Campus reacts to earlier Illinois primary

By Laura Ude

House Bill 426 was passed Wednesday which moves the primary election date for Illinois to the first Tuesday in February. State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson said the new date is good for Illinois because it gives the state the opportunity to have more of a national voice in the election.

“Several states are considering moving the primary to the same as Illinois,” Jakobsson said. “This gives the people of the Champaign-Urbana area the opportunity to participate in the primary while other states are also voting.”

Moving up the primary date should also encourage more voting because when it is later, there is less of an incentive, Jakobsson said.

In the upcoming election, pushing the primaries forward is particularly important for the Republican Party, political science professor Brian Gaines said. Because Sen. Barack Obama is favored to win for the Democratic Party in Illinois, the Democrats will not be spending time campaigning in the state, unlike the Republicans who have no front-runner, Gaines said.

“Illinois could be an interesting state because all the Republican candidates could go after Illinois or split up and go after other big states like New York,” Gaines said.

Political science professor Joseph Hinchliffe said that although residents will be more likely to vote with the earlier date because the election will still be competitive, it is hard to say precisely what this change will bring for the Champaign-Urbana area.

“Obama has been very successful in getting college students excited about his campaign,” Hinchliffe said. “Since there are a lot of college students in Champaign County, the timing of the primary is really not as important as is his participation in it.”

Students in College Democrats at the University now have to adjust to the earlier date, the group’s secretary Julien Baburka said.

“Now we have a shorter time to get people interested to vote because of the faster pace of the election,” Baburka said.

College Republicans President Kelly Solomon said that this election may possibly be harder for the Republicans in Champaign this time around because Obama is so popular and the primary is earlier.

“We’re going to have to start a lot sooner and be involved in a longer process,” Solomon said.