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Preckwinkle poll: Few will follow Quinn’s lead

Monday, Aug 27, 2012

* My syndicated newspaper column looks at the governor’s vow to activate the grassroots

“We’ve got to activate the taxpayers of Illinois,” Gov. Pat Quinn told reporters after the Aug. 17 legislative special session failed to move any sort of pension reform forward.

Quinn pledged to lead a “grass-roots” effort to push legislators to pass a reform bill. But will the voters actually listen to him?

A recent poll conducted for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle found that 54 percent of the county’s likely voters disapprove of Quinn’s handling of the public employee pension issue. Just 29 percent approved.

Keep in mind, this is Cook County we’re talking about. It leans strongly Democratic. Quinn’s job approval numbers are radically upside down throughout the state, but 54 percent of Cook County voters still approve of how he’s doing his job.

So if he’s getting this sort of pension-issue disapproval in Cook, of all places, it’s most likely a whole lot worse elsewhere.

The numbers were a tiny bit better for Quinn among Chicago voters, with 32 percent agreeing with his handling of the pension issue and 52 percent disagreeing. Among the county’s suburban voters, however, only 24 percent approve while 57 percent disapprove. Among black voters, 35 percent approve, 54 percent do not. But among white voters, just 25 percent approve while 55 percent do not.

Also, this poll of 600 likely voters was taken Aug. 1 through 6, which was before the special session debacle. Quinn did not emerge from that pension session looking competent in the least.

It was his special session. He called it. He ran the show. And he got nothing for his troubles except defeat.

And Quinn’s statements about attempting to activate a grass-roots movement merely play into the notion, pushed by Republicans, that the House vote to eliminate future General Assembly pensions and reform current pensions was nothing more than a political act.

It’s clear that the governor, at least, will be attempting to inject himself into campaigns to try to convince voters that Republicans who voted against the bill were acting in self-interest.

You might be wondering why Preckwinkle’s campaign shared those negative poll numbers about her party’s governor. After all, Preckwinkle told Crain’s Chicago Business in July that she planned to run for re-election and wouldn’t challenge Quinn in a Democratic primary.

But her thinking appears to be evolving. While the county board president still hopes that Quinn will get his act together, her campaign says, she’s not ruling out a primary bid. The polling shows the way forward.

Preckwinkle’s poll shows that her job approval ratings are stronger than even President Obama’s. She has an incredibly strong net 52 percent job approval rating (67 percent approval versus just 15 percent disapproval) in Cook County.

That compares with Obama’s 45 percent net approval (72 percent to 27 percent) and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 43 percent net (69 percent to 26 percent). Quinn’s net approval? Only 9 percent.

Also, 84 percent said a very convincing reason to support Preckwinkle is that she is an “effective leader who says what she does and does what she says. When running for board president, she said she would repeal (an increase in the county sales tax). In her first six months of office, she did just that, saving taxpayers $440 million a year.”

The idea, reportedly, is to position Preckwinkle the same way against the state income tax. If she runs, she will vow to let it repeal itself in 2015, just as she vowed to repeal the county sales tax hike.

Her hesitancy in advocating a repeal of the state tax hike reportedly involves the thinking of people like House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). If he strongly opposes repeal, then Preckwinkle may drop the whole primary challenge idea.

Quinn won the 2010 Democratic primary election over then-state Comptroller Dan Hynes with incredibly strong support in black precincts. Preckwinkle, who is black, would definitely erode that backing. Quinn has never polled well with women, and a Preckwinkle candidacy would make that situation even worse.

If Preckwinkle starts appearing a lot downstate and in the collar counties, we’ll probably have our answer regarding her political plans. Her latest appearance, in Champaign-Urbana, didn’t go well. She said there should be a “special place in hell” reserved for President Ronald Reagan for his war against drugs and push for prison terms for minor drug offenses.

She had to quickly back off and apologize. Preckwinkle is discovering that there is a whole lot of Illinois outside Cook County, and not everybody thinks like she does.

* Related…

* Voters grilling Ill. candidates about pension fix: “Why can’t we put four or five or six options on the table and let (retirees) choose?” asked Minor, the Senate candidate from southern Illinois.

* Their pension fiasco, your income tax: The legislator — a hard worker who pursues centrist solutions — grew more dispirited as last week’s conversation lengthened. Bad enough that the Aug. 16 special session to address Illinois’ pension debacle had yielded only partisan rhetoric. Even worse, this lawmaker fumed: “The two parties intentionally failed — so that each now has the opportunity to blame the other.”

