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PPP: Giannoulias leads 37-35

Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010

* Rasmussen has it tied at 40 each, and Public Policy Polling has the US Senate race essentially dead even. From the PPP pollster

In a race pitting two of the weakest Senate candidates in the country Alexi Giannoulias continues to hold a small lead over Mark Kirk, 37-35, with Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones pulling 9%. Voters in the heavily Democratic state it seems would narrowly prefer a Democratic candidate they don’t like to a Republican candidate they don’t like.

Kirk does have a big lead with independents, 36-20. But you can’t win as a Republican in Illinois without winning over a fair number of Democratic voters and Kirk just isn’t doing that right now. He’s getting only 5%. Kirk’s getting 74% of the Republican vote while Giannoulias is getting 72% of the Democratic vote and it’s going to be very hard for Kirk to win unless the party unity gap ends up being bigger than that.

Full results and crosstabs are here. Since so many Republicans now identify as independents, it’s probably more important to look at where the moderate vote is going

Big lead for Giannoulias there.

* Back to the pollster…

Both candidates continue to be very unpopular. Giannoulias’ favorability is 26/42 and Kirk’s is 26/34. Independents have a negative opinion of both of them, and each of them is viewed more unfavorably by voters of the opposite party than they are favorably by their own party base. Only 51% of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Giannoulias and just 49% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Kirk so neither contender is doing much to fire up even their partisans.

* And here’s a scary topline for Democrats…

* Who did you vote for President in 2008?
42% John McCain
51% Barack Obama.
8% Someone else/Don’t remember
13% Not sure

Obama actually won Illinois 62-37. Back to the pollster…

These polls results are premised on an extremely depressed Democratic electorate. Those surveyed report having voted for Barack Obama by only 9 points, in contrast to his actual 26 point victory in the state in 2008. That’s a dropoff even worse than what Democrats saw in Virginia last year and the fact that Kirk is behind even when that’s the case does not bode well if Democratic interest in this election gets any better over the next three months. And it’s not as if Illinois voters just don’t know Giannoulias yet- they know him and they know they don’t like him and they still give him a small lead.

* More toplines with party crosstabs…

* Do you think that Mark Kirk is an ethical or
unethical person?
28% Ethical
25% Unethical
46% Not sure

* Do you think that Alexi Giannoulias is an
ethical or unethical person?
30% Ethical
35% Unethical
35% Not sure

Kirk’s negative message appears to be working significantly better with the GOP base than Giannoulias’ message is working with the Democratic base.

* The pollster’s conclusion…

In Kirk Republicans got the candidate they wanted in this race. But it looks more and more like they might have wanted the wrong candidate. There’s no way with everything that’s happened to Giannoulias since the last couple weeks before the primary that he should be ahead in this race. But he’s hanging on.

It is odd that Kirk hasn’t been able to put Giannoulias away. Theories?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Whatever - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:35 am:

    Kirk has been too focused on shooting himself in the foot and dealing with all the internal drama within his own campaign. What a wasted opportunity for the GOP.

  2. - shore - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:36 am:

    I said to you in the last post, the most important thing in the sweet column was the fact that he doesn’t have a message. He probably expected to have to swallow hard in the primary and move to the right, come out and define alexi as a mob banker and then reassert himself as a fiscal hawk/national security stalwart in the general and use that to coast to victory.

    His resume thing crushed that plan and instead of him defining himself the media ate him alive and this polling is showing he hasn’t figured out how to recover control of his image. He has spent a decade honing an image as a moderate and yet loses those voters by 17 points when Alexi has made no effort to win those voters. Maybe his svengali can do the job.

  3. - Steve - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:37 am:

    This poll is meaningless- MSNBC had a great discussion on open senate seats and the poslter stated that when senate seats are considered in states where the Governor is also up for election, the majority of times the party which wins the Governor’s race also prevails in the senate election . Governor races drive voter turnout- as long as the Quinn Brady race remains lopsided, Kirk will win by riding Brady’s coat tails

  4. - John Bambenek - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:41 am:

    The misstatements (or whatever word you want to use) about Kirk’s military record is what really hurt Kirk, especially among Republicans who care about such things. I imagine that cost him 5-7% right there.

