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PPP: Brady up by seven, Topinka ahead by 20 and Rutherford up by 8

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* Two publicly released polls in two days showing a single digit governor’s race. Something’s up. Subscribers know one theory. From Public Policy Polling

Bill Brady continues to lead the Illinois Governor’s race but Pat Quinn’s pulling a little closer, trailing 42-35 in PPP’s newest survey of the race. Independent Scott Lee Cohen gets 6%, Green Party candidate Rich Whitney is at 4%, and Libertarian Lex Green is at 2%.

Quinn’s doing better than he was in an August PPP poll, when he trailed by 9, largely because of an improved standing with independents. He continues to trail Brady 39-27 with them, but that’s a significant improvement from his 25 point deficit in the last poll. Quinn is incredibly unpopular with independent voters, at an 18/67 approval spread. But those voters don’t like Brady either, viewing him negatively 32/38.

It’s amazing that Quinn’s still in this given his continuing incredible unpopularity. 60% of voters in the state now disapprove of the job he’s doing to only 24% who are happy with it. In addition to those dreadful numbers with independents only 6% of Republicans think he’s doing a good job and even with Democrats he’s at just a 42/38 spread. But he’s fortunate that GOP voters nominated a very weak candidate themselves. Only 36% of folks in Illinois see Brady in a favorable light while 44% have a negative opinion of him.

The two biggest things to watch in this race over the final five weeks are the undecideds and the 10% of voters currently leaning either toward Cohen or Whitney.

The undecideds are an overwhelmingly Democratic bunch. 67% voted for Barack Obama while only 20% supported John McCain. They’re planning to vote Democratic for Congress by a 44-17 margin this fall. They’re supporting Alexi Giannoulias by a 21 point margin over Mark Kirk. But they don’t like Pat Quinn- only 14% of them approve of him with 42% disapproving. Whether their Democratic loyalties outweigh their dislike of Quinn in the end may determine whether he can still pull out this race despite his very poor personal numbers.

The folks supporting Cohen or Whitney right now are also a Democratic leaning bunch. 52% voted for Obama to only 32% who supported McCain. They’re planning to vote Democratic for Congress by a 43-28 margin. But they really hate Quinn- 4% approve of him and 83% disapprove of him.

If you allocate all of the undecideds who voted for Obama to Quinn and the ones who voted for McCain to Brady, the Brady lead shrinks to 44-43. My guess is that most of the undecideds will indeed end up in the Quinn camp and make this a much closer race. Quinn’s path with the Whitney and Cohen voters is tougher though and he needs to hope those folks’ dislike of him isn’t so strong that they’ll go so far as to vote for Brady to get him out.

This is a pretty fascinating race.

Yes, it is. That undecided info is also quite interesting. The question is whether the Democrats can keep them moving their way and then turn those people out. From the company’s president…

“Things are starting to look a little more encouraging for Pat Quinn than they did earlier in the summer,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “He remains personally unpopular but the minor candidates are starting to pick up some of the anti-Quinn instead of it all going to Brady.”

That can happen in a multi-candidate race. You slam the other guy, but those voters don’t automatically go to you if they have other options. It’s the biggest reason why Rich Whitney scored 10 percent four years ago.

* Methodology…

PPP surveyed 470 likely Illinois voters from September 23 to 26. The survey’s margin of error is +/-4.5%.

* Crosstabs are here.

* Meanwhile, the pollster also had some very good news for Republicans Judy Baar Topinka and Dan Rutherford

Notice, however, that they didn’t poll the two third-party candidates. Not good.

posted by Rich Miller
Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:01 am


  1. I agree that it’s not good that the polls didn’t include all candidates. The governor race will have five candidates, and the other statewide races will have four candidates. All polls, since Aug. 27, should have included all of the candidates.

    Comment by Conservative Veteran Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:05 am

  2. What strange times we live in.

    A poll comes out showing the Dem incumbent with a 60% Disapproval rating and the support of only 35% of likely voters. Yet the same poll is a source of optimism for him, lol.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:09 am

  3. Rich, todays poll is pretty close to what others besides the CNN poll have shown. Flaws in that poll were obvious, and to include it to try and show any trend is stretching it a tad. Assuming those who voted for Obama two years ago will break the same way for Quinn is stretching it even more. This isn’t 2008.

    Comment by ANON Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:19 am

  4. ===Rich, todays poll is pretty close to what others besides the CNN poll have shown.===

    The last two publicly released polls showed a much wider lead for Brady. Fox News had it at ten and Rasmussen had it at 13.

    If you want to know more, though, you need to subscribe. There is a definite pattern here.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:24 am

  5. Only in Illinois would a wave/change election bring back retreads like Topinka and Rutherford. God help us.

    Comment by just sayin' Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:27 am

  6. Those are separate tracking polls Rich. Different methodology leads to different numbers, you know that. The last PPP poll had it at 9 points. 2 points is not a big shift.