* VIDEO: Ralph Martire - Public Affairs - 2012-08-26

* VIDEO: Roger Eddy — Concerns About Shifting the Cost of Pensions

- Posted by Rich Miller        

42 Comments
  1. - Billy - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:24 am:

    Illinois politics, Madigan’s way on pension reform, or nothing! Choice, not in Illinois!


  2. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:32 am:

    Does Quinn really want to activate the taxpayers of Illinois after shoving a middle of the night, last day of session, 67% income tax increase down their throats?


  3. - foster brooks - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:41 am:

    Preckwinkle won’t have a prayer outside of cook in the general election


  4. - Langhorne - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:41 am:

    I don’t see how Q can: simplify pension issues enuf to get his solution across to the avg joe, and then get joe to do what, exactly? Local teachers, esp suburban and DS, will be very effective in playing defense–HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES


  5. - western illinois - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:46 am:

    The republicans have a real shot in 2014. Maybe that is Madigans plan


  6. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:49 am:

    I’m not surprised that the majority of likely voters disapprove of Quinn’s handling of the pension issue. Nothing’s happened, he’s the governor, and he’s likely to bear the brunt of that from those who want reform.

    At the same time, last time I looked the Chicago Federation of Labor represented hundreds of thousands of voters in Cook County, and Chicago Public Schools are the county’s largest employer. Union members, who vote heavily in Cook County’s Democratic Primary probably aren’t too happy with Quinn right now either.

    At the same time, while Cook County voters aren’t too happy with Cook, I doubt the Illinois General Assembly gets a strong vote of confidence either.

    A platform of “cut pensions, repeal the tax increase” might have strong appeal for the 2014 general election.

    I’m not convinced the polling shows it would be a very strong platform for a Democratic Primary. A Democrat would have to explain how their pension-cutting plan differs from Quinn’s, and to credibly claim they’d let the tax hike simply expire (without offering additional revenue), they’d have to put forth a plan to cut state spending by $7 billion…primarily from education, human services and health care. I think that campaign would be over before it even started.

    On the upside, I think that Preckwinkle’s push to stop warehousing drug addicts in our prisons will have strong appeal not just in a Democratic Primary, but among independents and even some conservatives.

    Time will tell.

    That said, as I’ve said before, I don’t know why anyone would want to give up being County Board President to run for Governor. Cook County Board President is probably about the third or fourth-best post in American politics, after President and mayor of Chicago and New York City.


  7. - bored now - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    == Preckwinkle won’t have a prayer outside of cook in the general election ==

    that’s what they said when she ran for board president (that she couldn’t win outside the black wards)…


  8. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:54 am:

    I’m not sure what Quinn is talking about in “activating” taxpayers on pensions. Based on the polls that were published here last week, it seems most taxpayers would rather just not deal with the issue at all.

    It’s a problem that is just a Big Heaping Bowl of Bad, without any raisins or sugar on top. Who needs it, especially today. Leave it to manana.

    The conspiracy theories around the Dems efforts to address the problem are quite entertaining, though. Apparently it’s all a sinister plot, with a cast of thousands. Cecil B. DeMille couldn’t pull off a production that big.

    Let’ just leave it to the big-brain Tribbies, Kass and the DuPage County GOP to solve. They’ll know what to do. Cincy, you lead the way.


  9. - OneMan - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:08 am:

    Preckwinkle vs Quinn….

    Please….


  10. - Shore - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:20 am:

    Which voters does preckwinkle win in a 2014 general election that quinn did not in 2010?


  11. - amalia - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:27 am:

    I’m not playing in the game of how many votes can come from Cook County and anyone can win/who cares about Downstate. I don’t think she’s good for Democratic politics. Toni makes me frown. at her tactics, her policies, her Berrios support, her smarter than thou attitude. and I really hope she just sticks to where she is despite how much I disagree with many things she’s doing in office.


  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:33 am:

    @Shore -

    I’m not advocating for Preckwinkle to run (see above), but you’re asking a very one-sided question.

    You also have to consider that you’re gonna have very different voters in play in 2014 if the GOP nominee isn’t Brady or another downstate Brady clone. I think the Illinois GOP is unlikely to repeat that mistake.

