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Poll: Pritzker leads Kennedy and Biss 39-15-6

Monday, Oct 23, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Democrat JB Pritzker spent $21 million on his gubernatorial campaign through the end of September and recently opened his tenth campaign field office. The billionaire spent more money on staff and consultants last quarter ($1.5 million) than any of his primary opponents raised.

The spending appears to be paying off. A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of 1,154 likely Democratic primary voters has Pritzker with 39 percent of the vote, far ahead of the rest of the pack.

Chris Kennedy, who has struggled to raise money and hasn’t run any TV ads to date, was at just 15 percent—a whopping 24 points behind the frontrunner Pritzker. Word is going around that one of Pritzker’s own recent polls had him ahead of Kennedy by 17 points.

State Sen. Daniel Biss, who has had more success at raising money than expected, but appears to be hoarding most of it for later, was at just 6 percent in the poll taken October 17-18 with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

The other two Democrats, Tio Hardiman and Bob Daiber, each polled at just 1 percent. 47 percent of the poll’s respondents were made to mobile phones by live callers. Automated calls were made to landline users.

Is it over? No. The primary isn’t until March. With 36 percent of Democrats currently undecided, somebody could still make this a race—but that somebody is gonna have to run a better campaign than they are now. And right now, the only person running a full-on campaign operation is Pritzker.

“There will be plenty of polls in this race,” the Kennedy campaign claimed, “but clearly there’s a reluctance among Democratic voters to support JB. After spending more than $20 million and being unchallenged on TV for months, that he can only get about a third of the electorate to support him shows that voters are looking for fundamental change. They recognize JB is an extension of the status quo. There’s a long way to go until March and we’re confident that when voters tune into the race and hear Chris Kennedy’s message, we win.”

If you look at Kennedy’s poll that he released in July, its Kennedy-Pritzker matchup had Pritzker at 38 percent, which is about the same place as he is now. Kennedy was at 44, but this new poll shows he has dropped like a rock—perhaps because he isn’t on TV and doesn’t have nearly the ground game that Pritzker does. Either way, the margin is what’s important, and the margin is huge.

Pritzker leads in every region of the state. He’s at 39 percent in Chicago, 42 in suburban Cook County, 37 in the suburban collar counties and 39 Downstate. Kennedy does best in Chicago and the collars, at 18 percent. Biss does best in suburban Cook, where he lives, at 11.

Biss slightly outpolls Kennedy 13-12 among 18-24 year olds, but Pritzker takes the traditionally low-turnout (particularly in off years) demographic with 27 percent. Pritzker leads his two top rivals Kennedy and Biss among women 39-15-5, and among men 40-16-8. More women (39 percent) are undecided than men (33 percent).

The poll found that 56 percent of Democrats have a favorable impression of Pritzker, while 7 percent have an unfavorable opinion. Another 16 percent hadn’t yet heard of the billionaire and 21 percent were neutral.

Kennedy’s favorables were 41 percent, and his unfavorables were just 4 percent. But 30 percent hadn’t heard of him and another 25 percent were neutral, signaling that if he could ever raise any real money he might possibly be able to make this a race. But that clock is ticking as Pritzker continues to spend millions.

Kennedy does best among the 65 and over crowd, with 17 percent. And his favorable numbers are significantly higher among respondents aged 55-64 (42 percent) and 65+ (43 percent). That makes sense since those folks would have been alive when Kennedy’s father Robert and his uncle John were in the public eye.

According to the poll, 69 percent of Democrats have not yet heard of Sen. Biss. Surprisingly enough, that’s actually more than the 66 percent who hadn’t heard of Bob Daiber and the 60 percent who hadn’t heard of Tio Hardiman, although Hardiman did run against Pat Quinn in the 2014 Democratic primary.

Just 13 percent of Democrats gave Biss a favorable rating, compared to 3 percent who rated him unfavorably and 15 percent who were neutral. Both Hardiman and Daiber had slightly higher favorable ratings than Biss (15 percent for each).

