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Schilling poll: Bustos trails by 16 points

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

* A Public Opinion Strategies poll of 400 likely voters May 20-22 in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District found that freshman Republican Bobby Schilling is leading Cheri Bustos 51-35. From the pollster

Key Findings

1. Bobby Schilling has worked very hard in his freshman year in Congress, and it shows in the Congressman’s image rating.

In a redrawn district that is approximately half the district Schilling currently represents and half new territory for him, the Congressman has strong name ID (86%) and a solid image of 42% fav/22% unfav. Most encouragingly, Schilling enjoys a 54% fav/28% unfav image in the portions of the new district that he already represents, demonstrating that those who know him best, like him best.

2. Cheri Bustos begins the campaign with a very weak image.

Cheri Bustos’ name ID in the district is at just 51% and her hard name ID is a lackluster 28% (16% fav/12% unfav). In a sprawling district that covers three different media markets, Bustos will have a difficult time increasing her name ID and favorables without a significant investment from her campaign.

3. President Obama leads Mitt Romney by ten points on the Presidential ballot.

President Obama is over 50% and has a double-digit lead (51% Obama/41% Romney) on the Presidential ballot. This margin is down a bit from 2008 when the President won this redrawn district by more than 20 points, but his current ten point advantage demonstrates that, at least at the Presidential level, this new district tilts Democratic.

4. Schilling enjoys a double-digit lead on the ballot and intensity also favors him.

Schilling leads Bustos by 16 points (51% Schilling/35% Bustos) on the ballot. To already be over 50% in a district that is half new to him is a very good sign for Schilling early in this race. Another positive sign for the incumbent is that he also has a double-digit lead on intensity, with 34% of voters saying they would definitely vote for him and just 22% definitely voting for Bustos. Perhaps most impressively, Schilling receives the same level of support in this district as the President. Clearly, while voters in the district are inclined to re-elect President Obama, they also love the job their Republican Congressman is doing and also want to see him re-elected.

The survey had a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Downstate - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:42 am:

    Pelosi is counting on picking up five congressional seats in Illinois. I believe this was one of them. Johnson’s old seat is going to be an uphill battle for the Dems, and Costello’s seat looks equally tough to hold.

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    Gee, Cheri, I guess you must as well pack it in and go home, lol.

    Schilling sounds like he’s trying to reassure himself more than anything.

    –President Obama is over 50% and has a double-digit lead (51% Obama/41% Romney) on the Presidential ballot.–

    Think those Obama voters are going to pass on Cheri for Schilling?

  3. - Redrum - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    Spin it anyway you want Bob, but come election day “voters” will cast their lots and I fully suspect the outcome will find Schilling clutching his guns, flag and the wrong end of the stick - LOSING!

  4. - thom - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:05 pm:

    Look for early media from the Bustos campaign…The “Bottom Line: according to the pollster, who is very good one, “…make no
    mistake, Democrats drew this seat with the goal of making Schilling a one-term Congressman
    and will presumably invest significant resources to do so. In order for Schilling to maintain his
    double-digit lead, the key will be to have the financial resources to define Bustos before she (and
    her national Democratic allies) can define herself.”
    That’s Cheri’s plan - game afoot!

  5. - QcPundit - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:22 pm:

    Anyone who suggests that Obama voters won’t vote for a republican are fooling themselves. Check out the election results for Obama and Manzullo, as well as Obama and Schock.

    Obama won Mark Kirk’s district with 64% of the vote, Kirk pulled it home with 54% of the vote in 2008.

    Looks like the IL-17 isn’t such a shoe in for Durbin’s babysitter.

  6. - Doke - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:33 pm:

    Strong numbers for Schilling. There is a much greater likelihood Obama voters will vote for Schilling, than Romney voters will vote for Bustos. I have a hard time believing Obama’s numbers will get much better in that district. He is very well-known to the district.

  7. - East Sider - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:38 pm:

    Schilling should never be underestimated. He’s a tireless worker and instantly connects with voters when he meets them. He won a district two years ago that was drawn so that a democrat would never lose. Probably the most gerrymandered district in the country.

  8. - Sentinel - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 12:58 pm:

    The bad news for dems in IL congressional races keeps getting worse. Earlier this week a dem poll showed Dold and Schneider tied. Davis is in a strong position in the 13th. Yesterday the dem nominee in the 12th withdrew, and today one of their best hopes is 16 points behind even though Obama is 10 ahead in that district. Downstate is going to be a blood bath for dems in congressional and general assembly races.

