MOUNT VERNON – Democrats Jo Beth Weber of Mount Vernon and Brad Bleyer of Marion campaigned fiercely for the Fifth District appellate court, but sank under the weight of rural resentment against presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Election results in the state’s 37 southern-most counties, which comprises the Fifth District, tell the story.
Weber captured 46 percent against Republican Randy Moore of Carterville, and Bleyer captured 44 percent against Republican John Barberis of St. Jacob.
The numbers for Weber and Bleyer look puny in comparison to previous Fifth District elections, but they look robust next to Clinton’s 33 percent.
Outside of St. Clair and Madison counties, Clinton scored 25 percent.
She scored below 25 percent in 24 of the district’s 37 counties, and scored below 20 percent in half of those.
She hit rock bottom at 13 percent in Wayne County and Edwards County, east of Mount Vernon.
Bleyer repaired some of the damage in the 35 rural counties, capturing 1.48 votes for every Clinton vote.
He won three rural counties that Clinton lost.
Bleyer nearly doubled her vote at home, in Williamson County, where he scored 54 percent and she scored 27 percent.
He scored 58 percent in Alexander County, at the southern tip of the state, where she scored 44 percent.
He scored 52 percent in Pulaski County, east of Alexander County, where she scored 36 percent.
Bleyer almost won Franklin County, south of Mount Vernon, scoring 49 percent where she scored 25 percent.
Weber repaired even more damage in the 35 rural counties, winning 1.57 votes for every Clinton vote.
In five counties, Weber more than doubled Clinton’s votes.
In those counties, and probably in others, Weber won more votes from people who chose Donald Trump for president than she won from Clinton voters.
Wayne County perfectly illustrates Weber’s vote problem.
She won more than five votes there for every two Clinton votes, yet all that ballot splitting lifted her only to 34 percent.
Heavy ballot splitting in Edwards County lifted her only to 32 percent.
In Jefferson County, her home, she scored 68 percent with 11,177 votes, while Clinton scored 26 percent with 4,408 votes.
In Hamilton County, south of Wayne County, Weber lost by 26 votes while Clinton scored 19 percent and lost by 2,405 votes.
In Jasper County, east of Effingham, Clinton scored 17 percent and Weber scored 40 percent.
Clinton won two Fifth District counties, without a majority in either.
In Jackson County, home of Southern Illinois University, Clinton scored 47 percent, Bleyer scored 61 percent, and Weber scored 58 percent.
In St. Clair County, where Clinton scored 49.8 percent, Weber scored 55 percent and Bleyer scored 54 percent.
Neither Weber nor Bleyer could overcome Clinton’s failure in vote-rich Madison County.
Clinton scored 39 percent there, Weber 49 percent, and Bleyer 46 percent.
Counties where Clinton scored less than 20 percent: Clay, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Hamilton, Hardin, Jasper, Johnson, Pope, Washington, Wayne, White.
Counties where Clinton scored 20 to 25 percent: Clinton, Crawford, Franklin, Gallatin, Lawrence, Massac, Perry, Randolph, Richland, Saline, Shelby, Wabash.