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New poll released in Senate Democratic primary

Thursday, Dec 3, 2009

* I’m not sure why anyone would release a poll that showed themselves at one percent, but whatever

To: Jacob Meister Campaign Team
From: Dave Fako, Fako & Associates, Inc.
Re: Meister for Senate Benchmark Survey

The U.S. Senate Democratic Primary election is wide open, without a dominant frontrunner and Giannoulias in a weak position.

• Nearly half (49%) of Democratic primary voters are uncommitted in the election for U.S. Senator.

• Giannoulias holds a marginal lead in the primary with 33% of the vote. A significant majority (61%) of Alexi’s support is weak and vulnerable.

• Despite a late entry into the race, Meister starts in a similar position as Hoffman and Jackson. Meister holds 11% name recognition and earns 1% in the initial trial heat of the election, indicating significant growth potential.

• Hoffman’s name ID is very low (25% name recognition) and he gets 7% in the trial heat. Robinson-Jackson is recognized by 32% of the Illinois’ Democratic primary voters and starts with 10% of the vote in the primary election.

Fako is a good pollster, and he knows Illinois, so these results are trustworthy. It breaks down thusly…

Giannoulias 33%
Jackson 10%
Hoffman 7%
Meister 1%
Uncommitted 49%


• Giannoulias has a very weak job performance grade as State Treasurer. Only 36% of Democrats rate his performance positively while 30% rate it negatively. One-third of all Democratic primary voters cannot rate his performance as Treasurer.

The high negative kinda surprises me, but the “cannot rate” doesn’t. Statewide officials below secretary of state are usually unknown quantities to voters, especially during their first terms. Heck, Comptroller Hynes has struggled to bring up his name ID and he’s in his third term.

Meister also did an “informed” trial heat, meaning push questions. He doesn’t tell us what those push questions were, but this is how it ended up…

• In the informed test, Meister captures twice as many undecided voters as the other candidates. His message persuades nearly one-third (30%) of all uncommitted voters to
back him. Among initial undecided voters, Hoffman only gets 16%, Giannoulias takes
14% and Jackson only moves 9%. One-third of initial undecided voters remain
uncommitted in the informed trial heat.

That still leaves Giannoulias solidly on top.

MOE is +/- 4.03%, poll conducted November 17–19, 590 likely Democratic primary voters.

…Adding… Giannoulias’ campaign manager, Tom Bowen, has posted some of his campaign’s own poll numbers in comments. According to Bowen, Giannoulias’ job approval numbers are 60-17, far different than the Meister poll. The Giannoulias poll was taken Nov 12-16, of 600 likely voters, and had an MOE of +/- 3.9 percent.

* Related…

* Bernard Schoenburg: Senate candidates’ Afghan views are widely varied

* Democratic candidates for Senate split on Afghanistan

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 9:39 am:

    OMG…more bad news for GOPs. Their zillion man march for the gov nomination fails to draw a spec of attention from Democratic Governors’ Assoc….Politico reports..”…the party would launch early attacks on the GOP’s top recruits. The group today launched a new website,, which singles out former eBAY CEO Meg Whitman in California, former Rep. Scott McInnis in Colorado, Attorney General Bill McCollum in Florida, former Gov. Terry Branstad in Iowa and former Rep. John Kasich in Ohio. Markell said that the DGA would spend at least $1 million on each of these races to “educate” voters about the GOP candidates, with other targets yet to come….”
    What a group of shocking failures.

  2. - Lee - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 9:42 am:

    Giannoulias is on th wrong side of the Afghanistan issue. This policy will blow up on Obama and impact democrats running next year. Especially, if the Republican opponent has taken the same position. The best policy is to withdraw troops now.

  3. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 9:44 am:

    What is so surprising is how correct were the fears of the Obamaites regarding Giannoulais. I have more respect for their efforts to circumnavigate around The Banker’s Son towards The Speaker’s Daughter now that this data has been released.

    Giannoulais is getting beaten up unfairly because of his political position during this troubling economic time. Additionally, his mistakes in office regarding Bright Start hurt, as well as his mistake of his appearance driving around in a Ford Escape, (did I write “escape”? - oof!).

    Jackson is not a joke. At this time folks like me can see the Party doing a 1992 repeat, and we have more numbers to back up that concern. Jackson cannot win the General unless something overly dramatic occurs, which is unlikely. Hoffman will poll better as Democrats search for “Someone Other Than Giannoulais”, which isn’t a bad thing for the Party. Right now, with less than a year to go, incumbants look like losers generally. Having new faces on the ticket is a good idea. Right now, Hynes looks better than Quinn for the General to me, and Hoffman looks better than Giannoulais for the General too.

