Statewide elected officials
Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry carried Illinois with 54% of the vote. His victory in Illinois was determined by a wide margin of votes cast in Cook County. However, many counties outside of the Chicago metropolitan area voted for President Bush. Illinois is a state put in an odd position in most Presidential elections; Chicago typically overwhelmingly supports Democratic candidates, while the majority of the state has a fairly conservative culture. Several of the notable "downstate" blue spots that contributed to Kerry's win include East Saint Louis, the Quad City region, Peoria, and Champaign and Jackson counties, which have a large college-bound population.
The 2008 Presidential election featured Democratic candidate, and Illinois native, Barack Obama facing off against US Senator John McCain. Barack Obama carried Illinois by a much bigger margin than Kerry did in 2004. Obama won Illinois with 61% of the vote. In addition to carrying major urban centers, Obama surprisingly won a number of rural counties as well. Prior to his election to President, he represented the state in the US Senate since January 2005.