A polling station on Staten Island in 2022.Anna Watts for The New York Times

Young and active

In the 2018 elections — the midterms of Donald Trump’s presidency — turnout among younger voters surged. Almost twice as many people in their late 20s and early 30s voted that year as had done so in the midterms four years earlier. And they strongly backed Democratic candidates, helping the party retake control of Congress.
At the time, it was not clear whether the newfound political engagement of younger adults would last beyond Trump’s presidency. So far, though, it has — and it’s emerging as one of the biggest stories in American politics and a major advantage for the Democratic Party.
After each election, the data analysts at Catalist, a progressive research company, publish a post-mortem report based on months of analysis of election returns, voter files and other sources. A central theme of the latest report, covering the 2022 midterms, was that “Gen Z and millennial voters had exceptional levels of turnout,” as Catalist’s experts wrote. In the 14 states with heavily contested elections last year, turnout among younger voters rose even higher than it was in 2018.
This chart, by my colleague Ashley Wu, offers a nice way to see the trends:
Source: Catalist | By The New York Times
Since 2014, turnout among people born before 1950 has declined, mostly because more have died or been unable to get to the polls. (Experts refer to this dynamic euphemistically as “exiting the electorate.”) Turnout among middle-aged people rose, and turnout among young voters rose even more sharply.
Older Americans still vote at higher rates than younger Americans, but the gap has narrowed substantially over the past two decades.

Fear, not love

Why? Many younger voters have become more politically active because they fear for the country’s future. Those on the left — who are a majority of younger voters — worry about climate change, abortion access, the extremism of the Republican Party and more. Those on the right worry about secularization, political correctness, illegal immigration and more.
“What seems to be driving younger voters to the polls isn’t love, but anger,” Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report has written.
Source: Catalist | By The New York Times
Contrary to conventional wisdom, younger voters throughout U.S. history have not automatically been liberal. In 1984, Americans under 30 strongly backed Ronald Reagan’s re-election. In 2000, they split almost evenly between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
It’s true that people often become somewhat more conservative as they age (and millennials are following this pattern, as my colleague Nate Cohn explained). But the more significant factor is that generations tend to have distinct ideologies. People are shaped by the political zeitgeist during their adolescence, as research by Yair Ghitza, Andrew Gelman and Jonathan Auerbach has shown.
Americans who came of age during the Depression and New Deal, for example, leaned Democratic for their entire lives. Those who grew up during the Reagan era (many of whom are part of Generation X) lean to the right. In recent decades, major news events, including the Iraq war, the financial crisis, Barack Obama’s presidency and the chaos of Trump’s presidency, appear to have created a progressive generation.
For four straight national elections dating back to 2014, Democrats have won at least 60 percent of the vote among 18- to 29-year-olds. It’s longest such run of success since at least the 1970s, when Catalist’s data begins.
The pattern offers reason for Democratic optimism. Millennials and Generation Z are growing parts of the electorate, while older, more conservative generations are gradually exiting the electorate. Even in the short term, the age dynamics matter: A Republican will have a slightly harder time winning the presidency in 2024 than in 2020. In the long term, Republicans will struggle to win national elections unless they can appeal to more Americans born since 1980.

Still a contest

With all this said, a coming period of Democratic dominance is not guaranteed. The party has other weaknesses that could eventually alienate more millennial and Gen Z voters.
Another theme of the Catalist report is that working-class voters across races have recently drifted toward the Republican Party. Many of these less affluent voters seem bothered by the increasing social liberalism of the Democratic Party. Many younger voters are also not sure which party offers more promising economic policies.
These concerns help explain why Florida and Texas have remained solidly Republican, to the disappointment of Democrats. The chart below compares the Democratic Party’s performance by class and race in the past two midterm elections when a Democrat was in the White House.
Source: Catalist | Asian includes Pacific Islanders. | By The New York Times
I realize that the combination of trends is complex. The Democratic lean of Americans under 40, combined with their recent increase in voter turnout, has become a huge advantage for the party. Yet not all these voters are committed Democrats. Many identify as independents and are more conservative than the highly educated, affluent officials who dominate the Democratic Party and progressive groups.
In the competitive world of American politics, Democrats are in a stronger position than Republicans among younger voters, but the contest is not over.