  9. - Lil' Enchilada - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:27 pm:

    With all the photo-ops Bobby has in the local newspapers it’s no wonder everyone knows his name. I wonder when he has the time to be in Washington he’s at so many photographed events.

  10. - slinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:41 pm:

    This poll will look pretty in those fancy mailers Schilling wastes money on. You know, the ones he railed against when he was a candidate in 2010. Schilling is in a lot of trouble, if he doesn’t realize that it is his lose. Someone who votes against Amtrak is going to lose a lot of votes in the QC.

    It would be nice to see a nonpartisan pollster take a look at the race.

  11. - Fed up - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:47 pm:

    Ask bean, Halvorsen,seals,hare and foster about how those Obama voters pulled the ballot they all lost

  12. - QcPundit - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:49 pm:

    Oh Hai Slinger!

    Sounds like Durbin’s babysitter is the one in trouble…Obama is down 9 points since 2008. What happened to all those independents?

    I heard the former health care marketer, who made over $300,000 in 2010, had to sell her Cadillac XRT (MSRP $84,000-$104,000) in order to fit into the district more. Makes sense, being that the average household income in around $37,000 a year.

    Poor Cheri.

    Oh well. Maybe she can buy a new one after she loses. I hear the 2013 models are pretty sweet.

  13. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 1:55 pm:

    –Sounds like Durbin’s babysitter is the one in trouble..–

    Dude, you’re doing a swell job for Schilling with that sexist stuff. Keep it up, please.

  14. - Liandro - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:10 pm:

    Cheri got a lot of local media (not so positive) for refusing to debate her Democratic opponents in the primary, for skipping forums and town halls, and for generally avoiding the public. With Durbin and the establishment support, she flew through the primary with that strategy, but it also cost her serious name ID and media cred. If she had been working harder, in district, more people would know her, and more people would respect her.

    Schilling, on the other hand, has been working very, very hard. I saw him multiple times on the trail, despite living a bit outside his district. I never saw Cheri. Schilling connects directly with voters, and willingly engages with even those who strongly disagree with him. People notice that.

    Cheri is going to get money, of course, and big name support. In such a strong D district it may be enough to knock off Schilling, but she sure won’t have earned it. And I won’t be surprised at all if Schilling wins. He knows his stuff, he knows his district, and he knows how to work very hard.

  15. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:13 pm:

    Bottom line is that it’s early in this race and those Schilling numbers are at their high water mark. Bustos is undefined and won’t be until later in the race since normal people don’t pay attention to congressional races this far out.

    It’s not a slam dunk for either but it’s way way too early to count Bustos out.

  16. - NW Illinois - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:13 pm:

    Anyone in their right mind would never underestimate the work ethic of the Schilling family and their candidate and campaign. He’s an earned media giant up here as well.

    But don’t count the Bustos candidacy out just yet.
    She is a hard-working candidate who is raising tons of dough-re-me$. President Obama’s coattails will her candidacy.

  17. - QcPundit - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:21 pm:

    Wordslinger must not realize that Cheri really did babysit for Durbin…

    She also ate breakfast every morning with Sen. Paul Simon.

    Bustos was born with the equivalent of a political silver spoon in her mouth.

    Too bad she’s made so many enemies in the Quad Cities. Seems to me that the more people see of her, the less they like. 16% favorable, 12% unfavorable? YIKES!!

    Cheri Bustos is a country club Democrat and will never connect with the people. Good luck trying Cheryl.

  18. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:28 pm:

    QC, so your description of a successful professional woman who’s a mother and grandmother as a “babysitter” is meant to be informative and not belittling?

    Like I said, you’re doing a swell job for Schilling.

  19. - NW Illinois - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:31 pm:

    Listen, everyone knows that Cong. Schilling rode in on the national wave of 2010. Is he for real? 2012 will tell. He’s a hard worker.

    Cheri Bustos is a competitive candidate. With President Obama creating a Democratic tide at the top, look for this race to go down to the wire.

  20. - QcPundit - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 2:58 pm:

    The fact of the matter is that had Cheri not babysat for Dick Durbin and had her father not been as connected as he is, Dave Koehler would be the nominee right now, not her.

