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Things to look for on election night

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Evanston, which once routinely elected Republicans to office, has become a reliable Democratic stronghold in recent years.

Perhaps nothing better illustrates that than the results from the 2008 presidential election, when Barack Obama won 87 percent of the votes cast in Evanston– or 31,046 votes to just 4,158 for John McCain. Five minor party candidates split the rest, with Ralph Nader coming in third as the presidential choice of 148 Evanstonians.

So it will be interesting to watch, as the results come in Tuesday night, to see whether the president and other Democrats will match their margins, or those of their predecessors, among Evanston voters from their past campaigns.

U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky faced her toughest challenge of her congressional career last time, winning two-thirds of the vote district-wide against a youthful conservative challenger, Joel Pollak.

In Evanston, Schakowsky drew 81 percent of the vote last time, compared to 84 percent in 2008, when she faced Michael Younan.

Although redistricting has added more suburban, and likely more conservative voters who may not be familiar with her to the 9th District this year, Schakowsky is still considered likely to coast to victory.

In 2010 Pollak managed to raise nearly half as much money as Schakowsky did for the campaign, but this year's Republican challenger, Tim Wolfe, has raised pennies for every dollar in Schakowsky's war chest.

In the 9th State Senate District, Democrat Daniel Biss is seeking to move up from the state house and faces Republican Glenn Farkas. When retiring State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg faced Republican Brendan Appel in 2008, Schoenberg ended up with 70 percent of the vote.

In the 17th State House District, Democrat Laura Fine is facing Republican Kyle Frank for the chance to take over the seat now occupied by Daniel Biss. Biss defeated Hamilton Chang with 55 percent of the vote in the 17th in 2010.

In the 18th State House District, Robyn Gabel faces her first general election challenger in Republican Eric Lieberman. Gabel was appointed to her seat in 2010 after scoring a narrow victory in a five-candidate Democratic primary when Julie Hamos resigned to take a job in the Quinn administration and Gabel faced no Republican candidate in the 2010 general election. And Hamos had faced no Republican challenger in 2008.

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