Source: The New York Times

Indoor shot of handsome stressful overworked man covers face with palm, has displeased expression, dressed in casual clothes, poses against white background with copy space for your promotional textHave mercy if this list is woefully incomplete. The recently concluded session of the Illinois General Assembly sent a blizzard of some 560 bills to Gov. JB Pritzker for signature, so we certainly don’t know what all is in them (and most lawmakers don’t, either.)

Below, however, are some of the more foolish bills that caught our attention. Keep in mind that each will require Pritzker’s signature before becoming law.

What’s clear from the session is that progressives were unrestrained, passing laws supposedly providing government answers to whatever they see in the world that they don’t like. Take just the output of lawmakers from my area, for example, who are all progressives. Rep. Robin Gabel sponsored 65 bills and resolutions, 44 of which passed. Sen. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz sponsored 92, 61 of which passed. But Rep. Laura Fine beat them both – 203 of which 92 passed. That’s according to a compilation by the Daily Northwestern.

We’d like to hear from you if you know of others we missed:

Converting deserts to oases – at taxpayer expense. Don’t have a decent grocery store near your home? SB 0850 directs the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity to establish the “Grocery Initiative” to study “food deserts” in Illinois and give grants to grocery stores in those areas. This bill is a nice illustration of the statist mentality prevailing in the General Assembly. Illinois, being mostly rural or empty, is covered with deserts of all kinds – areas lacking a nearby pharmacy, dentist, car mechanic, public transit, healthcare specialists and countless other goods and services. Is it now the taxpayers’ obligation to assure that these are conveniently in reach for everybody?

Unknown cost of unfunded kindergarten mandate means unknown property tax increase. House Bill 2396 will require school districts around the state to provide full-day kindergarten by the 2027-2028 school year. Nice idea, provided the schools don’t extend their political indoctrination down to that level. But the bigger problem is the legislature didn’t bother to tell taxpayers or anybody else how much that will cost local school districts. Why bother when they can just impose another unfunded mandate? The Illinois Principal’s Association opposed the bill because of those unknown, unfunded costs.

Another mandate on schools – to enforce antiracism and anti-harassment. SB 0090 will make school districts liable for a civil rights violation if they “fail to take appropriate corrective action to stop harassment” or fail to comply with reporting requirements imposed by the bill. Along with the onerous reporting requirements, the bill lays out lengthy details on required anti-harassment and anti-racism training. The state will be required to produce a model training program.

Find more here.

Grocery Up

After an election cycle freeze on the state’s taxes for groceries and gasoline, the two taxes, among others, are set to increase beginning July 1.

Next month, the state’s gas tax will increase by 6.2 cents to a total tax of 45.4 cents, the second increase since Jan. 1. The state’s tax on groceries will also go back into effect after Gov. J.B. Pritzker put a hold on the tax during last year’s election cycle.

Bryce Hill of the Illinois Policy Institute said the gas tax has continued to increase since Pritzker has been in office.

“Previously, it used to be 19 cents in 2018,” Hill told The Center Square. “Beginning in July of 2019, he doubled that to 38 cents, and then he also indexed the gas tax to inflation, meaning that it automatically increases every year.”

Certain local municipalities can also set their tax on gas, which means some areas of the state will be paying even more on top of the already increased state tax.

“At the local level, on top of the gas tax, you have the ability for localities to tax gasoline, which many do,” Hill said.

Read more here.


Illinois may soon require all public school districts to front the costs of a full-day kindergarten program starting in 2027. There is no designated financial support from the state. Opponents said it’s not about a lack of desire or need, but the lack of funding.