    Can you really argue against that?

    What accomplishments does she have besides being an alderwoman? Have you see East Moline? As a former resident, I can say with authority that it’s a sad sight.

    Taxes are going up there, the city just posted a $1 million budget shortfall, $550,000 in misplaced TIF, a $40,000 welcome sign (that looks pretty good actually) and the highest unemployment rate in the Quad Cities.

    Sorry, I should have used those facts to belittle her.

  21. - Sentinel - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 3:51 pm:

    The key insight here is that Schilling is hardly the lost cause that some have tried to portray. He is smart and hard working and connects with people. The technically true but misleading narrative that democrats drew in inner city Peoria and Rockford to finish Schilling off was never the whole story.

    The whole story is that inner-city Springfield was taken OUT of the 17th along with Decatur and a southern tier of partial counties that were all democrat when they were put in the 17th in 2001. Plus 4 Republican counties: Carroll, Henry, Stephenson and Jo Daviess were added in.

    Mark Kirk, Bill Brady, Topinka and Rutherford all won the newly configured 17th District in the last election. Ok different turnout in presidential elections but still significant.

    Schilling also won by 10 points in the last election–it wasn’t close.

    Blown to bits is the false notion that Schilling cannot win in such a district. Watch Bustos get nasty real fast. But it won’t matter, Schilling resonates particularly well with voters in the 17th.

  22. - NW Illinois - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 5:39 pm:

    Don’t read too much into an early, name ID poll, folks.

  23. - Latte Liberal - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 6:09 pm:

    I’d say QcPundits comments verge near the ‘rabid’ category that might require at least some tacit moderation…

    But that said, addressing one of your last comments, I think it’s unfair to insinuate Bustos is the nominee instead of Koehler because of family connections.

    One key reason she rose to the top was her prolific fundraising capability, and whether you like it or not - the ability to raise money makes you a preferred pick by the DCCC (or RCCC for that matter).

  24. - Liandro - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 6:36 pm:

    @Word and others,

    When a sitting U.S. Senator is making calls to get other primary opponents out of the race, and the establishment blatantly puts its thumb on the scales, you sort of lose the right to wax self-righteous about someone’s “professional” credentials winning them a race. Her relationship with Durbin and others was the key “credential” pushing her win, and everyone who paid any attention at all to the primaries in this area (from both parties) knows it.

    While I wouldn’t describe her as a “babysitter”, my sentiments are pretty much the same–it’s clout and relationships that defined that primary race. I met her opponents, but she didn’t even bother showing up to those forums. As such, my knowledge of her mostly consists of Durbin-related news articles.

    That doesn’t mean she isn’t qualified…it just means we have no idea whether she is, since up til now she’s ran primarily on the reputation of other people, not issues or resume. That route to power might prove to be fatal in the general election against this particular Congressman–he has clearly earned his way to where he is. She has yet to prove she has.

  25. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:19 pm:

    1. Schilling’s favorables are at 42%.

    2. Obama leads by ten points.

    3. Are you sure this isn’t a Bustos poll?

  26. - Jon Zahm - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 10:44 pm:

    Schilling will win this race. He has very strong local candidates all around him that will help get out the vote. Senator Sullivan or the Rock Island former Mayor would have made this a race. But the liberal Bustos does not fit the working class Dem base well at all. Schilling is a former union worker and runs a family pizza restaurant. He is authentic and down to earth. She’s a big dollar marketing exec from the other side of the state line.

  27. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 30, 12 @ 11:17 pm:

    No offense, Jon, but weren’t you predicting a Santorum victory in Illinois just a few months ago?

  28. - RoxyM - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:40 am:

    The fact that Schilling is 16 ahead even though Obama leads by 10 is proof that voters think Schilling has done a pretty good job. Underestimating him is lethal. But go ahead, do it again. Please.

  29. - Louis Howe - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 3:49 am:

    Actually, the most interesting statistic is Obama’s 51% in a home state 60% democratic district. Looks like Obama is setup to seriously underperform the D numbers downstate and may end up losing this district. Shilling is very competitive at over 50% which means Bustos needs to step up the pace and run a very aggressive and creative campaign.

  30. - Paul - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 4:53 pm:

    Schilling paid for that poll. Public Opinion Strategies describes itself as a Republican pollster. I bet Schilling knew what he was buying.

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