[Updated and bumped up to make it easier to find.]
My political newsletter, Capitol Fax, commissioned a new statewide poll last week of presidential preference in Illinois. Only “hardcore” voters in each party were surveyed - see my weekly syndicated column below for more details…
It may be no surprise to some, but new polling shows Barack Obama is doing better with hardcore Illinois primary voters than Hillary Clinton is doing with voters in her home state of New York. Also, voters are split over whether Obama should be more critical of Chicago corruption, and the Republican presidential primary appears wide open here.
The Illinois poll was commissioned by my political newsletter, Capitol Fax. The poll, taken last Thursday, surveyed registered voters who have chosen either Democratic or Republican ballots in the past two presidential primaries and have never picked a different ballot. They’re the hardcore of the hardcore and are very likely to vote.
The poll found Obama leading the pack of presidential hopefuls here with 52.6 percent of the vote among hardcore Democrats. Clinton came in second with 24.6 percent. Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards was third with 9.5 percent. None of the other declared candidates topped 3 percent, while 6.9 percent chose either “other” or “undecided.”
In New York, two recent polls have shown Clinton with a bigger lead but polling well under 50 percent. A Quinnipac University poll had her ahead of Obama 44 to 14, but a more recent survey from Siena College’s Research Institute had Clinton ahead of the second place Obama 39 to 17 with 13 percent of Democrats undecided.
Obama captured well over 70 percent of the vote in the 2004 US Senate race, so his Illinois numbers in this latest poll might be a surprise to some who expected him to be doing even better. Clinton was raised in Illinois and is, of course, a very well known commodity. That probably explains why she is polling higher here than Obama is polling in New York.
The Illinois poll also found voters are evenly split over whether Obama has been sufficiently critical of Mayor Richard Daley regarding corruption in city hall.
A tad more than 49 percent of hardcore Democratic and Republican primary voters said they believed Obama has sufficiently criticized Daley, who just won another landslide re-election race, while 50.8 percent said he has not been critical enough.
The issue of Obama’s alliance with the Daley Machine has been a much bigger issue in Illinois than it has been on the national stage. But since this story is being constantly pushed here, it has the potential to one day bleed into the national debate.
About 60 percent of hardcore Democratic and Republican residents of Chicago and Cook County thought he had criticized Daley enough, but just 36 percent of downstate voters believe he has sufficiently criticized Daley.
Slightly less than 61 percent of hardcore Democratic voters said he has done enough to criticize Daley, while 35 percent of hardcore GOP voters said the same. A majority, 53 percent, of suburban collar county primary voters said he has criticized the mayor enough while 47 percent said he hadn’t.
Meanwhile, the poll also showed that Illinois’ Republican presidential primary appears to be wide open.
The survey of hardcore Republican primary voters showed U.S. Sen. John McCain with an ever-so-slight lead over former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. McCain was ahead of Giuliani 26.1 to 25.7.
Former U.S. Sen. and TV actor Fred Thompson came in third with 17.7 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was fourth with 10.2 percent, and former Wisconsin Gov. and George W. Bush cabinet member Tommy Thompson was fifth with just 3.3 percent. Undecideds and “other” totaled 17 percent.
McCain is slipping rapidly in national polling, but he still has support among Illinoisans who backed him in his 2000 presidential bid. Giuliani recently signed up House Republican Leader Tom Cross, who is helping get that organization together. Thompson has not yet formally announced, but he is looking more like a candidate every day.
The automated phone poll was conducted by “Ask Illinois,” which has done a lot of polling for political candidates and interest groups and has a good reputation among insiders. The firm uses special technology to blast out hundreds of calls simultaneously and they contact huge numbers of people. In this case 3,509 hardcore Democrats and 3,761 Republicans responded to the poll, leaving us with an extremely low margin of error of +/- 1.18 to +/- 1.52 percent, depending on the question. Republicans and Democrats who indicated they intend to cross over to the other party next year were omitted from these results. The difference was statistically insignificant.
