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Illinois Democrats Lower Expectations of Gains

A couple weeks earlier, two Democratic outside groups jointly released a poll that showed Schneider and Dold tied at 46 percent in the overwhelmingly Democratic 10th district. They wanted to show
Schneider remains competitive even though Republicans, including Dold, have been airing ads in the race.   

But Republicans feel most confident about the districts in downstate Illinois - specifically Schilling's race, as well as the open seats in the 12th and 13th districts.

"The farther you get away from Chicago, the more reticence you see with Obama and his policies," said Guy Harrison, executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "They had the opportunity to sock away two or three wins, and instead, they tried to reach for the brass ring. And I think they're going to fall short."

Democrats could not foresee many of these problems - such as the retirements of Costello, who would have been a lock for re-election, and Johnson, a Republican who had not faced a tough race for many cycles. As a result, Democrats are on track to spend more money in Illinois than they had hoped.

The DCCC has reserved more than
$6 million in airtime across the state and is already airing spots in the 12th, 13th and 17th districts. The Services Employees International Union and House Majority PAC, a super PAC, have reserved an additional $2.4 million in airtime for the remaining competitive House seats around Chicago - the 8th, 10th and 11th districts.

The NRCC reserved about the same amount of airtime ?- $6 million - as the DCCC. House Republicans started airing spots in the 13th and 17th districts this weekend. Additionally, two conservative outside groups, New Prosperity Foundation and YG Action Fund, have made six-figure buys in several House districts on behalf of GOP candidates.

All of this cash goes a long way in Illinois, which will likely not see any campaign spending from the presidential race in its in-state media markets. Democrats said this gives their candidates a better shot to break through to voters in the final two months.

"What's unique about Illinois is that these Congressional races are the whole ball of wax in this election," said Ann Liston, a Democratic media consultant in Chicago.

Still, many of these House races remain too close for comfort for Democrats.

"We could talk the day after the election about being anywhere from three out of six, to six for six," Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said last week. "They are that close."

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