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Poll: All six congressional races super tight

Friday, Oct 12, 2012

* We Ask America has released a set of new polls today. The surveys were taken Tuesday and Wednesday. All of the polls have margins of error of 3 or less, and all of the races are within the MoE. Check out Joe Walsh’s lead

* Democrat Cheri Bustos has moved into the lead, according to We Ask America

* The rest of the very close races

Subscribers have crosstabs and corresponding Obama-Romney results.

* My Sun-Times column was written before the above results were published. Also, for whatever reason, the paper’s Internet staff hasn’t posted it online yet. Here it is…

I checked my e-mail after dinner Wednesday night and just about sprayed my beverage onto my computer screen.

Republican Congressman Joe Walsh was crowing about a new poll that had him ahead of Democrat Tammy Duckworth.

What the heck? The loudmouthed tea partier leading a bona fide war hero in a district drawn to elect a Democrat?

But, yes, there it was. We Ask America polled 1,171 likely voters October 9th and had Walsh with 47.4 percent to Duckworth’s 45.9 percent - a one and a half point lead.

Walsh’s lead is within the poll’s +/- 2.9 percent margin of error. So, maybe he isn’t really ahead. But maybe he is.

Either way, this was the second poll taken by We Ask America in that district in about a week. The last one, conducted on October 3rd for me, had Walsh trailing by about six points, 50-44. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee conducted a poll the next day and had Walsh trailing by ten. 52-42. A poll taking by Public Policy Polling in mid-September had Walsh down by 14, 52-38.

Three polls in a row had Duckworth getting between 50 and 52 percent. But then the latest poll has her at 46.

What gives?

Well, if you average all four polls together, which is commonly done, you get Duckworth 50 to Walsh’s 43.

But things have changed a lot since President Obama got his hat handed to him in the October 3rd presidential debate. First Obama’s poll numbers tanked, and then down-ballot candidates started feeling the impact in their own polling.

So, it’s very possible, even quite likely, that Obama’s horrific performance in his first debate has had some very real impact on the Duckworth vs. Walsh contest.

The We Ask America poll taken the evening of the debate had Obama leading Mitt Romney in that congressional district by about eleven points, 51.4 to 40.6. The October 9th We Ask America Poll showed Obama’s lead had dropped to five points, 49-44.

Independents went from backing Obama 50-34 before the debate was over, to backing Romney 47-41 six days later. And men went from being strongly for Obama 50-41, to being marginally for Romney, 48-45. Among folks 65 and over, Obama initially led 48-43, but then trailed Romney 48-43 after the debate.

The same thing happened to Duckworth, only bigger. She was leading Walsh 52-39 among independents on October 3rd, and losing them 51-41 by October 9th. Duckworth led Walsh among men 50-45, but was then losing men 53-41. Her lead among seniors had been 50-44. But Walsh led among oldsters in the October 9th poll 51-43.

According to that last poll, Duckworth’s problems are obviously worse than the president’s. There’s a reason for that, too.

Two years ago, the Democrats didn’t take Walsh seriously and he defeated a sitting congresswoman by a couple of hundred votes. This time around, with a favorable new district map and what they believed was a strong candidate, they figured they had it in the bag. Early polling confirmed it. “Everybody” knew it.

But outside groups have spent well over $2 million on TV ads attacking Duckworth and also bolstering Walsh’s flagging image. Duckworth and the national Democrats and their friends with super PACs have not kept pace. So, Duckworth hasn’t been able to respond to the attacks.

This isn’t over. Duckworth isn’t cooked yet (and neither is Obama). But Walsh has always been a better campaigner than the Democrats have ever admitted. They need to wake up, or they just might lose to him again.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OneMan - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 9:46 am:

    That green number in the Plummer race is better than I would have figured, might end up helping Plummer

  2. - Cassiopeia - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 9:49 am:

    In the past when the Presidential challenger has stood alongside the incumbent and came off as seeming to be up to the job than the undecideds begin breaking towards the challenger by varying percentages. At this stage of the campaign people have actually made up their mind about the incumbent and if they are undecided it generally undecided about whether the challenger is someone they can vote for since they are not for, or are ambivalent towards the incumbent.

    Thus if the undecideds begin to break towards the Presidential challenger it is only natural that they may do the same for other offices.

  3. - Downstate - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 9:50 am:

    I think the polls are reflective of the general disgust that people have with the huge deficits and anemic economy. Polticians can point fingers at each other. But voters can only express their disgust by voting out the incumbent party.

    No matter what party the incumbent congresscritter is from, with Obama at the top of the ticket and the strong Democrat control of this state, voters see ANY democrat as the incumbent.

    There’s a reason the Democrat candidates in this state aren’t running ads with Obama….even in a state where we are told he is “beloved”.

