5. IL Gov: Pat Quinn Hangs On
Hampered by Illinois' $13 billion deficit, an unemployment rate north of 9 percent, the specter of indicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and upside down approval ratings, Gov. Pat Quinn faced an uphill fight from the start.
His opponent, state Sen. Bill Brady, led in all but two public polls since March and attempted to focus the race on the economy and Illinois' perilous fiscal state. He also attempted to tie the governor to Blagojevich (Quinn was lieutenant governor under Blagojevich), who stood trial this summer for allegedly attempting to sell President Obama's old Senate seat. Quinn became governor when Blagojevich was removed from office in 2009.
For his part, Quinn relentlessly hammered Brady on social issues, attacks which appear to have taken hold just enough to allow the incumbent to peel off votes in suburban Chicago counties.
Bolstered by a 64 percent to 29 percent margin of victory in Cook County and possibly aided by the presence of independent candidate Scott Lee Cohen, Quinn squeaked by Brady by less than 20,000 votes to win his first full term as governor.