* Stu Rothenberg has moved the Illinois governor’s race from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss-Up.” The ratings change was made because of Bruce Rauner’s strengths and Gov. Pat Quinn’s weaknesses…
That doesn’t mean that Quinn can trail in all the polls and win once again. He has four years of incumbency and unpopularity to overcome, and can’t rely on third party candidates getting a sizable chunk of the vote this November. But it should give some pause at projecting Quinn’s demise.
It looks like Rauner successfully navigated the primary but the general election will be another story. His personal resources will be an asset but he has shown some vulnerability as a first-time candidate. Rauner’s critics point out his multiple stances on a minimum wage increase as a good example. And Democrats are likely to try and portray Rauner as the Illinois version of Mitt Romney — a wealthy Republican who is out of touch with regular people. Rauner has multiple homes and has already been criticized for trying to get his daughter into a exclusive charter school.
Quinn has been a political survivor. He looked like a loser in 2010 and won. He looked like he couldn’t get out of the Democratic primary this year and cleared the field. Quinn shouldn’t be counted out. That said, the governor’s poor job approval numbers can’t be ignored, and we have growing doubts about his re-election prospects. Because of that, we are changing our rating of the race slightly from Lean Democrat to Toss-Up.
Quinn trailed badly in most polls before the 2010 election day because most pollsters weren’t including all the third party candidates in their surveys. The ones who did include everybody had a much more accurate read of what was really going on. I hammered pollsters for weeks in the run-up to election day back then after I figured out what was happening. Yes, Quinn won when by all rights (huge GOP landslide year) he maybe should’ve lost, but the election was only a lot closer than most predicted because their data was garbage.