  4. - western illinois - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 9:51 am:

    Those are high 3rd party numbers . It explains why there are so many ads the internals must show teh same thing. The QC stations are saturated with ads for Schilling/Bustos and Loebsack/Archer. It looks Like iowa has 3 close ones. The Midwest could decide the house as well.
    I have noticed fewer Obama/Romney ads I wonder if that means something

  5. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 9:55 am:

    The DCCC is going to be awfully red-faced if they don’t pull a few of these races out of the fire.

    There’s no shame in getting beat — unless you’re sloppy and out-hustled.

  6. - Shore - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 10:05 am:

    I’ve said for months here to the mockery and chagrin of many of you I thought that walsh was a crazy devil who could do this. I give you kudos for these polls.

  7. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 10:15 am:

    What’s happening in the Obama-Romney debate aftermath is a very big lesson for politicians and everyone else. When you have a lead or have an advantage, you need to press it home. You shouldn’t be complacent, listless or defensive. You have to dig deep and be prepared.

    I agree with Rich, that it’s not over for Obama or Duckworth. It is a wake-up call of epic proportions, and if Obama doesn’t defend his record and fight back against Romney in the next debate, the trend away from Obama and Duckworth is likely to continue.

  8. - OurMagician - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 10:18 am:

    The only ad I’ve seen downstate with a favorable mention or picture of Obama is one by Aaron Schock. “I’ve agreed with President Obama when he’s right (no example given) and disagreed when he’s wrong (over the words opposed Obama’s bailout)”

  9. - Colossus - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    Our Magician - do you happen to have a link to that video? I’d love to see Aaron try to say something nice about a Democrat. That guy makes my brain leak out my ear.

  10. - Responsa - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 11:10 am:

    The governor’s abysmal numbers are discussed in another thread here this morning. Does anyone believe the governor’s not also dragging down the Dem candidates thereby probably making several of these suburban congressional races much closer than anticipated? If many Dems don’t want ads associating them with the president or with Quinn, what does that say to voters?

  11. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 11:19 am:

    Here’s an anecdote from walking a precinct in Lombard west of Main Street and north of St. Charles last weekend. I was canvassing for Leslie Coolidge.

    I engaged a guy who owned a driving school business that was to be put out of business by a bill carried by Sen. Susan Garrett.

    The guy lobbied Springfield in conjunction with other driving school owners. He felt that he was consistently lied to by legislators Republican and Democrat.

    He was more upset with Democrats who he saw engineering the bill. If I understood him correctly, it was part of a plan to reduce the number of private driving schools in favor of increasing the number of drivers ed instructors in public schools. The idea was to give the unions representing teachers more money to sweeten the deal on an education bill that would increase charter schools, thereby reducing the # of teachers paying union dues.

    This individual said the legislators all said the bill didn’t do what it did. When called on being incorrect, they blamed Susan Garrett for lying to them. (This is seemed particularly credible to me since I saw Garrett play this card in Highland Park when she was asked about her vote to support construction of new nuclear plants in Illinois. “The committee chairman told me the bill was different.”)

    The guy described himself as a Democrat. And he did understand the difference between Congress and Springfield.

    But the Democratic Party has a brand problem in Illinois. It hasn’t done a very good job governing the state.

  12. - D.P. Gumby - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    We are seeing the effect both direct and indirect of all the Citizens United money. We knew it would impact, but didn’t know how. This volubility is certainly attributable, in part, to the disconcerting and uncontrolled multiple messages and attacks.

  13. - Shore - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 11:58 am:

    Carl for you to flip out on democrats takes a lot of courage and I applaud you for that.

    who are the 3rd party candidates hurting in those 2 races?

  14. - Telling It Like It Is - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 12:36 pm:

    I am afraid that many Democrat candidates are going to be roasted on a spit over an open fire due to Barack’s past term in office and linkage with Madigan & Quinn’s ineptness while in state government. Is it fair that someone like Tammy is “collateral damage” due to these inept characters? No, it isn’t.
    I am a Republican who is “not” a Joe Walsh fan. He is “a showboat” in my opinion and is in politics for self-enrichment rather than for the right reasons. If Tammy had run as a Republican this year she would have defeated Joe. The fact that it is even going to be a close outcome for Tammy & Joe is a glaring statement as to how damaging the Obama legacy is going to go down in the history books. Madigan and Quinn have been playing the fiddle for decades as they watched Illinois burn down around them. Tammy is going to catch some of the shrapnel from these self-destructing characters. Loyalty is normally a good personal character trait but “blind loyalty” is a disease that often proves fatal especially in politics.

  15. - Ghost of John Brown - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 1:01 pm:

    As always,the 3rd party candidate hurts the mainstream candidate closest to their own views. The Plummer/Enyart and Gill/Davis race both have left-leaning 3rd party candidates and the Repulican is ahead in the poll. That happens in 90+% of the cases where there is a 3rd party candidate.

  16. - Skeeter - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 1:20 pm:

    For a long time I’ve argued that the ILGOP just isn’t very good at the whole “get people elected thing.”