    Remember - these people are all disposable. What is important at this point in our state’s history is to clean house in order to restore any voter credibility with the forthcoming solutions to our problems. If the incumbants win next year, we will remain in the mess we are in. Voters will not trust them, political opponents will not compromise, and we will remain in this Purgatory for another two years.

  4. - JerryMorrison - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 9:45 am:

    I, for the life of me, do not understand why these chuckleheads keep rolling out their polls that show Alexi with a commanding lead. Any of these other candidates need to get something like 60% or 70% of the undecided voters to come close to winning, then they would have to take some vote away from Alexi. In a multi-candidate race and with only a few weeks before the election that is a nearly impossible task.

    The only candidate that has any hope of getting near Alexi is Jackson and she has run a miserable campaign. Hoffman is a joke. I guarantee that the great reformer, Mr. Hoffman, will run third in this race at best.

    I have run races in 22 states and 7 foriegn countries. I can tell you that no matter how “soft” Alexi’s support appears to be to Mr. Fako, he would much prefer to be Alexi’s pollster than Mr. Hoffman’s.

    I guess in the off-year you take business from where-ever you can get it.

  5. - Easy - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 9:45 am:

    I love Fako’s spin. Meister is at 1% and Fako says he has significant growth potential. that is awesome.

  6. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 9:47 am:

    ===I, for the life of me, do not understand why these chuckleheads keep rolling out their polls that show Alexi with a commanding lead.===

    I agree. Weird.

  7. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 9:49 am:

    I wish to once again remind posters that it is not my place to note partisan political jibberish or the abuse of postings for placing partisan political hyperlinks. But if it was, I would ask the first poster to refraim from both. But it is not my place to do so.

  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 9:51 am:

    Interesting breadth of viewpoints on Afghanistan. Alexi, I guess, was predictable to take the Obama view down the line.

    I thought Hoffman was more thoughtful. Afghanistan has been the burial ground of empires since the ancient Persians. Nation-building in an area that is really just a geographic expression is a fool’s errand.

  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 10:05 am:

    …Jackson and she has run a miserable campaign.

    I’d assume the same because it doesn’t seem as if she’s generating alot of press. (It’s pretty tough to find anything out there, really.) Is there a possibility, however, that that’s part of her strategy?

    Sounds weird, I know, but possible, maybe? Who was really paying alot of attention to Obama in 04?

  10. - downstate hick - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 10:18 am:

    I am not a political expert on campaigns, but it seems obvious to me that based on these numbers Alexi is almost an assured winner. Unless they can really generate spin on his banking connections and bright Start, and none of his opponents seem to have the campaign or the funding to generate such momentum.

  11. - Tom B. - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 10:37 am:

    I’ll correct the record on job approval. 60-17 in our poll.

    And to all the Meister people reading, like I told you yesterday, you’re not over 5% and you have maybe 2 and a half weeks to get there before they kick you out of the 7 debate.

  12. - Tom B. - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 10:40 am:

    And let me preempt any other questions. Nov 12-16, 600 LV’s, MOE +/- 3.9%

  13. - cassandra - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 10:56 am:

    If we are going to be sending a young, rich heir with modest government experience to Washington, it seems to me Hoffman is the better choice, because his service was in government anti-corruption efforts. And the corruption in Washington is massive.

    But I agree he doesn’t seem to be getting much traction. It’s probably too late although I hope
    he runs again for something.

  14. - Bill - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    Alexi didn’t make any mistakes with regard to the Bright Star program. He didn’t recommend investment choices. If the losers who invested in Oppenheimer wanted a fixed investment with no risk they should have bought a CD. It is the investor’s fault not the state’s or the Treasurer’s. Do a little due diligence next time and don’t play the market if you can’t afford to lose.
    Having said that, Alexi did do a good job with the lawsuit trying to get the investors their money back. Maybe they’ll get some of it some day.

  15. - Responsa - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 11:33 am:

    Oh Bill, I think you forgot the /sarc tag at the end of your post. The “losers” you refer to are mostly low to middle income parents trying to save for their kids’ future education–and at the stste’s urging. They are not sophisticated investors but thought they could surely trust the state treasurer to know what he was doing with Bright Start.

  16. - Lakefront Liberal - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 11:42 am:

    I don’t get candidates like Jacob Meister. My understanding is that he is planning to put $2 million of his own money into the campaign. That is the best use he can think of for $2 million dollars when he has zero chance of winning?