    I also think that you have to consider the behind-the-scenes games being played in Cook County. There are lots of folks in the Cook County Democratic Party who would love to see Preckwinkle vacate her current job so they could have a shot at it.


  13. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:36 am:

    Preckwinkle will not have to worry about be painted to “the left” with the “Reagan Quote” out there and the “contrite” apology.

    A lot of rehab will be needed to “gear up for a run in 2014″.

    If I could ask her one question, the question would be, “How do you get moderates in your party, and moderates of the Republican party to look at you as someone who is looking for some common ground as a Governor?”

    Preckwinkle’s “painting” will be a “color by number” for her Primary opponents, and by her General Election foes, at the rate she is helping them. Lots of work ahead, now even more difficult with the Reagan quote, the statement “after”, then the apology.

    Lots of work …


  14. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:36 am:

    Could I do any worse than your Democrats have done since taking total control of Illinois government, Word.

    If you’d care to know, I believe that the suburbs and downstate taxpayers will have to assume some responsibility for pensions of their direct employees. As part of that, complete control of hiring and firing, work rules and other such items must be sent back to the locals, along with education mandate relief. At all levels of government, there should be no pensions and health care benefits for part-time employees (legislators and union officials included). Funding for categoricals and special programs should be leveled so that, for instance, Chicago will no longer receive state funding in proportional excess of suburban and downstate taxing bodies. We should look at the ramp, and decide if it is actuarially correct, and make adjustments as required.

    The Democrats haven’t offered a single new concept since the beginning of time other than raising taxes. When they do that, they squander the money on boondoggles like wind turbine powered bullet trains (nothing like combining 1st century technology with 19th century technology, what could possibly go wrong). And the argument that we get leveraged Federal funds for the State expenditures is morally and financially bankrupting to our children and our government at all levels.


  15. - Hank - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:38 am:

    Preckwinkle won’t have a prayer outside of cook in the general election ……..Disagree, Win Cook and St Clair by a large enough margin and she is in. The rest of the state can join Reagan!


  16. - Hank - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:42 am:

    Cincinnatus ….you ain’t seen nothin yet, wait until the next lame duck session in January. These folks work very well under cover of darkness


  17. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:42 am:

    ===I think the Illinois GOP is unlikely to repeat that mistake.===

    YDD,

    The ILGOP makes the same mistakes ALL the time… you think the ILGOP won’t repeat that, or any other, again?

    You are the optimists, YDD, and I appreciate that. You keep me from pulling pulling out all my hair when I get the Pat Brady press release blaiming Madigan because Illinois does not have a Lincoln County or something trivial like that.

    If you think the ILGOP won’t repeat 2010 in statewide fiascos …I thank you for that YDD.


  18. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    - Funding for categoricals and special programs should be leveled so that, for instance, Chicago will no longer receive state funding in proportional excess of suburban and downstate taxing bodies. -

    Not sure what you’re talking about, Cinci, but Chicago pretty much gets back what they pay in taxes overall. The metro area gets back less, and downstate gets back more. This is fact, not opinion.

    Also, if you can point me to an actual project involving wind powered trains, I’d love to see it.

    I applaud your agreement that locals who control the salaries should be responsible for some of the pensions, other than that it’s hard to see where you’re going.


  19. - Crime Fighter - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    A “grass roots campaign” against a group of lower middle class workers. Uhmm.
    Sounds more like an astro-turf laying job that Quinn’s Chamber of Commerce pals came up with for him.


  20. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:50 am:

    Cincy, I’m like Groucho, I wouldn’t be a member of any party that would have me.

    I just wish there was a Republican Party in this state and in the country, for that matter, like there was when I was coming up. You know, one with brains and guts.

    It’s not just me. Use the google. Sen. Dole, Sen. Lugar, Jeb Bush, Gen. Powell, they’ve all expressed similar sentiments recently.

    Just the other day, the wise man on page two of The World’s Greatest Newspaper informed us that former governors Thompson and Edgar weren’t “real” Republicans. The tent gets smaller every day when yabbos like that are running the show.

    Talk radio gasbags and cable TV yakkers are not the intellectual foundation of a great nation.


  21. - windshouter - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    Governor Quinn could be a more effective communicator on this issue, but in general, the handling of the pension issue is going to be pass/fail. It would be a lot to expect the public to care about the details here. It just needs to be fixed. That said, I agree with others and I can’t imagine room for a Democrat to both beat Quinn and the Republicans if pension reform fails. Significant progress on budget issues must be made by 2014 for Democrats to prevail statewide. On the third hand, the more that 2014 looks like a lock for Republicans, the more tempted they will be to nominate a dreamy conservatives with lots of outside help.