Crosstabs will be posted later this morning in the subscriber-only section.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Metro Networks, which has member radio stations all over Illinois, covered the poll this morning…
Democrats who plan to vote in next year’s presidential primary have a much better idea of who they plan to support than Republicans. A new polls for the political newsletter “Capitol Fax” shows Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama with a huge lead over Senator Hillary Clinton. Both have ties to Illinois, but Obama leads the hardcore primary voter poll by 28-percent. The poll asked people who’ve voted in the last two primaries for the same party who they plan to support. Obama pulled in 52-point-6 percent, Senator Clinton is in second with 24-point-6, and Senator John Edwards has about 9-and-a-half percent.
It’s a much closer field for the Republicans. John McCain leads among his hardcore supporters, edging out Rudy Giuliani 26-point-1 to 25-point-7. Fred Thompson is third, and Mitt Romney fourth. Pollsters say the hardcore voters will vote in the primary, and a look at their support is a solid indicator of who may win Illinois if the state moves to an earlier primary for 2008.
*** UPDATE 3 *** Rasmussen has a new national poll that has Obama leading the pack…
For the first time in the Election 2008 season, somebody other than New York Senator Hillary Clinton is on top in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows Illinois Senator Barack Obama with a statistically insignificant two point advantage over the former First Lady. Itâ€™s Obama 32% Clinton 30%. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards remains in third with support holding steady at 17%. No other candidate tops 3%. The survey was conducted April 23-26, 2007 meaning that the overwhelming majority of the interviews were completed before last Thursdayâ€™s debate in South Carolina. The impact of the debate will be measured in polling conducted this week.
The Capitol Fax newsletter has done what I think is the first presidential poll for ‘08. It shows Democratic Sen. Barack Obama with a huge lead, more than 2-to-1, over the field in his adopted home state. On the Republican side, it’s tres tight between Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Former Sen. Fred Thompson, whose wife is from Naperville, was a surprising third.
Despite all the cash dumped into state health insurance expansion plans, the problem continues to worsen. According to the Tribune, a study released Friday showed that “1.8 million residents were uninsured in Illinois in 2005, up about 2 percent from the year before.”
“What this tells us is even with everything Illinois is doing, this problem is getting worse,” said Michael Taitel, board president at the Gilead Outreach and Referral Center, which published the study and focuses on the uninsured.
It’s happening largely because of a well-documented, long-term trend: Fewer employers are offering medical coverage to employees and their families as insurance premiums and health-care costs soar.
Between 2001 and 2005, the portion of Illinois’ population covered by employer-based insurance fell from 74.9 percent to 72.8 percent, the Gilead Center’s analysis shows. […]
Statewide, 367,995 families with an annual income of more than $50,000 included at least one family member younger than 65 who was uninsured in 2005â€”or nearly 40 percent of all uninsured families.
Illinois has only two options for health reform: preserve private insurance companies (and the huge systemic waste they generate), or scrap them and use the savings to cover everyone. Sadly, Blagojevich has joined President Bush, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in offering the private insurance route.
The better approach would be to replace insurance companies with Medicare-like universal public health insurance, a system that has afforded the rest of the industrialized world better health for half our per-capita cost (or less).
Question: Do you support a single-payer system? Why or why not?
Phil Kadner had a very good column over the weekend. I say that at least partly because he beat me to this angle.
What happened was the Illinois Education and A+ Illinois have organized a Statehouse rally this week. Originally, the rally was supposed to tout the governor’s gross receipts tax proposal to fund education. But the groups got some push-back, particularly from longtime tax swap supporters, and now it’s just a general “let’s fund education” to-do….
“We’re not choosing sides here,” said a spokesman for the Illinois Education Association, which actually did choose sides earlier this year by supporting the GRT. “This is a citizens rally to tell legislators the time has come to get something done.” […]
Voliva said the IEA agreed to a more generic rally in support of increased school funding. It also agreed not to allow any politicians to speak.
So her organization [Better Funding for Better Schools] — which includes the Illinois PTA, League of Women Voters and a number of grass roots education advocacy groups — agreed to participate.
Here’s the original IEA flyer on the rally and a close-up of the GRT language [click for larger pics]…
And here’s the new IEA statement and the new A+ Illinois info on the rally…
Needless to say, this is not good news for Gov. Blagojevich’s tax and spending plan. The guv’s office has tried its very best to stamp out all mentions of the tax swap, but it keeps coming back up. The Illinois Federation of Teachers is currently withholding support from the spending component (along with the Illinois AFL-CIO).
