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Rothenberg moves governor’s race to “toss up”

Friday, Feb 28, 2014

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Walker - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    Rauner makes it a toss up, as a wild-card anti-incumbent. He will bank on enough people feeling angry and frightened for the future.

    The outcome will depend greatly on voter perceptions of the Illinois economy when the polls open.

  2. - Nonplussed - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    Rich, as you’ve pointed out in the past, the 7.5 months between primary and general greatly benefits incumbents. Two weeks worth of ads made Rauner plateau. What will 7.5 months do?

  3. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    Never knew it was a “Lean Democrat.”

    From the polls I’ve seen, Quinn’s in trouble against any GOP nominee.

    It’s not like Quinn has been a big vote-getter in his winning races over the years. The ones he’s won have been way tight.

  4. - SAP - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:28 pm:

    What are the odds of a 3d party parachuting into the race after the primary? Could the Democratic Party find a sacrificial lamb/spoiler?

  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:28 pm:

    I speculated on the $50 million number, Ruch said to think “higher”, and marry that with the dismal polling of Quinn today, how can Illinois NOT be a toss-up today with all that baggage dragging on Quinn’s bad numbers.

    Very appropriate to be toss-up.

  6. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:29 pm:

    ===Two weeks worth of ads made Rauner plateau. What will 7.5 months do? ===

    The only person who has that kind of money is Rauner.

  7. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    Rauner`s still giving me a ride to the polls twice.

  8. - Norseman - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:40 pm:

    My problem is that thinking of either of these two gentleman being governor makes me want to toss up.

    That’s why Willy’s my candidate for Governor.

  9. - foster brooks - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    where are the flamethrower rauner attack ads?

  10. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:49 pm:

    - Norseman -,

    It’s your Crew to lead this ship, you see the Field…

  11. - downstate commissioner - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:50 pm:

    Rutherford vs Quinn, Rutherford gets my vote. Last time I voted for Whitney, this time I will probably have to hold my nose and vote for Quinn…

  12. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 3:50 pm:

    Have to agree with my partners at AWillyWord Con$ulting. The Rauner money machine and precise messaging will be hard for Quinn to handle. His past campaigns have been, well, uneven. Hiring a campaign pro recently suggests that he recognizes what he’s up against.

  13. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    It’s fitting. Rothenberg is right. It’s close alright–closer than most folks think. The Election in November is AGES away in realistic Polictical Terms, you just never can count Quinn out as he’s deFINitively proven rePEATedly before (e.g. 1990 Race for Il. Treasurer, Primary AND General, was aNOTHer case in point), and, most recently, the daily ANTI-Rauner TV Ads ARE taking their toll on him already just in the PRImary, with the GENeral Election 8 1/2 months away!!!

  14. - Frosty-The Snowman - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:11 pm:

    Quinn won because: #1) he had a weak field of potential GOP gubernatorial competitors facing him, #2) The Chicago and Cook County Democrat Party did what they always do so well-once again they got out the union vote and the minority vote (and the phantom Chicago GOP didn’t), #3) Bill Brady’s campaign advisor (and Bill himself) ran a hastily thrown together second-rate campaign effort in the Chicago area. Bill should have been walking and talking in Chicago’s black & Hispanic communities and churches.

    Despite the comedy of campaign errors by Brady, he still managed to only lose by 30,000 votes across the state. That tells me that any one of these GOP gubernatorial candidates can win the governor’s race this time. Pat Quinn can’t blame the ongoing state financial disaster on his inheriting it from Blagojevich. Just like Barack can’t keep passing off his disasters by blaming George W. Bush. Too much time has gone by and they have written their own records now. If Rauner wins the Primary, he needs to be groomed by the GOP trainers on how to talk intelligently about “how he is going to fix things” instead of trying to artfully dodge any relevant questions asked by the media between now and November. Otherwise, Bruce Rauner is soon going to be a GOP “flash in the pan” by November. People see him dodging media questions but have been cutting him some slack because he is “the new kid” and he can’t be expected to know everything “yet”. But he better be a quick learner because his “cut him some slack” card is about to expire on March 18, 2014.