  22. - walkinfool - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:57 am:

    Preckwinkle is becoming a hero in suburban areas, albeit in comparison to her predecessor who was reviled. That’s where she can gain ground.

    Cook Co government can eventually eat up any good President with its vast problems and challenges. I say she gets on out while the getting is good.


  23. - Niles Township - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 10:57 am:

    Preckwinkle would be an even worse disaster than Quinn statewide. Is this the best we can come up with? Quinn needs a primary challenge if even just to get his campaign in gear. I think the Hynes close contest last time around made Quinn a much better candidate in the end. He has a tendency not to get his election capaign up & running in a big way until he gets a kick in the pants. But Preckwinckel, come on. A disaster outside of Cook even more than Quinn. A long time Chicago alderwoman who has had a couple years as Cook County Board President. Oh yeah, that will sell well state wide.


  24. - Judgment Day - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:01 am:

    “She (Toni Preckwinkle) said there should be a “special place in hell” reserved for President Ronald Reagan for his war against drugs and push for prison terms for minor drug offenses.”

    Unforced error.

    You talk to people downstate, and if they know the name (Toni Preckwinkle), that’s what they remember.

    Not a good start, certainly not good for a first impression. You only get a few of those anyway, and happens the first time out of the gate?. Not good.

    That being said, why would Toni ever want to become Governor of this state, given the fiscal condition it’s in.


  25. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:02 am:

    @Oswego Willy -

    There remains a chance that the GOP will field three or more candidates from the suburbs and a Brady clone will win it, but I find it unlikely.

    Someone is bound to realize that the three most liberal Republicans - Topinka, Kirk and Rutherford - provide the only viable roadmap to statewide victory for the Republicans.

    Dillard has mistakenly gone harder to the right, as has Schock. I think that makes a Rutherford nomination the most likely.

    So the question any Democrat thinking of running in 2014 should be asking is “How do I beat Dan Rutherford,” not “How do I beat Pat Quinn.”

    For what its worth, I think Topinka is probably Republican’s best hope of winning the governor’s mansion. But Republicans rarely listen to me.


  26. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:15 am:

    @Niles Township -

    I remember folks back in 2003 saying that pretty much the same thing about Obama’s run for U.S. Senate.

    Both Quinn AND Preckwinkle are better campaigners than their detractors give them credit.


  27. - Boone's is Back - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 11:21 am:

    There is also talk that she is eyeing Kirk’s seat. She would be the only AA female in the US Senate. It would also enable her to run for re-election for County Board before jumping up a rung.


  28. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:01 pm:

    @Boone -

    That makes more sense, politically.

    Alexi underperformed, Kirk has abandoned his moderate positions, and Preckwinkle would beat him pretty easily.


  29. - Irish - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:08 pm:

    I believe the pension fix issue isn’t as undoable as everyone thinks.
    And the politician that steps up can get it done and be the man of the year.

    The first thing that has to be done is to stop the employee bashing and be honest. These are the two biggest stumbling blocks to any fix.

    Then current employees have to be made equal.There are employees who got everything in the contract. Their steps and their raises. Then there are employees who didn’t get either. So for an example take one of Quinn’s proposals. Reduction of two pay grades. Some employees just got a pay grade increase, other did not. As a result in this proposal the first group actually only lose one pay grade from where they were and the other group goes back two. How is that fair and equal?

    Once the playing field is leveled then lay out a series of honest proposals and the savings generated vs the cost to the employee. Have a dialogue with all stake holders and leave the politics out of it!!! I think people will be surprised at the result.
    Why has there been no cost analysis of the new health care changes. That is a cut the employees will be taking that should generate savings that could be used to pay down the pension debt. CMS is supposed to be coming up with what each employee will pay. Why are they dragging their feet? Is it because those savings are going to be used someplace else and they don’t want the savings figured as money for the pension debt? Why wasn’t that step shown as progress on pension reform? I would think that a change in the ramp and savings shown on healthcare that affects pensions of employees would show Moddy’s and the others that steps are being taken.

