Source: Cook County Clerk's Office

Numbers for the 2012 Presidential Election didn’t hit the high marks set in 2008, but leaders of the local Republican and Democratic parties were proud of their efforts.

Although a slight dip was seen after four years, Oak Park still had the highest voter turnout in suburban Cook County this year, with 27,844 votes cast for president. Of that, 82.45 percent, or 22,958 votes, went to President Barack Obama and 15.61 percent, or 4,346 votes, going to Mitt Romney.

River Forest numbers were also down with 59.82 percent (3,536) for Obama and 38.39 (2,269) percent for Romney.

In 2008, Obama took 84.26 percent of the vote over John McCain’s 14.64 percent in Oak Park; Obama also got 64.89 percent over McCain’s 34.11 percent in River Forest. Total voting numbers between the two elections showed about a 1,600-person drop in Oak Park and roughly a 260-voter drop in River Forest.

Although the numbers didn’t sway her way, Linda Tibensky, committeeman of the Oak Park Republican Organization, was pleased with those who fulfilled their civic duty.

“I’m happy that we have at least a two-party system and I’m glad to be part of a democracy. We listen when the people have spoken. I personally have experienced countries not in a democracy,” she added. “Seeing the turnout was exhilarating. It made me so proud.”

Overall, she thinks the Republican Party needs some “soul searching” as it prepares for 2014, but she said the Oak Park Republican group has recruited a diverse crowd, including men and women of various ages and races.

“I’d like to see this nationally with the Republican Party,” Tibensky said.

Locally, she said, ideas like meeting quarterly, instead of right before election, are in the works. A local young Republicans group may soon be coming to the area as well. Overall, though, she was pleased with the volunteers who showed up to help recruit voters and organize Republicans.

On the blue side, Jerry Delaney, organizer for the Democratic Party of Oak Park, was still recovering from last week’s victory.

“It felt much more satisfying to me than 2008 because there were so many roadblocks that were put up in the last four years,” she said Monday in a voice still strained from election night.

Oak Parkers left the state and focused on places like Iowa, then shifted fully to Wisconsin during the final four-day, get-out-the-vote effort. They calculated more than 36,000 calls were made in Wisconsin during that period from more than 300 people who were bused up North.

“I had been telling everyone, and all the volunteers, that the ground game was going to win it,” Delaney said. “How can you defeat the army of ‘we the people’ volunteers?”

Even on Election Day, she said, the enthusiasm didn’t stop. Word got out that more canvassers were need in Wisconsin and 10 people volunteered. Seeing that brought tears to Delaney’s eyes.

“I couldn’t believe people had that kind of passion to keep giving up their days,” she said. “We were just a little reflection of what was going on throughout the rest of the country.”

As for what’s next, both women said first it’s time to rest, and then look forward to 2014 and 2016. Discussions about connecting to young voters, woman, and Hispanics and African Americans, Delaney and Tibensky agreed, are needed by their respective parties. Nationally, political analysts have mentioned the importance of these groups in relation to the election outcome.

For full results on the local election results, including congressional races and the referendum about hydrologic fracking, visit cookcountyclerk.com.

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