  5. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:41 am:

    Kirk has been caught up in too many lies. Also, his switch from moderate to conservative doesn’t ring true for a lot of us who know him.

  6. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:42 am:

    I can’t figure this one out, either. Total Dem control, bad economy, Blago, the bank - Kirk should have buried Alexi long ago.

  7. - ZC - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:42 am:

    Kirk’s attacks against Alexi may be slightly too complicated or feel “over-the-top” to independent or moderate voters. Without getting into a lengthy discussion about credibility or the evidence for the claims, I think a lot of Illinois voters may shrug off claims like “mafia-connected.” It may sound kind of crazy, at first listen, in the context of a statewide.

    Plus Kirk has to walk this line where Alexi is the creature of his family bank but is apparently also _anti_-bank, and anti-finance, and anti-business, because Kirk actually stands for and supports all these things (except when they’re too greedy “Wall Street” like) - all at the same time.

    Alexi, on the other hand, can spin a tale that Mark Kirk is a consumate bull**** artist who imagines alternate military histories and gives himself awards he never won.

    Narrative advantage: Alexi? But unfortunately, Kirk has a lot of cash still to drive home his narrative, so we’ll see.

  8. - Segatari - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    The proof is there that a Republican who acts like a Democrat is not gonna get votes from that side, not now, not ever. A whopping %1 of liberals plan to vote for Kirk. Kirk CANNOT WIN without the conservatives. It’s impossible. Kirk better pray that conservatives do not find a viable alternative candidate.

  9. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:45 am:

    Nope. Giannoulais is not ahead, but the race can be close enough right now for this poll to look like this today.

    Nope. There is nothing that has happened to change this in Giannoulais’ favor. His team needs to ignore this poll and keep working like it is ten points down. They won’t win with this kind of schmaltzy polling deluding them.

  10. - phocion - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:47 am:

    Theories, Rich? Really? Did you notice that voters in this state elected Rod Blagojevich and Tod Stroger? Or the media’s general attitude of placing Kirk’s boneheaded embelishments on the same moral level of Alexi’s mind-boggling ethical and financial deficiencies?

  11. - 60611 - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:47 am:

    There’s a 20%+ undecided vote among non-whites in this poll. The sample size is small, so that doesn’t mean much by itself, but it also means the poll probably understates how Alexi will do on Election Day with those groups.

    And in response to Steve, I understand his point, but in a blue state like Illinois, voters may be willing to elect a Republican governor (particularly given all that has happened in Springfield), but pulling the lever again for a Republican Senate candidate may be a bridge too far.

  12. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:51 am:

    It’s amazing how unpopular both of these guys are (as well as Quinn and Brady). The major party candidates this cycle are pathetically weak and unpopular. The net effect is that this will be a very late breaking election and unless someone has a ten point lead, nobody will have a strong grasp of the outcome until it’s over. There’s simply too much uncertainty this year, particularly given voter anger and turnout issues.

    Anyone who speaks with confidence on the outcome of this race is completely full of crap.

  13. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:52 am:

    - Those surveyed report having voted for Barack Obama by only 9 points, in contrast to his actual 26 point victory in the state in 2008. -

    I’m no polling expert, and I haven’t read through all the results, but couldn’t this be an indication that the sample may not be accurately representative of Illinois voters? Again, I’m asking because I’m curious, I do not claim to understand the details of polling methods.

  14. - Ru - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    I find it curious that 20% of self-identified conservatives have vouchered no preference. Kirk has to win that group in order to prevail in the race. That 20% is crucial.

  15. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 12:02 pm:

    I don’t care if this is Washington DC or Chicago city limits, there is no way Alexi should be leading Kirk! Based on experienace and waht the two lied about, Kirk should win hands down.

  16. - Heartless Libertarian - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 12:03 pm:

    So… I can’t wait not to vote for one of these guys!

