A little perspective may be in order. Lots of political junkies, media types, etc., went ga-ga after last Monday's Chicago Tribune editorial board face-off between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and state Rep. Jeanne Ives.
By last Tuesday morning, 28,000 Facebook users had viewed the first segment of the debate. Several more likely watched the forum on the Tribune's website. Just 7,500 watched Part Two on Facebook, while 6,000 watched Part Three.
It's important to remember that average voters pay almost infinitely less attention to state politics as they do national politics, when half the country typically tunes in to debates. Although 28,000 Facebook views sounds pretty respectable, and it is, about 820,000 people voted in the 2014 Republican gubernatorial primary. And Facebook has come under fire in recent months for counting a video as being "viewed" after a mere three seconds.
That's not to say Rep. Ives didn't help herself with her almost complete thumping of Gov. Rauner. She most certainly did.
Two days after their joint appearance, I gave a speech to about 75 people who were in Springfield for a state legislative conference. Just by dint of being at that conference, those folks demonstrated that they were interested in state government.
So, I asked them who had watched the debate. Just two people raised their hands. I asked who had read or seen news coverage of the debate. Only about 10 people raised their hands.
Remember, these folks were in Springfield for a legislative conference. Their interest in state stuff is far greater than the average Illinoisan.
It's entirely possible, though, that Ives' performance could help prime the pump to bring in more cash from small and large donors.
And speaking of money, Rep. Ives reported receiving $500,000 from former Rauner supporter Dick Uihlein last week. By the end of the week, the Ives campaign said it would start running two different TV ads.
One of Ives’ new ads is a real doozy, featuring various people “thanking” Gov. Rauner for things like “paying for my abortions” and also has a man dressed as a woman saying: "Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls' bathroom."
As I write this, it’s unclear if that explosive ad will air, but if it does it will certainly get noticed.
A week of Chicago broadcast TV ads costs about $660,000, and Illinois has a ton of other media markets from Rockford all the way down to the Kentucky border.
The last public poll in this race showed that 68 percent of likely Republican primary voters had never even heard of Jeanne Ives. Gov. Rauner was leading Ives by 45 points in that survey and he is refusing to ever debate her again. So, it's gonna take a lot more than a few thousand Facebook views, a day of positive earned media coverage and a million bucks to put Rep. Ives over the top. A lot more.
Weirder stuff has most certainly happened in politics. But people should take a breath and see how this all plays out before making any sort of predictions.