  15. - Smoggie - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:12 pm:

    Speaking of third parties, I do wonder how the right will respond to a Rauner win.

    As Rich’s Crain’s column noted, some big money on the far right is with Rauner, but I’m not sure the rank and file is really in board.

    That seems to leave an opening for a vanity third party ticket of something like Proft/Walsh.

    I’m sure there are others on the far right who might consider it.

  16. - Wensicia - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:17 pm:

    A lot could happen in 7.5 months. Quinn has to turn Rauner into a real scary guy and I think he could do this. His problem is getting out the vote, something he’ll need more than just union support and money to achieve.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:17 pm:

    - Smoggie -,

    A “Bill Kelly” entrance or an Adam A. means trouble for Rauner, just as Oberweis is a killer for Rauner too.

    Be it Adam A, or Bill Kelly, no shot as a 3rd Party type; think Ross Perot. Quinn would love that.

    Besides, - Norseman - has the disenchanted ready for Willy/Bill …

  18. - Samurai - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:19 pm:

    ==That seems to leave an opening for a vanity third party ticket of something like Proft/Walsh==

    Now that will really be a clown show.

  19. - Raunerbot - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:20 pm:

    Has anyone told Dillard and Brady that they lost the primary yet?

  20. - DuPage - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:29 pm:

    foster brooks@3:43PM=where are the flamethrower Rauner attack ads?=

    The napalm is being loaded now. Prepare for 24/7 attack ads until election day.

    Attention TV station employees: If you want a raise, this year is a good time to ask. The stations are going to make good money on this.

  21. - Smoggie - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:32 pm:

    Bill Kelly was one I had thought of too.
    I agree Quinn would love it.
    However, there is enough ego on the part of particularly those three (I don’t know much about Adam A) to suspect they might try it.

  22. - Mighty M. Mouse - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:42 pm:

    If the majority of the people in Illinois allow Illinois’ latest incarnation of Rod Blagojevich, Bruce Rauner, to be elected governor, I can live with that. I’ve been fortunate to do very well financially, so I’m sure he’ll be good for me.

    As for the not-so-fortunate “99%,” perhaps I can try to share in the sadistic pleasure as Rauner starts dismantling the social safety net and they quickly come to realize that the Carhartt jacket they elected hides a latter-day Rod Blagojevich, if not another Colonel Kurtz. I’ll do all that I can to help Quinn, so my conscience will be clean.

  23. - Anonimo - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 4:57 pm:

    Walter Payton College Prep is not a charter school. It’s a selective enrollment CPS high school - just like Northside College Prep and Whitney Young.

  24. - William j Kelly - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 5:03 pm:

    I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I am not an independent conservative candidate for governor. But if I were, I would drive results for the people of Illinois…not Rahm Emanuel.

  25. - railrat - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 5:10 pm:

    the IDNR implosion will be the breakaway for the GOP if they get it

  26. - Oneman - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 5:18 pm:

    Glad we got the is Kelly running question out of the way…

  27. - Oneman - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 5:20 pm:

    The two things I think help Bruce significantly in the general are.

    Rev Meeks, assuming he comes out and works for Bruce, it isn’t going to do Quinn any favors in Cook County.

    Being Pro-Choice. The scary mail that will be sent out can be countered with his own words. Yeah it will cause some GOP voters to stay home but I think it helps him more with suburban moms IMHO.

  28. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 5:39 pm:

    –Walter Payton College Prep is not a charter school. It’s a selective enrollment CPS high school - just like Northside College Prep and Whitney Young.–


    Rauner Prep ia charter school, not a selective enrollment school.

    For Rauner, Rauner Prep wasn’t good enough for a Rauner.