A bill on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk could mandate every public school in Illinois to provide full-day kindergarten by 2027, despite offering no funding assistance or estimates on the costs to taxpayers.

House Bill 2396 would require school districts around the state to provide full-day kindergarten to families with children ages 4 to 6 by the 2027-2028 school year. The bill also creates a task force to estimate the costs to local taxpayers of implementing the mandate and to track enrollment.

Illinois previously only required schools to offer a half-day kindergarten program. A Chalkbeat analysis of Illinois State Board of Education data shows over 700 of the state’s 852 school districts already reported full-day kindergarten enrollments.

School districts that don’t already provide full-day kindergarten may need to raise local taxes to cover the costs of the new program. Those include building new classrooms and hiring more teachers, said Illinois Principals Association Government and Public Relations Director Alison Maley.

Maley said without money in the bill to help local school districts implement the mandate, it comes down to whether local taxpayers can afford it.

“It’s not for a lack of desire, it’s a lack of space, lack of resources, lack of staffing,” Maley said.

Read more here.

Spong Moth

Say hello to a male spongy moth, aka Lymantria dispar, with its remarkable bat-like antennae. – Getty Images

As a caterpillar, the invasive spongy moth consumes as much leaf tissue as it can, as fast as it can, threatening the lives of whole forests across the upper Midwest.

But Illinois continues to stand on the front lines when it comes to slowing the westward spread of this insect with a voracious appetite.

To protect our trees and contain the insect’s migration, county forest preserve districts are working with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to treat various natural areas in the greater Chicago region, including in Aurora, Lemont and Naperville.

Historically known as the “gypsy moth,” spongy moth caterpillars have a feeding period that lasts seven to 10 weeks through the spring and summer. A single spongy moth caterpillar can eat 11 square feet of vegetation during its lifetime, and its host plants include more than 300 tree and shrub species.

With the ability to completely strip trees bare year after year, spongy moths have the potential to severely affect trees and forests. But since an Illinois county was quarantined first — Lake County in 2000 — two types of prevention treatments have proved successful at holding the line, or least slowing it down.

The yearly treatments involve low-flying helicopters or yellow agricultural planes that release either a pesticide or a mating disruption agent.

Spraying of the insecticide, known as BTK or Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki, took place last month in areas in Aurora, Galena, Lemont and West Chicago. BTK solely affects caterpillars and is not toxic to people, animals or other insects. The insecticide has been used in the greater Chicago area since 1980.

While that means BTK kills all caterpillars and not just spongy moths, studies show the agent does not have long-lasting effects on native species, said Scott Schirmer, a plant regulatory official with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“We’re basically dumping a bucket of water on the spongy moth campfire. That area is going to be eliminated of spongy moths, but there’s going to be all the natives in the surrounding area that can basically backfill into that hole relatively quickly,” Shirmer said. “Studies show that the natives will repopulate or recolonize an area that’s been treated with BTK in a matter of a couple of years.”

Read more here.


Anthea Halpryn pulls her kayak through the mud at Oak Spring Road Canoe Launch in Libertyville and into the shallow Des Plaines River on May 18, 2023. “We ended up placing plywood over the mud the day before the (Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon),” said Jim Pechous, who scouted the water level for safety concerns. (Jim Pechous)

April showers brought the flowers, but May was parched.

Until Wednesday’s downpour at O’Hare International Airport, the city’s official observation site, Chicago was on track to record its second driest May ever. Instead it finished fourth.

Yet, the brief thunderstorm was isolated, which means many near the lakefront didn’t see a drop of rain.

Brett Borchardt, acting senior meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Chicago office, says it had been almost two months since O’Hare experienced a soaking rainfall. He noted that meteorological spring, which runs from March through May, was the ninth consecutive season with above normal temperatures. Borchardt likens the weather pattern with one we normally experience in midsummer due to the jet stream positioned “really far north in Canada, leaving us high and dry without weather systems,” he said.