    If he wants to bring reform to government then why not give the $2 million to some the of candidates out there that are actually have a shot at doing that, like Toni Preckwinkle for Cook County Board President, or Ray Figueroa who is running against Berrios for Cook County tax assessor. Or wait until the general and give it to whoever wins the Democratic nomination in the 10th CD (and I realize Federal rules means he couldn’t give it all to them but he could give a big chunk to supporting organizations and have plenty left over to help federal candidates in other states or the DNC or whatever). Or if issues are his bag then find one of the many, many underfunded groups that work on the issues he cares about and become their biggest bennefactor.

    Or best yet, give the $2 million to his favorite homeless shelter or food pantry and know that more than 2 million people will eat and sleep better because of it.

    But in my experience you can’t tell first-time, last-place candidates that anything — they simply won’t believe you until they see it themselves on election day.

  17. - Ghost - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 12:09 pm:

    Actually I agree with Bill. Il has this fantastic pre-paid tuition program where you can purchase and prepay the cost of tuition and have school paid for. Then put some dollars into brite start etc for other expenses. many people complained that the rate of return by prepaying was way to low so they dropped all the money into the higher earning investments, with no guarantees.

    Thats why it had a higher rate of return, greater risk.

    I am still surprised that so few people are purchasing the prepaid tutition plans the State offers. Plus IL has a cornucopia of State colleges and universities for your locked in tutution.

  18. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 12:44 pm:

    The Treasurer’s record with Bright Start is fair game because of all the trumpeting they did when the plan was doing well.

    And it is ignorant to place all the blame on investors who put good faith that those with the fiduciary duty to properly invest their money due so properly and in accordance with their goals and risk tolerance.

    There are flaws in Bright Start that were not addressed and led to huge losses. Everybody lost money, but not at the rate of Bright Start on average.

  19. - LouisXIV - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 1:27 pm:

    I agree that it is mystifying as to why someone would post poll results that show him at 1%. I am in hopes that Alexi will be challenged at least a bit by someone so we can see what kind of candidate he will really make in the fall. Both Obama and Clinton became better candidates because of their competition. I’d hate to see the Dems lose the senate seat to Kirk, if Alexi coasts to victory, just because Alexi turns out to be a weak candidate or the issues related to his bank and Bright Start turn out to be so toxic that he is unelectable. Better to know these things before the primary rather than in Sept or Oct of 2010.

  20. - Bill - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 2:16 pm:

    Wait a minute. The state has no fiduciary responsibility to invest people’s money so that they don’t lose any of it. The state is not an investment adviser. It merely takes your contribution and invests it where you direct it. The flaws are not in Bright Start. They are in the investors choices. They picked a bad fund. They paid the price. Every Bright Star pamphlet warns of that possibility. People who stifled their urge to make unjustified returns and went with safer choices didn’t lose as much. If anybody else is at fault it is the fund company who may have misrepresented the funds risk factors.
    Greed is always a motivating factor in investing and if it is not stifled usually leads to gigantic losses.

  21. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 2:33 pm:

    I agree that it is mystifying as to why someone would post poll results that show him at 1%.

    Someone please clue me in. He funded a poll–probably realizing up front that he wasn’t going to be at the top–and then when he got the results back, he published them to get some press.

    Am I missing something more “sinister” or “strategic”–or whatever behind that? Expensive, I’ll admit. But he seems to have money and this is where his priorities are right now.

    Just like running. He’s probably paying for name recognition just in case he decides to run again in future, or maybe it’s business related. Won’t be the first time.

  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 2:36 pm:

    Having said that, Alexi did do a good job with the lawsuit trying to get the investors their money back.

    Bill, do you have any links? Haven’t seen details and would like to. Thanks!

  23. - Bill - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 3:32 pm:

    try this one for starters:,CST-FIN-savage14.savagearticle

  24. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 3:43 pm:

    –I don’t get candidates like Jacob Meister. My understanding is that he is planning to put $2 million of his own money into the campaign. That is the best use he can think of for $2 million dollars when he has zero chance of winning?–

    When all is said and done, I doubt if Meister spends anywhere near $2 million. He doesn’t strike me as an Al Hofeld, scorched-earth kind of guy.

    The big question to me is how much is Hoffman willing to spend. He seemingly has some access to big money. But in all honesty, the guy is so laid-back, and so low-tech, he doesn’t seem to have his heart in it.

    Get in or get out, the halfway effort is a waste of time.

  25. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 3:47 pm:

    Bill, it doesn’t exactly work the way you describe, at least for the vast majority of investors. They pick an investment stratagy such as “age based” or “type of fund”. The state or it’s agents select what funds make up the strategy. It’s a very long discussion but not as cut and dry as you think. There is responsibility on both parties.