  17. - seebee - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 12:19 pm:

    We conservative Illinois voters do not really have a choice. Would I vote for a Chicago gangster who is a big-time Obama supporter who will probably get a patronage job from Obama even if he loses or Kirk who is a liar and not really a Republican? What were the main-stream RINO’s thinking?

  18. - Logical Thinker - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 12:23 pm:

    As you look forward to November, what positive developments can the democrats look forward to nationally to help their local campaigns?

    The economy? No chance.
    Obama’s coattails? No chance.
    A decline in unemployment? No chance.
    A debate on the Bush tax cuts? Not a winner.

    Add that to a growing probability that Blago’s jury is hung and the environment grows more and more toxic by the minute for candidates like AG. Kirk has a huge money advantage and I’m guessing he is keeping his powder dry until September/October when he’ll saturate the airwaves with AG’s record. In the end, Kirk wins by 4-5%.

  19. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 12:38 pm:

    I see the race as voting for someone I don’t like but will help the president move this country forward vs voting for someone I don’t like who would help Mitch McConnell take this country back to the 1500s. So yeah, I’m voting for someone I don’t like. Big deal–that happens most of the time anyway.

  20. - Bardo2 - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 12:41 pm:

    I think the answer is that Mark Kirk simply isn’t a very good candidate. He’s been in DC too long for the likes of most Illinoisans. And, while Alexi is in some ways a flawed candidate, he at least appears to be a genuine one. Kirk — not so much.

  21. - Luke - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 12:49 pm:

    No it isn’t odd that Kirk doesn’t have a lead in the polls. Kirk has proven to be a very weak candidate. It’s more than Kirk’s outright lies about his background. Kirk is a Republican in a very Blue state. I believe the PPP poll. Kirk will have to be up by 5 going into the election to win. Alexi will win Cook County hands down. Plus, Alexi has done well in the rural part of the state.

  22. - Bubs - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 12:51 pm:

    Mark Kirk and his advisors need an epiphany.

    Shore is right - a failure to define, much less control his image has cost Kirk dearly. From a distance (which is how most voters currently see him, it being only August and all), Kirk looks unnervingly slippery and elitist.

    It’s the odd votes, and the resume embellishments, the ex-wife interview hinting at Dark Forces in his campaign controlling him, the Conservative Republicans calling him a RINO at every turn. They are all nicks and cuts, but they add up - who really is this guy and why should we vote for him?

    Kirk’s people have always been obnoxiously haughty, and it permeates his campaign. That nonsense may work on the North Shore (where haughtiness is considered a virtue), but it is not going to sell across Illinois. It is no suprise that there is just not the same enthusiasm for Mark Kirk among GOP leaders that Bill Brady is currently generating.

    Kirk needs to get busy being more of a man of the people, and giving voters reasons to vote for him that do not include negative campaigning.

  23. - cousin ralph - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 1:57 pm:

    How bad do you have to be to be losing to Alexi in this year?

  24. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 1:58 pm:

    I thought Kirk would be pollin farther ahead. Many people heard this bank stuff before. rehashing the same attacks does not appear to be resonating; add in Kirks own diffculty with the truth and he has dificulty getting traction.

    That said, Kirk will have an easy opportunity to pepper the airwaves with overwhelming number of adds close to the elction. So Kirk has the advanatge if Alxi doesnt close that money gap Kirk should walk away with this.

  25. - Segatari - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 2:09 pm:

    I should point out, there is a contingent of conservatives out there that will not vote for Kirk no matter what because of past votes with the Democrats on very unpopular legislation. Who they may back in the election is unclear which much of that undecided number represents.

  26. - 60611 - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 2:15 pm:

    Also, many African-Americans self-identify as conservatives, so there could be some overlap between the undecided conservatives and the undecided African-Americans in this poll.

  27. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 2:25 pm:

    I believe these poll numbers to be valid. I think Alexi’s campaign has scored some major body blows while Kirk was stepping on his johnson. HOWEVER, if Kirk can stop saying stupid things, I don’t think that Alexi can keep hammering this theme all the way through to November and win. The message will be tiresome to voters who will be looking for something fresh to learn about both candidates.

