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Poll shows collateral damage

Monday, Feb 3, 2014

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Without a doubt, the most overlooked aspect of Bruce Rauner’s multi million-dollar TV ad buy has been his advertising campaign’s repeated attacks on Gov. Pat Quinn.

“Career politicians are running our state into the ground, and Pat Quinn, he’s at the top of the heap,” Rauner says in one of his ads that have permeated the airwaves since last November. “Pat Quinn, a career politician who failed to deliver term limits,” a Rauner TV announcer declares in another spot.

The millions of dollars worth of ads are supposedly aimed at Republican primary voters, but, obviously, everybody else in the state is seeing them as well. And Quinn, who doesn’t have a well-funded primary opponent, hasn’t bothered to rebut any of Rauner’s multiple attacks. That could’ve been a huge mistake, particularly considering Illinois’ persistently high unemployment rates, the hostile national climate, the never-ending negative stories about the state’s finances and Quinn’s four-year history of low job performance scores.

If a new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll is accurate, then Rauner’s months-long unrebutted attacks have helped knock Quinn into a shockingly deep hole.

According to the poll of 1,354 likely general election voters, all four of Quinn’s potential Republican primary opponents have pulled ahead of the long-unpopular Democratic governor.

The poll, taken January 30th, found that Sen. Bill Brady leads Gov. Quinn 48-39. Sen. Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford are ahead of Quinn 46-37. And Rauner leads the governor 47-39.

The self-described party affiliation in the poll was 22 percent Republican and 38 percent Democratic, while 40 percent said they were independents. Nineteen percent of the polling universe was cell phone users.

“Pat Quinn has made a career out of overcoming the odds and the electorate clearly know more about him than the others,” said pollster Gregg Durham. “When that balances out, we may see a dramatically different picture.”

Yes, we may. But right now, voters know Pat Quinn and they really don’t like him.

According to the poll, which had a margin of error of +/-2.7 percent, a whopping 59 percent of likely voters disapprove of Gov. Quinn’s job performance. A mere 29 percent approve of his job performance and 12 percent were undecided.

The poll has Quinn leading his opponents in Chicago, but nowhere else. He’s ahead of Brady 63-25 in the city, and his lead there is similar against the other three as well.

But the Republicans average a surprising six-point lead over Quinn in the Cook County suburbs, which have been trending Democratic for years.

The margin was much higher in the collar counties, where the Republican field led Quinn by an average of 12 points each.

Downstate, though, Quinn is getting absolutely crushed. The GOP candidates’ average lead is a gigantic 30 percentage points each.

Take a look at the regional job approval breakdowns and you’ll see what’s behind this. According to the poll, a whopping 73 percent of Downstaters disapprove of Quinn’s job performance, while a mere 19 percent approve. Another 62 percent of collar county voters disapprove and just 32 percent approve. Suburban Cook voters disapprove of Quinn’s job performance by a 56-25 margin. Only in Chicago is Quinn above water, and even there, just 49 percent approve of his job performance, while 32 percent disapprove.

Among women, Quinn is doing just barely OK. He’s ahead of Brady and Rauner by a point, in front of Dillard by two points and trails Rutherford by a point.

Men, however, are going overwhelming for his Republican opponents. Brady leads Quinn by 24 points among men, Dillard leads him by 25 points and Rauner and Rutherford lead by 21 among males.

According to the poll, a mind-blowing 62 percent of men disapprove of Quinn’s job performance, while 57 percent of women disapprove. His approval ratings are abysmal. Just 24 percent of men approve, while 31 percent of women think he’s doing a good job.

The Republican candidates are also whomping the governor among independents, where they’re averaging a 56-24 lead.

The bottom line here is that the mostly union-financed TV advertising attacks on Bruce Rauner, which will supposedly kick off this week, had better do their magic and disqualify the newcomer or the kabillionaire candidate will just stay on the air until the fall, keeping his advertising foot on the governor’s already hobbled political neck for the rest of the year. It won’t be pretty.

Subscribers, of course, have complete crosstabs and all questions.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


12 Comments
  1. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 10:07 am:

    If I’m not mistaken, Quinn was consistently losing to Brady in the polls during the last election, even losing to him by something like nine points just before the election.

    It’s still very early, and if there’s any consolation for Quinn, it’s that he probably has nowhere to go but up.


  2. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    At least he’s still more popular than Blago.

    I think.


  3. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    Those are terrible numbers for Quinn.

    I can’t see how he’d respond with paid media at this point, however. What a muddle that would be before the primary.

    He’s going to have to ride it out and then whack hard starting in the summer. He’d be best off with Rauner. He’s a walking, talking negative spot.


  4. - Upon Further Review - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    I dislike Quinn’s posturing as a “Progressive” or a “Populist,” but, whenever push comes to shove, he rolls over and sells out. His political alliance with former State Senate President Emil Jones has almost destroyed the credibility and reputation of Chicago State University. Quinn could have appointed new trustees to rectify the situation and oust the boodlers, but he was more concerned with keeping the institution as a patronage plantation for those who deliver for him in the precincts. In past months, there have been discussions of activities at U of I and SIU, but CSU seldom gets scrutinized. It ought to given the headlines in both Chicago papers.


  5. - Statesman - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    The ILGOP is probably wise to NOT put too much credence into these numbers. Do we need to talk about Brady’s lead in 2010 and how that turned out. Keep your heads down and keep working against Quinn - not against each other knuckle heads.


  6. - langhorne - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    ABQ — anybody but quinn


  7. - CollegeStudent - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:24 pm:

    @Upon Further Review

    I’ve gotten the sense that Chicago State didn’t have much of a reputation or credibility to begin with. I think the bigger complaint is how the state is throwing good money after bad by steering resources to Chicago State that could really be used by the “directionals”


  8. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    I know people disapprove of Quinn, but the real question is are all these GOP and Middle-Right Independents going to be able to unite around one candidate after March 18th. This GOP gubernatorial primary has been getting uglier every week and the union-financed TV ads aren’t even up yet.

    I can’t see Brady, Dillard, or Rutherford endorsing Rauner after the primary if he wins. Also with Rauner you have social-conservatives who will be staying home on November 4th because they have no reason to vote or motivation to.


  9. - jake - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    The most certain thing about this campaign is that it will be ugly. I don’t believe there is a single candidate among the five that most people either like or admire. And before the campaign is over they will like or admire even the winner less than they do now. It will not be for those of weak stomach or faint heart.


  10. - Esteban - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 4:07 pm:

    Does anyone else think that Bill Daley maybe
    regrets dropping out of the race?


  11. - jake - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 6:11 pm:

    Bill Daley just did not have the stomach for doing what has to be done to win an election in Illinois. The person I really wish was in is Kwame Raoul.


  12. - Just The Way It Is One - Monday, Feb 3, 14 @ 7:37 pm:

    That was meant to read above: “…off by almost 3%…!”


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