  26. - LouisXIV - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 4:32 pm:

    I would also think that a poll showing you are in last place with 1% of the vote, needing to climb past three other people with greater name recognition to win, would not be particularly helpful to your cause. Perhaps he subscribes to the “any publicity is good publicity” philosophy.

  27. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 4:32 pm:

    Thanks, Bill!

  28. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 4:36 pm:

    …and so low-tech,…

    I don’t know, word. Have you checked out his website? He’s doing some “leading-edge” type stuff for a campaign. How much of an ROI it is, I don’t know, but some of it is a “first”, I think. And I’d imagine effective from a “warm and fuzzy”, “keeping in touch” perspective.

  29. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 4:49 pm:

    Can Bowen explain how a candidate with probably less than 60% name ID can actually have a job approval rating in the same zone as well know popular figures like Lisa Madigan and Jesse White?

    I understand that job performance and personal ratings are different and job evaluations will prompt higher awareness because of the candidate’s title, but I find 60% positive job approval very suspect for a relatively unknown individual.

  30. - Karen Craven - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 5:45 pm:

    Tom Bowen: If you read the poll brief from Dave Fako you would know that in the informed poll, Meister takes votes away from Giannoulias.

    Surely, 1% was not a surprise, given that Jacob Meister is not yet a household name. 23% was a pleasant surprise and better yet was the joy in reading that Meister pulled votes away from Giannoulias.

    No one grabbed more of the undecided vote than Meister.

    With regards to your distraction for the day, I’m saddened to read that you do not know the difference between name recognition and approval rating.

    The Meister poll found nothing near your 60%. Try 36%.

    Giannoulias Job Approval Rating
    Excellent 8%
    Good 28%
    Total Positive 36%
    Only Fair 24%
    Poor 6%
    Total Negative 30%
    Cannot Rate / Don’t Know 33%

    Again, in a separate question, 44% of voters poll don’t even know our state treasurer. Again these were likely Democratic voters.

  31. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Dec 3, 09 @ 9:43 pm:

    Anon, don’t believe Bill once he apparently goes in the tank for a politician. (Exhibit A: Blago.)

    First of all, the Treasurer is a fiduciary (along with Oppenheimer) to the Bright Start participants, but don’t believe AA-go to his own website and look it up yourself.

    Secondly, these families, and any retail investor, that selected a “Core Bond Fund” in 2007 could not have reasonably expected under worst-case scenarios to lose 38 percent of their investment in 2008. There were clearly errors made by Oppenheimer and the Treasurer’s office in both the investment of these funds (Opp) and the disclosure of permitted fund investments (both.)
    The best coverage of this mess has been from Greg Hinz at Crain’s who understands both the politics and the financial issues in play here.

    Finally, as far as the lawsuit/recovery of losses, Alexi has been bloviating for months that “he” had struck a deal to get back $75 million of the lost money. Not a dime has been seen by any of the families. However, the WSJ reported last week that the State of Oregon, the first Bright Start state to figure out this stink pickle and actually take on Oppenheimer in court, recovered $20 million on a $36 million loss in an out-of-court settlement.
    To be fair, here’s an update from Bill’s favorite financial expert:,CST-NWS-savage23.savagearticle

    Dynamic commercials and good polls can only go so far in covering for unsavory politicians. Haven’t you learned that lesson yet, Bill?
    Guess not.

  32. - Northside Nelly - Friday, Dec 4, 09 @ 8:14 am:

    I am so sick of Alexi Giannoulias. He’s tangled up in about 100 (don’t freak out, it’s an exageration) idiotic scandals but people keep trying to defend him. Bright Start, Broadway Bank, Tony Rezko, none of it’s ever his fault. How does he keep getting himself into these messes without any fault?

    Personally, I am sick of apologizing for politicians. Illinois has had way too many pols who don’t take responsibility because no one forces them to…until they end up in jail of course. Alexi is just like the others and hopefully less cynical Illinoisans will see that and keep him from winning the general election.

    Of course that leaves us with Mark Kirk, who is a bit of an idiot. So we still lose.

    Instead of tearing down Alexi’s opponents for having the presumption to run against our little known state treasurer, we should be supporting them so they have a better shot of winning.

    I like Hoffman. I’ve met him. He’s thoughtful, extremely intelligent, very honest. He sets high goals for himself and seems to achieve them, judging from his record.

    I know less about Jackson, but she also seems competent, knowledgeable, and caring.

    I’m voting for Hoffman because he’ll make a wonderful senator, not because he has x chance of winning. I think you should all make your choices on the same principal otherwise the guy with the best name recognition always wins no matter how odious he is. That is very sad.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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