There is little if any momentum for the governor’s plans at the Statehouse right now. A generic education funding rally is definitely not something he wanted.
Both proposals would have adverse, if not devastating, effects on the Illinois economy. But taxpayer advocates should hand it to the governor. His is only the second-most reckless plan on the table this spring.
And a Rockford Register-Star article includes this line about the competing proposals…
But chances of either plan passing appear slim as the plans compete for political support.
*** UPDATE *** The IEA has a new TV ad that makes no mention of the GRT. Entitled “Someday” it ends with the tagline “Tell your state Senator and Representative to support school funding reform.” Click the pic to watch [.mov file]…
In a move to jumpstart Michigan’s economy and reward businesses that create jobs here in Michigan, House leadership today unveiled a comprehensive business tax and incentive package that rewards investment, protects Michigan-based companies, and ensures funding for education, health care and the 21st Century Jobs Fund.
* Lynn Sweet: Obama admits being nervous at first debate
Obama replied that while a state senator, “The first bill I ever passed was campaign finance reform legislation.'’ He’s wrong. It was not his first bill. Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney reports that as a chief co-sponsor, Obama played an important role in passing that legislation May 22, 1998. Obama’s first bill passed on his own in the state Senate required the state’s community colleges to publish a directory of students with vocational and technical skills.
What a long week that was. The craziness never seems to end at the Statehouse.
Just so you know, I’m taking bids for a new web hosting service. Best reliability wins. Local company preferred. Goodbye, PowWeb. I’m not gonna miss you. Hopefully, you will be out of my life by early next week.
By now, loyal blog readers most certainly know our Friday drill. It’s Illinoize time…
My Sun-Times column today is about more possible turmoil in Chicago elections, but ends with these thoughts about the recent aldermanic races…
Speaking of Obama, it might be interesting to watch what the presidential candidate does in next year’s primary. Obama refused to endorse any of the insurgent candidates this year, sticking with the Daley Machine and openly endorsing faded hack Ald. Tillman in her losing race to Pat Dowell, who is truly a breath of fresh air.
It’s more than a little ironic that a self-styled ‘’new politics'’ guy like Obama has no strong ties to the newly elected aldermen who seem to share so many of his self-professed political values. He’s just lucky that no national political reporter has covered this hypocrisy angle yet.
My syndicated column this week also took a whack at the guy for the same reason and put him in the “loser” category for the season…
Barack Obama, who styles himself as the epitome of a young, black “new politics” candidate, did not endorse a single one of the bright, new, independent-minded aldermen who will be taking the helm of black wards on the South and West sides. Count him as a big loser.
And here’s a little teaser: On Monday we’ll take a look at how Obama’s association with the Daley Machine is playing with voters.
Anyway, to the question: Did anyone watch the Democratic presidential candidates debate last night? What did you make of it? Apparently, Lynn Sweet didn’t think much of Obama’s performance.
If you’ve been on Mars for a while and did not know the names of the Democratic White House frontrunners, you could have thought after the first presidential debate Thursday they were Sen. Joe Biden, Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Chris Dodd.
Illinois took another step toward a statewide smoking ban on Thursday, when the House environmental health committee approved it on a 10-to-2 vote. […]
The Senate has already approved SB500, which would prohibit smoking in all Illinois workplaces and indoor public areas, including bars, restaurants, casinos and bowling alleys. Smoking also would be banned within 15 feet of any entrance to those facilities and in all government vehicles.
Surprisingly enough, the governor has been rather noncommittal on this issue…
“The governor’s been supportive of public health initiatives in the past that deal with smoking,” said Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff. “But we still need to take a closer look at the particulars of this bill.”
State Rep. Mike Boland, D-East Moline, said he wished there were more exceptions to the ban. He worries about towns on the Illinois border that could lose business to bars or casinos on the other side. â€™â€™I wish thereâ€™d been more flexibility,â€™â€™ he said.
The Peoria Journal-Star reports that most of that area’s legislators are apparently against a smoking ban, despite a recent show of support in Peoria…
(L)awmakers’ opinions apparently weren’t influenced by a recent advisory referendum in which Peoria voters said 2-1 that they support a statewide smoking ban. […]
“Sen. Koehler did vote yes. He was the only senator to vote yes who has a casino in his district. That was huge,” said Kelli Evans, health initiatives manager for the 19 downstate counties of the American Cancer Society.