    However, when it comes to congressional races, the same can be said about Illinois Dems. The last tough race that they won was Bean. They haven’t been able to take the Kirk/Dold seat, couldn’t beat Roskam (and finally gave up) and now can’t beat people like Schilling and Plummer.

  17. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 1:29 pm:

    ===However, when it comes to congressional races, the same can be said about Illinois Dems. ===


  18. - Oh Yeah - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 1:40 pm:

    If some of these congressional races go to the GOP, especially Duckworth and Enyart, the DCCC will have a heckuva time getting any decent candidates to run anywhere outside Cook County for years to come. Look at how hard it was to get a decent candidate to step in for Costello. Now you have the two Army veterans running as Democrats, one a former general the other a combat injured double amputee both in presumably Democratic districts with one opposing a nutcase and the other opposing a silver-spooned kid, and you can’t bring it home? Geez! It’s not over ’til it’s over, though.

  19. - anon - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 1:40 pm:

    I think the Joe/Tammy numbers also say something about the candidates themselves, forget parties and view points for a second and look at it this way. One of those candidates has been everywhere in that community over the past six months. While the other…well hasn’t. No matter how you look at it Walsh is clearly trending upward. I wonder how Duckworth is going to be able to retake the lead, barring of course some massive victory by Obama in the next debate.

  20. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 2:02 pm:

    –Now you have the two Army veterans running as Democrats, one a former general the other a combat injured double amputee both in presumably Democratic districts with one opposing a nutcase and the other opposing a silver-spooned kid, and you can’t bring it home?–

    Well put. After recruiting candidates, the national Dems and their SuperPacs appear to have been phoning it in on those seemingly eminently winnable races.

    The state Dems gave them a map. It was the national Dems job to bring the the thunder.

    There’s no crying when you’re outhustled.

  21. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 3:04 pm:

    I think both things are reflective of the fact that, at least for the last 10 years, the Illinois Democratic Party has existed to elect Democratic legislators to Springfield whereas the Illinois Republican Party exists to send Republicans to D.C.

    @Telling It Like It Is
    Pretty hard to feel bad for Tammy getting tagged with any Obama baggage when Obama gave her an appointment she could use to tout her accomplishments in her bid for Congress and Rahm and Axelrod got her the primary victory over Raja.

    As for this post…
    The ads downstate are ridiculous right now. Where my parents are at (Schock’s district) they get CBS affiliates out of both Peoria and Champaign and they got so sick of the non-stop Bustos/Schilling ads on the Peoria station they changed to the CBS station out of Champaign just to change things up with Rodney Davis/David Gill attacks instead. Given how much negativity is being bombarded on the people of these districts it’s no surprise to me that 3rd party support is up, although I can’t tell for the life of me how Hartman differs on his positions from Gill. Is he there just to be a Dem spoiler for Metro East Dems or what?

  22. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 3:23 pm:

    Does anyone else think it’s odd to have poll results listed to two decimal places?

    Polls are by nature approximations.

    How’s it make sense to say 46.18% +/-3.5% to 95% certainty?

    Seems like there’s something not right here.

  23. - Madison - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 3:54 pm:

    When races are all this close, and all the GOP candidates are ahead (save one) we gotta consider either a trend or a bias.

  24. - western illinois - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 4:20 pm:

    Libral Daily Kos is downgrading IL 8 and blaming Pat Quinn……
    Obama has thrown everything into teh Swing States he isnt bothering to run up his totals in his base. Bush really wanted to win the popular vote in 2004 Obama has proved that. He needs to win Iowa and Ohio

  25. - Bakersfield - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 4:26 pm:

    I think you also have to wonder if the Dems bit off more than they could chew and tried to win one too many races with this map- they could very well pick up 3 seats and lose 1, which would still be good, but picking up 1 or 2 and losing to Plummer would make it a near disaster for being able to draw the entire map and have the home state President on the ballot.

  26. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 5:00 pm:

    –Obama has thrown everything into teh Swing States he isnt bothering to run up his totals in his base.–

    Well, yes, because the base is most of the country.

    Check out the Electoral College vote since 1992. It’s devastating to the GOP.

    Before then, the GOP put up landslides in 1972, lost a close one in 1976, and put up landslides in 1980, 1984, and 1988.

    The Electoral College has not been kind to the GOP since their drift to the right.

    C’mon, man.

    Are we going to have a country where Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and South Carolina are the base?

    Hell no.

    It’s going to be Illinois, New York, New England, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

    We’re Yankees. We’re the Good Guys.

    If the Rebs won, the capital would be in Richmond.

  27. - Former Downstater - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 5:36 pm:

    –Are we going to have a country where Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and South Carolina are the base?–

    Considering the Repubs’ numbers with Latinos, Texas won’t be in their base much longer.

  28. - western illinois - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 5:39 pm:

    Richmond is too far North more like Jackson

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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