicago Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles.

“It’s a warning sign for Detroit, where it will matter,” she continued. “It’s a warning sign for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.”

Lake also stressed the role that cities have played in generating the sort of turnout that Democrats generally need to overcome the GOP’s rural edge in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania.

“These cities need to be engines of turnout,” she said.

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