The scramble for voter turn-out is on in Illinois.
Before flying off for Ohio and more campaigning, the President wanted breakfast to-go. So, a stop at the Valois Cafeteria on the city's Southside was in order. Picking up the check for Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, President Obama said, "I feel great. We've got good turn-out. Pat's gonna win. Alexi's gonna win. That's why turn-out is so important."
Giannnoulias and his Republican rival Mark Kirk have been neck and neck in the polls for months. A turn-out contest is the only option for either side.
And turn-out is the entire reason President Obama returned to Illinois for a third campaign visit on behalf of Giannoulias. Organizers says 35,000 people turned-out to hear the President urge them not just to vote, but also to volunteer...and now.
"We need you to work to help get everybody out to vote because if everybody who fought for change in 2008 shows up in 2010, we will win this election," the President told the cheering crowd.
Early voting numbers suggest replicating 2008 will be impossible. Cook County officials put early voting at around 72,000 only a third of the early vote total two years ago.
Still, the focus is on getting as many voters to the polls as possible. The DNC announced today it distributed $2.67 million to state party organizations for get-out-the-vote efforts. Biggest recipient? The Illinois Democratic Party got $950,000. That's twice as much as the Florida Democratic Party recieved and triple the amounts given to Pennsylvania and Ohio. So, as priorities go, Illinois is still a top race for the party of the President.
There are reports the President's team frets about the Illinois Senate race. One White House official did ask me last night who would win the contest. My answer was it was too close to say. One Republican insider today said the contest was indeed "very, very close."
That same GOP'er was not happy with the resources (RE: money) available for the Republican effort to get out Illinois votes. The source indicating things in the Land of Lincoln would be going better had the Republican National Committee not had money problems.
The RNC has ruffled feathers with some long-time faithful who claim chairman Michael Steele has not done the job raising money and they are not happy with the distribution of donations for down-the-stretch campaigning.
The Republican insider thinks Kirk's still going to win...provided the turn-out's there.
Steve Brown is an author, radio broadcaster and seminary professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.