Voters tuned out, but not turned off

Illinois is fast shaping up as a key battleground in the Reagan-Mondale race, as evidenced by visits to the state by both presidential candidates the day after the close of the Republican convention.

In Chicago, long considered a firm Democratic stronghold, a Monitor street sampling indicated that many residents didn't watch television coverage of the convention at all.

''I'm a Republican, but that sort of thing just doesn't interest me,'' said a truck driver as he loaded cartons of milk on a dolly for a morning delivery.

Many who did watch rated it variously from a snoozer to somewhat interesting entertainment.

''I watched as little as possible. It was boring and orchestrated,'' remarked a businessman racing to work, briefcase in hand.

The predictable outcome and lack of suspense didn't help, most people said. One Chicagoan - not a teacher - said she'd rather see the money that was spent go for improved teacher salaries.

''Goldwater's speech was the hardest-hitting, but overall the convention was particularly undistinguished,'' commented Mort Denlow, a Chicago lawyer. ''It seemed like a love fest or a pep rally.''

But some of the oft-repeated GOP themes did strike a responsive chord with some Chicagoans. Republican Barbara Voigt said she felt the points made by GOP leaders on foreign policy and the lack of any need to apologize for United States behavior were ''good for Americans to hear.''

Did the convention persuade any independents or Democrats to vote the GOP ticket? ''I think they made quite a few good points, and I'm undecided,'' said Bobby Floyd, a Chicago subway worker who is black.

''I've been voting Democratic all my life, but I'm leaning more toward the Republicans this time,'' conceded Reginald McGhee as he stacked and weighed fresh chocolate-chip and sugar cookies for waiting customers at the Original Cookie Co.

Student Chuck Bailey, who watched only a half-hour of the convention but liked what he saw, observed, ''Reagan doesn't take things sitting down - he goes for it.''

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