    If Kirk can firm up a message, stop shooting his mouth off, and refocus on the economy he will win. If Alexi can focus the election on issues other than the economy, he will probably win.

  28. - Concerned Observer - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 2:26 pm:

    Can someone help me here? As I look at those crosstabs, it seems to me that the poll reached substantially more Republican-leaning voters than Democrat-leaning ones. Which we know does not match the typical Illinois electorate.

    Alexi leads liberals by a greater margin than Kirk leads conservatives (78-66). He gets a greater percentage of the conservative electorate than Kirk does of the liberal (9-1). And he leads by 17 points among moderates.

    So I don’t understand, then, how this is a 2-point race. The only explanation is that a *very* large number of people in this poll self-identified as conservatives, but we know that to be a false description of the Illinois electorate.

    Maybe 60611 has it, with African-Americans identifying conservative. But I think this is a flawed poll, for whatever reason (didn’t call cell phones[?] bad luck, whatever). That would also explain the Obama/McCain gap.

  29. - Concerned Observer - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 2:28 pm:

    I guess what I’m saying is, a large majority of the 26% who ID as “independents” are really conservatives. That’s the only explanation.

  30. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 2:59 pm:


    The extra conservative voters reflects the pollsters methodology to include the recent national trend in voter preference in generic balloting and other parameters. This breakdown is often hotly contested.

  31. - Mark S. - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 3:04 pm:

    Kirk has lost the veterans’ vote because of his lies about his military career. There are some things that are just not acceptable and that’s one of them to those who serve or have served honorably.

    Don’t believe me? Hang out with some vets yourself and ask them.

  32. - Conservative Veteran - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 4:02 pm:

    The poll should have included Randy Stufflebeam, of the Constitution Party, and Michael Labno, of the Libertarian Party. I don’t believe that 66% of conservatives will vote for Kirk. If the pollster gave them three choices, Kirk, Giannoulias, and Jones, the majority of conservatives would say Kirk. However, the ballot will have at least five candidates.

  33. - Old Timer Dem - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 6:30 pm:

    Kirk has been caught in too many lies and Alexi has far more African American support than Quinn. Both factors account for the disparity in their respective polling numbers.

  34. - T.J. - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 6:58 pm:

    “It is odd that Kirk hasn’t been able to put Giannoulias away. Theories?”

    You need only compare Kirk to Blumenthal to prove Republicans have higher standards than Democrats.

  35. - BH - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 7:06 pm:

    One point I disagree with the poll about is Kirk only getting 5 percent of Democrats. Again, in a district that voted more than 60-40 for Obama (and close to 60 for Kerry), Kirk has a lot of support among Democrat up here in the 10th. Also, the “Hoffman” Democrats like myself. Or course, if this poll is accurate on Election Day, Kirk will go down.

  36. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 7:41 pm:

    Ditto on what Whatever said. And I have a feeling that the drama is only going to heighten as he tries to repair the damage. Same thing, but different.

    It’ll boil down to trust first and his being too liberal to hang onto the Repubican base second.

  37. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 17, 10 @ 7:49 pm:

    I’m also beginning to believe that there’s a reason why “definition” hadn’t started earlier even when it seemed to be critical. They’ll probably begin soon, but chances are that it’s probably too late and will therefore seem too planned, staged and crafty to appeal.

  38. - My two cents - Wednesday, Aug 18, 10 @ 11:27 am:

    Kirk lost his 5% Democratic support in the Tenth when he veered to the right and showed his true colors to position himself for the senate race. The video of Kirk addressing a conservative audience, telling them that his number one agenda was to make Obama a one term president did not sit well with those Democrats, particularly when coupled with the lies he’s told over the last ten years. The local GOP worried that Kirk is running for a statewide race in the Tenth District- they’re right- he doesn’t play well in a larger field. His attacks on Giannoulias make him look like a cornered rat instead of a viable candidate.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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