State Reps. David Leitch, R-Peoria; Aaron Schock, R-Peoria; Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, and Keith Sommer, R-Morton, all said Thursday that they plan to vote against the smoking ban.
The bill could receive a vote in the full House as early as next week, according to many of the reports above.
Favored by abortion-rights groups, the initiative that failed 55-62 was designed to broaden the pool of adults that pregnant girls could contact to fulfill a dormant 1995 parental-notification law.
That law, which is before a federal court and could soon be enforced, requires females under 18 to notify an adult relative or receive approval from a judge. The legislation voted on Thursday would have allowed minors in dysfunctional families to notify an aunt or uncle or meet with a health professional instead.
“This is not a referendum on abortion,” said Rep. John Fritchey, the bill’s lead sponsor. “It is a referendum on protecting the health and safety of young women.”
â€œItâ€™s really irresponsible for people on the other side to characterize any of us as pro-abortion,â€ said state Rep. Rosemary Mulligan, a Des Plaines Republican who voted for the plan. â€œThatâ€™s not where weâ€™re going with this. What we want to do is protect young women. We want to protect them from going to the wrong place if they do seek an abortion.â€
Critics argued the proposal didnâ€™t do enough to help young girls in what could be one of the most important decisions theyâ€™ll ever make. They also said teenagers should have a compelling reason, such as incest or other dangers, for wanting to go around telling their parents, something more than embarrassment or fear of parental retribution.
â€œIâ€™m her father â€¦ and I should know about it,â€ said state Rep. Robert Molaro, a Chicago Democrat and the father of three teen daughters, who voted against the plan.
Opponents suggested Fritchey was trying to torpedo any notification law by leaving out language that lets courts rule part of the law unconstitutional without striking down the whole measure. Omitting that language could mean that any small legal flaw would nullify the entire law.
Fritchey said working on the measure was the “worst experience” of his legislative career. He said the proposal inspired people to lie, spew hatred and even make death threats.
* Dave Kolata: ComEd’s auction stacks deck against consumers
* Editorial: Clean up IL government, end ‘pay to play’
Oddly, the governor - who campaigned on the platform of doing away with business as usual - has not taken a position on the bill and a spokeswoman wouldn’t even say whether the governor believes in the basic principal of prohibiting donations from contractors.
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent talking on the phone and exchanging e-mails with my hosting company about the site problems we’ve had this week. I’m very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you, but I’ve been assured over and over by the company that they’re working on it.
It seems to be running better now, so we’ll just have to wait and see. This morning, I threatened to call the CEO of the company’s corporate parent with my beef, and that may have done the trick.
Insurance companies are leading a propaganda campaign against SB 1296.
SB 1296 is not about â€œdeep pockets,â€ but merely responds to a recent Appellate Court case that would open a legal loophole allowing negligent manufacturers, reckless construction companies and even drunk drivers to dodge their responsibility when their negligence injures or kills someone.
Opponents of SB 1296 are hoping that recent Appellate Court case will overturn 21 years of legal practice, allowing wrongdoers to shift responsibility for their negligence to individuals and small businesses who have long ago been dismissed as defendants from a lawsuit, by placing their name on jury verdict forms and encouraging juries to assign damages against them.
Insurance companies falsely claim that dismissed defendants have_always_ appeared on jury verdict forms. Not true, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
â€œHistorically, juries have not been allowed to consider settling defendants when figuring out percentages of fault, since 1986, when that portion of the civil liability code was written.â€ (4/23/2007)
Before you buy into the â€œDeep Pocketsâ€ propaganda, keep in mind that 88% of all tort cases in Illinois are for $50,000 or less (Illinois Supreme Court annual report).
Beyond the obvious and wrenching tragedy for everyone involved, the Virginia Tech massacre became a Rorschach test of sorts as Americans tried to analyze how it happened and how it could have been prevented.
Many have asked how it was that no one in a position to act authoritatively heeded the numerous red flags that the gunman was a disturbed and menacing presence. Others have suggested that the shooting spree could have been cut short if even one of the students or professors had been armed. Still others have wondered how someone with the killerâ€™s record of brushes with the mental health system was allowed to buy guns.