Normally, Chicago gets about 4.5 inches of rain in May.

“Drought conditions are quickly developing,” he said. “Exasperating the quick drought development is the spring ‘green-up’ when plants suck up moisture from the ground to grow. We’ve started to notice that a real 4- and 8-inch soil moisture measurements are dropping fast, with corresponding drops in river streamflow rates.”

More here.



Chicago Bears officials met with Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli on Friday to discuss the possibility of abandoning their plans for a new stadium development in Arlington Heights in favor of building it in the western suburb.

In a move that could be used as bargaining leverage, the team said in a statement Friday that plans to build “the largest single development project in Illinois history” are “at risk” in Arlington Heights.

The Bears objected that recent tax hikes on the former Arlington Park racetrack, which the Bears bought this year, would result in taxes far higher than its worth while it is not operational.

“We will continue the ongoing demolition activity and work toward a path forward in Arlington Heights, but it is no longer our singular focus,” team officials wrote. “It is our responsibility to listen to other municipalities in Chicagoland about potential locations that can deliver on this transformational opportunity for our fans, our club and the state of Illinois.”

The organization maintains plans to build an enclosed stadium with accompanying entertainment and residential development in Arlington Heights is not a done deal. There remains outstanding questions on the team getting certainty on property tax limits and public subsidies to help build infrastructure for the project.

Those uncertainties led Wehrli to send a letter May 24 to Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren in which the mayor acknowledged the team’s commitment to developing and operating its own stadium, which “is essential for on-field success and pursuing championships.”

“I would like to formally introduce our community to your organization as you consider or reassess your planned relocation,” wrote the new Naperville mayor, who was elected this spring and took office a month ago.

Read more here.

CTFP2023Learn about and celebrate the different facets of the Forest Preserves through animal encounters, arts and crafts, and much more Sunday, June 4th from 11AM to 3PM – 3 Stover Rd, Barrington Hills.

Contact info: 847.381.6592 or Crabtree.NatureCenter@cookcountyil.gov.

July 1 race


“Start your Independence Day holiday weekend with a run through the Hills!…or walk, if you prefer!

The Village of Barrington Hills, together with Cuba Township, is hosting its 3rd annual Land We Love Run   on Saturday, July 1st! The 10K run, 5K run/walk or the 2-mile walk will begin at 7:30 AM.

Register today to take advantage of the early bird rate!

Race proceeds will benefit Folds of Honor and the Cuba Township Food Pantry.

Finishers’ medals will be awarded to seven age groups for the 5K and 10K. Additional awards include Best Costume and Most Donated Items for the Food Pantry.” – From the VBH Website


Despite statehouse corruption on full display with guilty verdicts against four individuals in the “ComEd Four” bribery trial, Illinois legislators left Springfield without sweeping ethics reforms.

A former Commonwealth Edison executive and three lobbyists, one being a close confidant of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, were convicted last month. The scheme involved giving do-nothing jobs to Madigan associates in exchange for favorable legislation for the utility. Madgian has pleaded not guilty and faces trial next spring.

Early Saturday morning just before the budget was approved, state Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said it’s “crazy” to leave town without addressing the issue.

“Four convictions all swirling around the person that presided at this rostrum, at this dias, for 38 years and we as a legislature are adjourning without doing anything on the topic of ethics reforms,” Spain said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said prosecutors have the tools they need to catch corrupt actors.

“Everybody that’s been tried and now convicted is being tried and convicted with laws that are already on the books,” Pritzker said during an unrelated event last week.

More can be done though, he conceded.

“And I think that there is as I have seen an effort to address red-light camera contributions,” Pritzker said.

House Bill 3903 will establish ethical parameters and guidelines for how the technology can be used and how the industry interacts with state and local elected officials. Among other regulations, one element prohibits contractors for such technology from making political donations.

More here.

%d bloggers like this: