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Suburb shift turns state blue

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But she feels differently about Bush's son, and abhors the current Republican Party. The turning point for her was the rise of the culture wars. "In the 1980s, those conservative people who spent all their time telling you how to live your life were kind of on the fringe," she says. "Now you feel like the Republican platform has espoused these ideas that to me are institutionalized bigotry. I can't stand it."

How people feel about abortion and gay marriage has become a sort of litmus test, she says, and she has a harder and harder time relating to those people who come down on the opposite side of the debate.

The small-business Republican

Die-hard conservatives certainly remain in Illinois. But many Republicans here are people like Chuck Dressel, whose family has owned an hardware store since 1923. He's says he's Republican because "small business owners are Republicans." But he's antigun, for abortion rights and birth control, and would like to see healthcare extended to more people. He thought the invasion of Iraq "had to be done," but he's concerned about where the war is headed, and how many Americans have died. He's still leaning toward supporting Bush in November - he and his wife usually cancel each other out - but says his mind isn't made up.

"I guess I'm an economic Republican," he says, standing in an aisle packed with nails and bolts. "I'm not really excited about welfare for able-bodied people."

Mr. Dressel lives in River Forest, but neighboring Oak Park, where he runs his hardware store, has become one of the most liberal of the Chicago suburbs, a place that early on moved away from its Eisenhower roots and now exemplifies one of the new political truisms, that people seek out places where their neighbors think the same way they do.

A haven that's leafy, and liberal
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