"Our outreach effort has been like no other. Businesses of every kind are suffering. So we're reaching out to Latinos, to the Indian-American communities, the Polish community, the Russian communities," said Sanguinetti. "As Republicans, the messaging is out there now. Before, I believe we had problems with messaging. But that's no longer the case. The party has a face-lift."
Last Sunday, Rauner even spent the second-to-last weekend on the trail at the New Beginnings Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side. "Our Lord God has not put us on this Earth as Democrats and Republicans," he told the congregation, according to the Associated Press. "He put us on this Earth to take care of each other."
Meanwhile, he's running against one of the least popular governors in the country, who has presided over a state with unemployment rates among minority communities well above the national average. Bill Brady, Quinn's last Republican opponent, won just 6 percent of African-American voters and 26 percent of Hispanics in the last gubernatorial election. Quinn won the race by a 32,000-vote margin out of 3.4 million votes. This year's race is shaping up to be as competitive.
One of Rauner's ads, specifically aimed at the black community, features footage of former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington in 1987, saying he regretted hiring Quinn as the city's revenue director. "He was dismissed and he should've been dismissed," said Washington, who was the city's first black mayor. "My only regret is that we hired him and kept him too long."
Quinn's campaign has been bludgeoning Rauner on the airwaves, portraying him as a vulture capitalist who laid off workers and shipped jobs overseas, and even unleashed allegations that he threatened a female manager because she declined to lay off employees.
That Democratic assault might be working. Talk to strategists with both campaigns, and Rauner hasn't made the gains with minority voters that he expected, despite his effort. He's facing a challenge hitting 10 percent support among black voters, and isn't improving much on Brady's Hispanic performance, either. In fact, the Chicago Tribune poll released last week has him winning only 3 percent of the African-American vote, just half of Brady's showing in 2010.
"He'll be lucky to get what Brady got," said Quinn pollster Mark Mellman. "Across the state, including the African-American communities, [people] see him for what he is—a guy who makes himself rich in shady business deals at the expense of everyone else. That's not what people want in a governor."
A SUBURBAN AUDIENCE
Even Republicans working for Rauner privately acknowledged that despite their candidate's optimism, they're not going to reshape long-standing voting patterns that have consigned Republicans to a sliver of the black vote. His campaign has set a goal of winning 20 percent of the vote in Chicago, something that can be accomplished with only small inroads among minority voters. But they also hope that by highlighting Rauner's minority outreach, he'll improve his showing among softer Republican voters—like married women in the suburbs and moderates. The Chicago Tribune poll, which showed Rauner narrowly ahead, reported that his gains had "been driven primarily by white suburban women, a voting bloc considered socially moderate but fiscally conservative."