    That’s like when John Stroger stroked out, John Stroger Hospital wasn’t good enough for John Stroger. C’mon, man. The ambulance drove right by and went to Rush.

    Can you dig it?

    That’s like out of Monty Python.

    Rauner had such contempt for humanity that New Trier or U of C or any of the great private high schools in the region and the country were not good enough as Rauner Prep.

    But he wants the tax money for his charter schools, and to run the show in inner-city schools, and thinks teachers are parasites because of their pensionz

    He wanted what he wanted, and he had the bucks to make it happen — as the ultimate political insider.

    Some deserving Chicago kid got hosed when Rauner bigfooted Arnnie Duncan (aka, scumbag). And that’a a crying shame.

    For crying out loud, have we all lost all minds here? Can you not see the contempt for the people?

  29. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 5:54 pm:

    Preach it - wordslinger -, it’s a crazy world and Bruce Rauner wants to own it, define it, divide it, and rule it…

    In the name of shaking it up.

    Monty Python indeed.

    With you till the last dog dies.

  30. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 6:46 pm:


    Rauner’s true feelings for Latinos was on display last night if people were paying attention. He’s got another 7 months to make more mistakes like that.

  31. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 7:04 pm:

    - RNUG -,

    That was tough to watch; Dillard and Rauner had stumbles on the Latino voters issue.

  32. - foster brooks - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 7:34 pm:

    divide and conquer, those cheeseheads to the north bought it will illinois fall victum to the 1% steamroller?

  33. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 7:42 pm:


    Yeah, not that he was the only one, but I had an immediate cringe when Rauner did it.

  34. - Mcleaniac - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 7:43 pm:

    The status quo in Springfield is old , crusty and corrupt. The insider political class such as they are , has run our state into the ground. Rauner is the man that cannot be bought or bullied by the slick dilletantes that infest our star Capitol. Electing Rauner end their feeding at the trough and at the expense of our future. I don’t know which is worse : Brady , Dillard or Rutherford or the kind of people that cling to them and curry their favor. Rauner will smash the insider clique and the hardworking citizens of Illinois will be better off for it. !

  35. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 7:48 pm:

    ===The insider political class such as they are , has run our state into the ground. Rauner is the man that cannot be bought or bullied by the slick dilletantes that infest our star Capitol. Electing Rauner end their feeding at the trough and at the expense of our future…===


    “The insider political class such as Bruce Rauner, has run our state into the ground. Rauner is the man that will try to buy or bully his insider cronies that infest our star Capitol. Electing Rauner will continue the feeding at the trough and at the expense of our future”

    There. Better.

  36. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 7:51 pm:

    - RNUG -,

    Oh, agreed. Rauner’s was blatant and such a look into theirs of how his 1% mind thought nothing of denying a possible Latina or Latino Chicago child, so his denied Suburban Daughter could take that spot from a worthy child.

    “Low income” was the slip I recall…

  37. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 7:53 pm:

    “…into Rauner’s thoughts and how his 1% mind…”


  38. - Norseman - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 8:49 pm:

    Mcleaniac, I’m more partial to Underdog coming to our rescue. Although, I could live with Batman. Either superhero would work in your delusional universe.

  39. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 8:57 pm:

    OW, that’s correct. The farmer stepped in a big cow patty right then.

    O/T, but thanks to Rich for keeping the “shop” open late tonight. Much appreciated.

  40. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 10:15 pm:


    Right now I think we’d have more luck changing things with Sherman, Mr Peabody and the WABAC machine.

  41. - Under Further Review - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 10:17 pm:

    The highly questionable “anti-violence” initiative of 2010, which was criticized by the Auditor General, has finally registered with the mainstream media. Quinn was on television today playing defense. The story has not penetrated the national news that is still caught up with Chris Christie, but this story has the potential to be equally bad, if not worse, for Pat Quinn.

  42. - Norseman - Friday, Feb 28, 14 @ 10:28 pm:

    RNUG, I bow to your better idea.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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