    Comment by ANON Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:30 am

  7. If personal appeal is what Quinn needs he should dust off that “lifetime of fighting for you” ad he used in the primary (isn’t another Gov. candidate using that strategy already?).

    It was the only ad I ever saw that made me think “Pat Quinn is a good person” - maybe it would help.

    Comment by Siriusly Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:32 am

  8. Anon, you have to look at averages, not individual movement.

    And you have to look at more than just these two polls.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:32 am

  9. Just sayin’, isn’t Quinn about the biggest retread out there? Yet, you have no problem supporting him…. And, out of curiosity, what is the margin of error of those other polls showing the race being more one-sided, if anyone knows?

    Comment by Heartless Libertarian Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:32 am

  10. To add, most races tighten down the stretch, that more often than not is a natural trend and not necessarily a sign of momentum shift. Quinn’s basically been as low as possible the last few months, so him gaining a little back isn’t shocking

    Comment by ANON Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:33 am

  11. It is very hard to see how Quinn can get above his 35-38% level with 60%+ having and unfavorable view of him.

    Therefore Brady wins by just maintaining his 42-45 level.

    The movement of the undecideds and 3rd parties is an amusing sideshow.

    The Quinn folks will of course be giddy and delusional. They are running the campaign like they run state government.

    Comment by Taylor Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:37 am

  12. Rich, I look at tracking numbers in each poll. If every poll shows a shift beyond the margin of error over a few weeks, that’s a trend. One outlier showing it tied and the others showing a statistically insignificant difference is not. Averages that take into account polls with screwy methodology are flawed.

    Comment by ANON Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:38 am

  13. Rutherford is a retread?

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:41 am

  14. Word,
    You’re right it is weird. Both parties got the candidates they most wanted to run against. So the voters are left with choosing between a candidate who doesn’t have a plan versus a candidates whose plan won’t work. It kind of reminds me of the Carter-Reagan race. What a choice! The honset candidate with a big heart but who was obviously an incompetent bumbler or the right wing pitchman for 20 mule team Borax who was quite possibly insane or at least not very bright.
    We know how that turned out. People I run into who are old enough to remember that race are swinging to Brady even though they are (were?) lifelong Dems. They have had it with the Madigan, Daley, Blagojevich, Rahm, Obama, Berrios, Pelosi, Reid, Cullerton, Meeks, Emil, Quinn party. They would rather take their chances with the unknown.
    Quinn’s biggest problem in this race, aside from the many others, is that he actually was governor for a couple of years and made things even worse when many thought that was not possible. He’s just an accident waiting to happen. Who knows? Maybe Brady would surround himself with people who actually have a clue like Dillard. Nah…probably not. I’m still undecided.

    Comment by Bill Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:45 am

  15. And, Anon, I don’t think this is about a “naturally” tightening race. A poll taken just a few days ago for Fox had it at 10. There’s something else going on behind the numbers.

    Hint: Look at the Tribune poll.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:50 am

  16. Bill, I understand your point, but I think you underestimate Reagan a great deal. He was neither insane nor stupid. But he didn’t mind some folks thinking that when it suited his purposes.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:53 am

  17. Until I see further proof beyond just MoE shifts, I’ll just have to respectfully agree to disagree.

    Comment by ANON Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:55 am

  18. Yeah I guess you’re right. Everything turned out OK. Aricept is a wonderful thing.

    Comment by Bill Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:57 am

  19. Not only did they not poll all of the candidates; but the survey actually has false information on it. There is a statement that says, for example, “The candidates for State Treasurer are Democrat Robin Kelly and Republican Dan Rutherford.” That’s not a question–it’s a false and misleading statement.

    Comment by Squideshi Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:00 pm

  20. The gov’s race is a 5-8 point race. It will probably stay that way until the end due to numerous factors. Nate Silver has the spread at 52-44 for Brady. This does not include 3rd party candidates, which will have some impact.

    At the end of the day, the polls can “tighten” or expand all they want and we can be told hundreds, if not thousands, of lies in the next month. It won’t change the fact that Brady wins due to an underwhelming campaign (and tenure) of Quinn.

    Barring a meltdown of epic porportions, this race is O-V-A-H.

    Comment by Logical Thinker Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:03 pm

  21. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 11:32 am:

    “Anon, you have to look at averages, not individual movement.

    And you have to look at more than just these two polls.”

