With a yearly income of less than $20,000, Ninette Weaver is not the typical Republican – but she may be the norm in DeKalb County.
Republicans with less than average incomes seem to be the norm in the county. Although residents make less money than the state average, they have historically voted more Republican.
In 1999, the county’s median household income was $45,828 compared to the state average of $46,590, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Web site.
Despite the lower average incomes, DeKalb County residents have historically been more conservative in their voting behavior during presidential primaries, said Sharon Holmes, DeKalb County clerk.
This year in DeKalb County, Republican George W. Bush had nearly 50 percent more supporters than all nine presidential candidates combined, according to unofficial primary election results on the county’s Web site.
This trend carries into the local level, as more Republican candidates are running for state representative, circuit clerk, state’s attorney and coroner and generally receive more support.
DeKalb resident Ken Quigley said the amount of Republican voters does not surprise him because most DeKalb residents tend to be religious Christians. Their moral beliefs often play more of a role in voting behavior than economic status.
“A lot of people here are socially conservative and that has nothing to do with their income,” he said.
Weaver, a product of a conservative Christian family, said she chose to be a Republican more because of moral issues, like abortion, than financial ones.
“[Republican] ideals and policies go more with what I believe,” Weaver said.
This voting pattern is not restricted to DeKalb. Surrounding counties such as Boone County had more support for Republican candidates, according to their unofficial primary election results.
Barbara Burrell, associate director of NIU’s Public Opinion Laboratory, said rural communities like DeKalb tend to be more Republican despite their less than average incomes.
Contrary to most of DeKalb County, studies show that the residents of DeKalb tend to be more supportive of liberal candidates.
During the POL’s 2004 Election survey, they found that residents of DeKalb are more supportive of Kerry than the rest of the county. Burrell said this might be because of the greater number of college students, who tend to be more liberal.
These Republican voting patterns might change as DeKalb becomes a more urban community and more students begin to vote, Burrell said.
“It will be very interesting to see what happens in the next two weeks,” Burrell said.
For more information on voting or primary election results, visit the DeKalb County Web site at www.dekalbcounty.org. For more information on the poll conducted by the NIU’s POL, visit http://www.niu.edu/PubAffairs/RELEASES/2004/oct/poll.htm.