Did Racism Cost Trump Delegates In Illinois?

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Blake Neff Reporter
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Donald Trump appears to have lost out on a few delegates he probably should have won in Illinois, all because GOP voters were apparently wary of voting for people with unusual names like Nabi Fakroddin.

In Illinois, only a handful of delegates were awarded based on the statewide primary vote (which Trump easily won). Instead, most were awarded at the congressional district level, with voters selecting from a big slate of prospective delegates tied to particular candidates. Unsurprisingly, in most districts the same candidate won all three delegates, unless the contest was extremely close.

But a few glaring exceptions exist. One is in the state’s Sixth District, where prospective Trump delegates Paul Minch and Barbara Kois easily took the top two spots with just over 35,000 votes apiece, finishing several thousand votes ahead of the competition. But third place was taken by Kasich supporter Patrick Brady, instead of by the third Trump supporter.

That supporter, Nabi Fakroddin, finished way back in sixth place, with only about 30,600 votes. In other words, about one-seventh of the Sixth District’s Trump backers backed two of his prospective delegates but skipped out on the third one. While every district saw noticeable gaps between the strongest and weakest prospective delegates for each candidate, Fakroddin’s deficit was substantially larger than most.

It’s not immediately clear why Fakroddin fared so badly. Fakroddin had to resign from a Chicago government post back in 2013 because he was improperly serving on two boards at once, but that hardly seems like the kind of high-profile incident voters would immediately remember years later. The most reasonable explanation may be that voters were simply put off, consciously or unconsciously, by Fakroddin’s odd name.

Another unusual case is the Thirteenth District, where Trump backer Doug Hartmann finished comfortably in first with almost 32,000 votes, but the next three spots were all filled with Cruz backers. The two Trump backers who failed to be chosen, Toni Gauen and Raja Sadiq, both have more “foreign” names. Sadiq finished with just 24,000 votes, barely three-quarters of what Hartmann received. A Google search reveals no immediate reason, other than their names, that Gauen and especially Sadiq fared so much worse than Hartmann, as they all appear to be ordinary citizens without a history in electoral politics or public office.

Of course, xenophobia isn’t the only possible explanation in play. Gaps between prospective delegates may also have emerged due to voter error (such as voters only selecting a single option instead of three) or intentional decisions by some voters to split their tickets between different candidates.

Name recognition itself could be a wild card as well. In the Sixteenth District, Cruz backer Tim Covins crushes the field and outpaces his fellow Cruz backers, perhaps buoyed by the fact he is a local state senator. Not only that, but in the same district a Jeb Bush delegate got a whopping 19,000 votes, even though Bush dropped out weeks ago, because that delegate happened to be U.S. House member Adam Kinzinger.

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