    Truer words were never spoken. However, I agree with much of what Nate Silver says in his analysis of polling data. You can’t just look at the polling numbers, or the averages of various polls. Nate looks at the likelihood of a race’s outcome including current data and past trends. While he will undoubtedly include these recent polls in his modeling, he currently has Brady as a 91% chance winner. Remember, Silver is often considered a liberal pollster and analyst, but his methodology looks sound. Warning, his posts can be a bit wonky, but are always clearly written.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:04 pm

  22. ===he currently has Brady as a 91% chance winner===

    I love Nate, but I’ve discovered a huge problem with the way many of these polls were conducted. The average he’s looking at is way off, and his percentage of likelihood is therefore off.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:05 pm

  23. Rich,

    The average only plays a part in Silver’s calculations, and not necessarily that large of one at that. He uses several parameters that are not effected by any one poll result. We will need to see several polls with numbers similar to the CNN poll to change the probability of Quinn’s chances in any significant degree. One thing Nate does mention, if he does not predict some races correctly, he is not using the correct factors for his odds. For instance if he predicts 90% in 100 races, if 10 races are not called wrong, his odds were wrong. If only 1 race is wrong, he should bump his results from 90% to 99%. His methodology is the gold standard for MLB, and only newly developed for politics, but he uses more historical data than any other analyst I know short of Sabato, Cook and Barone.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:16 pm

  24. Of all the the authorities to appeal to about polling, Nate Silver is the silliest. His methods are the political equivalent of a mortgage-backed security: a seemingly neat and simple number that masks fundamental errors, outliers and basic uncertainties in its data.

    Silver has a lot of admittedly interesting math techniques that amount to granting a finality to polling that simply doesn’t exist.

    Comment by Dirt Digger Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:23 pm

  25. Congratulations, A.Schwartz, you’re banned for life.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:24 pm

  26. It is reasonable to assume that in the races for Comptroller and for State Treasurer, polling results are more the result of name recognition, since most voters haven’t focused any attention on those races (the absence of the Green and Libertarian Party candidates in the poll questions makes the results even more distorted). Topinka is a former statewide office-holder and the GOP candidate for Governor in 2006 while Rutherford has run statewide in the past. Neither of their Democratic opponents has run statewide before. Perhaps in a couple of weeks, when voters start looking at these races, a poll (that includes all candidates on the ballot) might have some validity. This one is largely garbage.

    Comment by fedup dem Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:37 pm

  27. Fedup dem how much money do Miller and Kelly have? How much attention do you feel voters will pay to their races?

    Comment by Dirt Digger Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:40 pm

  28. Dirt Digger,

    But he uses ALL the polling, and ALL the margins of error, and ALL of the historical data to make his predictions, which, like the polls themselves are only a guess at what the actual results will be. Remember too, that a gut feeling has a 50-50 chance of predicting an election in the future, unless your named God.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 12:46 pm

  29. Dirt Digger, you cynic you, every voter spends these last few weeks analyzing the Comptroller and Treasurer race. Don’t you? And I am sure these lopsided numbers will really help Miller and Robin raise lots of campaign cash to get their message out.

    Nothing is ever done in this campaign until 7:01pm on election night (or later then that if you live in Chicago). But it would take an awful lot to change the trajectory of the Comptroller and Treasurer races.

    Comment by Raising Kane Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 1:00 pm

  30. I hated Nate Silver because I thought he was a know-it-all snob who came off as arrogant. HOWEVER, there is no doubting his record. He hit the 2008 presidential election on the nose. His methodology, while not perfect, is the best there is today.

    I’ll put my money on him over anyone else at this time.

    Comment by Logical Thinker Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 1:11 pm

  31. It appears to me that all you Brady backers greatest fear is beginning to happen and your candidate is being found out. This leads me to believe that you might not to be so cocky if the your candidate’s greatest strength is that nobody knows who he is. Just sayin.

    Comment by Phineas J. Whoopee Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 2:40 pm

  32. Wait, we’re supposed to be scared that Brady is being “found out” as compared to Quinn being already known?


    Comment by Logical Thinker Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 4:18 pm

  33. I dont really think that Brady or his supporter have to much to worry about Brady being found out. For that matter if you compare this PPP poll with the previous one that they did doesnt seem to indicate a weaken of support for Brady, since Brady numbers increased too. Given the margin of errors, I dont think you can really call the reduction of the gap between Brady and Quinn from 9 to 7 to be that great of improvement for Quinn.

    Comment by RMW Stanford Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 4:54 pm

  34. “…the polls themselves are only a guess at what the actual results will be.”

    @Cincinnatus- You’ve once again reveled your fundamental misunderstanding of politics and campaigns. You couldn’t be more wrong. A poll is NOT a predicition of what the actual of results will be, it meant to be a snapshot in time of voter sentiment.

    Spin it any way you want, this will not (and never was going to) be a Brady cake walk.

    Comment by Wizard of Ozzie Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 5:00 pm

  35. Heartless Libertarian, just because I think Bill Brady is a shallow empty suit who chose gassing puppies in mass to be his signature bill in the senate, doesn’t mean I’m supporting Quinn.

    Comment by just sayin' Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 5:45 pm

  36. I see a wave coming. Their will be heavy republican voting Nov.2.. the sea will change to demand had everything and screwed it up. People are angry. I think bill Brady and Jason plummer will suprise people.

    Comment by ironman Thursday, Sep 30, 10 @ 6:24 pm

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