All of these questions and points of view are understandable to one degree or another. The last is being addressed â€” and appropriately so â€” by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. […]
Illinois law requires any individual buying a gun to possess a Firearm Ownerâ€™s Identification card. Prudently, state law denies a FOID card to anyone who has undergone inpatient mental health treatment. Federal law also bans the sale of guns to anyone deemed mentally ill. […[
Illinois law might not stop someone with a potentially homicidal tendency from legally buying a handgun. The FOID law prohibition is for those who have had inpatient treatment, not outpatient. […]
But Illinois law also says a FOID card may be denied to anyone with a mental condition who â€œposes a clear and present danger.â€ A gray area, to be sure.
Question: Do we need to do more to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns? Explain.
* As I told subscribers this morning, a House committee will vote today on an amendment to Sen. Gary Forby’s bill that will reattach ComEd to the Ameren-only rate rollback and freeze legislation.
A House committee is scheduled today to take up the legislation to freeze Ameren electric rates, Senate Bill 1592. A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan said it could be amended to include ComEd, passed in the House and returned to the Senate for reconsideration as early as Friday.
* People agitating for a freeze also delivered petitions to Senate President Emil Jones…
Advocates delivered what they said were more than 23,000 petitions calling for rate relief to Senate President Emil Jonesâ€™ office after the news conference.
Rank-and-file lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated with the battle between Jones, a major beneficiary of ComEd campaign contributions, and Madigan, who has supported a freeze since last fall.
Downstate lawmakers have been inundated with complaints from Ameren customers about skyrocketing utility bills they have received since a nearly 10-year-long rate freeze expired with the new year. A group of consumer advocates dumped petitions in Jones’ office Wednesday asking him to support a rate freeze.
“President Jones, do your job!” shouted Jeanne Lakin, a resident of Downstate Godfrey, who said her February electric bill nearly quadrupled to $717 from a year ago. “Be there for us! Enough politics have been played!”
Consumer groups also have warned that Chicago area ComEd customers are likely to see rapid increases in their bills once the summer air-conditioning season arrives.
* More utility-related stories, compiled by Paul Richardson…
The Statehouse was abuzz yesterday with word that Senate President Emil Jones had been seen walking into House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office. What could the two antagonists be discussing, people wondered.
It turns out, Jones wanted to see Madigan about the supplemental appropriations bill that Madigan had been holding up for weeks. The Pantagraph has more…
Illinois lawmakers approved billions in new spending Wednesday, including cash for their own pay raises and a windfall for hospitals.
Last year, lawmakers decided not to block a measure that awarded themselves and some state executives about 15 percent in pay raises. But the cash to pay them had never been approved.
A House panel voted 4-2 Wednesday to pay about $1.5 million for those raises and billions more for other programs.
The spending measure included a key provision that gives about $2.4 billion to the state’s hospitals in order to leverage billions of federal money. The state has to pay for the federal government to give its full amount.
Meanwhile, in another budget-related matter, DHS is stonewalling reporters who want the agency to back up its claims about the “Pajama Scandal.”
The state Department of Human Services refuses to turn over records to back up its claim that two highly paid aides had other duties besides chauffeuring their bosses.
Department officials said the decision to keep the documents secret was supported by the state’s top lawyer, Attorney General Lisa Madigan. But Madigan’s office disputed that Wednesday, calling the claim “completely inaccurate.”
Human Services Secretary Carol Adams has told lawmakers that Carlos Estes and Eugene Davis were not mere drivers. Their job descriptions also say they wrote articles to educate the public, delivered speeches and press briefings, conducted special studies and research, and handled agency correspondence.
But in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for such records from The Associated Press, DHS said the documents could be kept secret under the law because they were “drafts” meant for internal decision-making.
I spoke to an organization yesterday that gets much of its funding through DHS. I told them that lawmakers may be unwilling to give a lot more money to an agency when they don’t trust the director. This story won’t help matters much.
Almost every pension system in Illinois faces a frighteningly high unfunded liability, which I will be paying off until I’m old and creaky. And yet lawmakers tend to cave to special interests and beef up benefits year after year.