Democratic challenger Brad Schneider defeats incumbent Republican Bob Dold in tight race

Dold conceded Tuesday night in a race with less than 1 percent margin

November 7, 2012

Quinn Ford and the Associated Press

(WBEZ/Quinn Ford)
Republican Congressman Bob Dold appears on WBEZ's The Afternoon Shift.
(WBEZ/Quinn Ford)
Democratic candidate Brad Schneider appears on WBEZ's The Afternoon Shift.

One-term U.S. Rep. Bob Dold conceded Tuesday night to Democrat Brad Schneider in an extremely tight race for the congressional seat in the 10th district, which covers some of Chicago's northern suburbs. Polls had consistently shown the race as a toss-up, although some later polls predicted a Dold victory.

When Dold gave his concession speech Tuesday night, returns were reflecting a margin of less than 3,000 votes between the two candidates - that's a margin of less than one percent.

Both candidates had presented themselves as moderate businessmen, a title that’s proven successful in the past in this upscale, but complex North Shore district. And more than $6.3 million of independent outside money flowed into the race, according to the campaign watchdog group the Sunlight Foundation. Most of that money benefited Dold.

But in remarks to supporters Tuesday night, Dold said his campaign "came up short."


Both candidates had mounted aggressive campaigns, making hundreds of thousands of voter calls. Both also tried to portray themselves as being able to work with both parties.

The 10th district covers Chicago’s northern suburbs and extends to the Wisconsin border, hugging Lake Michigan. The district was redrawn last year and is now slightly more Democratic, excluding congressional Republican strongholds like Winnetka and Kenilworth.

Democrats have long tried to recapture the 10th district. They have not held the seat since 1979, when Abner Mikva stepped down to become a judge on the Federal Court of Appeals.

Gregg Durham,  of We Ask America, said the voters in the 10th district are known for being independent.

“They are among the most interesting voters that we’ve ever polled anywhere in the U.S.,” Durham said.

He said that’s because 10th district voters are known as ticket splitters. Obama won the district in 2008, and Durham said his most recent polls show that’s how it’s leaning again.

But the same voters have also had a Republican in Congress for the last 33 years. Durham said the Republicans who held the seat -- John Porter, Mark Kirk and currently Bob Dold - won with a reputation for being fiscally conservative but socially moderate. Durham said voters like that reputation.

“They don’t like the extremes. That district does not like anyone way on either side of the fence,” Durham said. “You know, if they were golfers they’d be hitting the ball down the middle all day long.”

Of course, that was the old district. The new district 10 contains both wealthy and working class communities like Lake Forest, North Chicago, Mundelein, Deerfield, Vernon Hills, Waukegan, Grayslake, Highland Park, Buffalo Grove and Zion.