    As others have said it has taken years to get to this point and we are not going to change it in one. We seem to be looking for broad sweeping changes that aren’t thought out. And the Governor is just on a tirade against certain employee groups. I think the public are starting to understand that his actions are not about fixing the problem in a thoughtful and lasting way. His actions are revenge and payback with no goal other than union busting.

    There are no grounds for what the Governor did. The contract was made between the State/CMS and the Unions for all covered employees. While there are supplemental agreements that are drawn up between each agency and the Unions, those deal with special issues that are unique to that agency. Pay scales and raises have always been in the Master Agreement and not in the Supplementals. So for the Governor to make this an Agency by Agency issue on the pay is ridiculous especially when he sets the Agency’s budgets. In Quinns way of doing things he can have 30 or more different contracts. So if I want a raise then I transfer to a “good agency”. There will be some agencies that will have a hard time keeping people. Kinda flies in the face of “Everybody in no one left out”


  30. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:15 pm:

    @Irish -

    If there was one major weakness in Schnorf’s analysis (subscriber’s only!) it’s that he set aside the question of “fairness.”

    As even the IEA poll shows, “fairness” is a critical component of any workable solution. Public policy isn’t just about The Math. In fact, arguments of fairness/equity almost always trump mathematics.


  31. - K3 - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:22 pm:

    I think Preckwinkle’s reputation as a problem-solver would serve her well outside of Cook in a general. How many of those do we have in either party? Let’s also not forget she did cut taxes…


  32. - David - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:44 pm:

    The politicians created the pension mess all by themselves. They failed to fund the states portion for decades and instead, used that money for their own pet projects. Stop trying to fix this problem on the backs of the state employees and retirees. How about cutting some welfare dollars that the Dems are so quick to hand out to people who refuse to work just to get their vote. Start there and then maybe everything else will fall into place. None of these spineless politicians ever bring up cuts to welfare funding, ever. Until they cut back on the free ride for non-workers, I refuse to support any cuts to people who go to work every day and actually earn their checks, who end up paying for all those freebies.


  33. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    – How about cutting some welfare dollars that the Dems are so quick to hand out to people who refuse to work just to get their vote.–

    Oh, absolutely. Because as we all know, throughout history, power is derived from those with the least.

    How much money are we talking here? Please tell me you don’t control the purse at your government job.


  34. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 1:10 pm:

    YDD,

    You are right…but Republicans rarely listen to me, too.


  35. - RNUG - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 1:24 pm:

    Irish,

    I’m guessing CMS is waiting to publish anything until they have a clue which way the lawsuits over the “premium free 20 year health insurance” are going.

    Or they are playing politics, trying to avoid ticking off the retirees until after the election because the retirees aren’t going to be happy when they see the proposed rates.


  36. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 1:25 pm:

    @Willy -

    Let me know when your “Draft Judy” website is up-and-running.


  37. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 1:48 pm:

    YDD,

    The one thing I wouldn’t wish on anyone is my outright endorsement.

    Even Jim Edgar thinks I should be a back-bencher when thinking about going “100% overt”!

    Now, would I happen to think someone SHOULD do something like that, for ANY candidate that makes sense for me to back …

    Golly, I hate speculation.


  38. - PublicServant - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 4:11 pm:

    YDD, I’d love to see Schnorf’s Analysis, but I’m not a subscriber, and I need to save my pennies for my soon to be announced health insurance premiums…


  39. - David - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 8:47 pm:

    “How much money are we talking here? Please tell me you don’t control the purse at your government job.”

    We’re talking about 10% of the Illinois budget for welfare vs 9% for pensions. Why don’t we hear about the 10% that is breaking the bank? No, it’s always the working stiffs who get screwed.


  40. - steve schnorf - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 8:55 pm:

    David, if at all possible I would prefer not to have you on my side in this. See if you can hook up with Akin.


  41. - wishbone - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:03 pm:

    Once current state employees realize that including current retirees in any needed across the board spending cuts spreads the required pain over the maximum number of people, and therefore minimizes the pain on any one individual, I think that approach will become the preferred one. All parties are still in denial that their particular ox will end up getting gored. Once they understand that significant overall cuts are inevitable they will approve a plan that spreads the pain most widely. Ducking!


  42. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 27, 12 @ 9:48 pm:

    Awesome, Schnorf.

    Funny thing is, according to the latest IDES statistics, half the unemployed in Illinois have college educations.

    Not that I would take a wrecking ball to anyone’s Alternate Reality where all of our problems can be blamed on people who choose to be poor.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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