It seems like everything in politics has been on an accelerated timetable this year, so Biss had better do something fast.

Subscribers have the crosstabs, plus some other results.


  1. - Shelby County Dem - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 9:30 am:

    If Kennedy ever gets on TV I think he pulls ahead.

  2. - Northsider - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 9:30 am:

    Even by my sketchy math skills, 2/5 is more than “about a third.”

    I’d like to see more polling to determine if this is a trend or outlier, but I get the sense that Biss is now done and Kennedy’s not too far behind.

  3. - VanillaMan - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 9:34 am:

    C’mon guys, please don’t let Mr. Toilet-Ripper-Outter buy this nomination. He stands for nothing original, interesting or new. He has a committee putting drivel in his mouth, air in his ads and fuel in his jets.

    At least get him out in public and doing something resembling manual labor.

    Rauner has the whole Hell’s Angels role, Pritzker ndeds a monster truck crushing Harleys to play this game.

  4. - LakeEffect - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 9:52 am:

    If Kennedy runs two tracks for three weeks statewide, a Pia and a pritzker negative, he will win. That will cost about 5 million dollars in ads. So I guess it depends how much Kennedy can/will personally spend. Ironic.

  5. - Arsenal - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 9:53 am:

    At some point, Pritzker’s rivals are going to have to stop talking about how unfairly they’ve been treated and engage with the facts that Pritzker is saying stuff most Democrats agree with and has built a strong organization.

  6. - Loop Lady - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 10:21 am:

    Not getting my panties in a wad over this very early poll…

  7. - Loop Lady - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 10:21 am:

    and what VM said…cmon people…

  8. - Cassandra - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 10:29 am:

    I think the trend towards the mega-rich buying state governorships is really scary, given the extraordinarily oversized influence the very wealthy already have on US politics. So even though I don’t always agree with Biss’ proposals, I had hoped that his campaign would prosper. Maybe his position will improve once the election comes into more focus for average citizens. If he stays in that long.

  9. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    So much for the Camelot factor.

  10. - TopHatMonocle - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 10:38 am:

    So much for that 44%.

    For everyone wondering why Pritzker wouldn’t release a poll with him in the lead, you’re about to see why. The gloves are gonna come off and they’ll be taking even bigger swings at Pritzker.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 10:49 am:

    ===For everyone wondering why Pritzker wouldn’t release a poll with him in the lead, you’re about to see why. The gloves are gonna come off and they’ll be taking even bigger swings at Pritzker===

    With respect,

    The Pritzker Crew is $20+ million in.

    Who in their right mind thought that 1) Pritzker is trying to run under the radar 2) Pritzker with his wealth and spending was ever going to just be “another” name on the ballot.

    The Pritzker Crew deciding not to release any of their polling before Rich did now makes me suspect of what polling the Pritzker Crew now decides to let out.

    If your numbers can be out first and then, and only then, have a 3rd party verify your trend, that’s how you build and give both, not just yours, not just the 3rd party, instant credibility to what you want to show.


    “Yeah, that’s where we had it”

    Yeah, ok, you’re leading by 20+ points, outspending at clips measured in tens to one, but now you’ll verify your own polls validity after the 3rd party poll?


    The smarter play, by far, was to leak numbers that had a lead, a trend, and then let Rich’s poll verify, and then use those numbers, both sets to try to dry up support.


    It’s their campaign, they are leading according to this poll. They’re professionals, they know what they’re doing.

    That’s not snark, that’s my take, and they are doing what they feel and know to them is right.

    Piggy backing off these numbers by them won’t have, for me, the same weight as I explained above.

  12. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    Top Hat, I think the idea of releasing the poll is to discourage potential Kennedy and Biss contributors from writing checks.

    As far as the gloves coming off, I think Kennedy and Biss will be going at it now to get the other to drop out. They’re chasing the same voters and contributors.

    With his money and organization advantages, JB will be very tough to beat if both of them are on the primary ballot.

  13. - Anon0091 - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    “Rauner has the whole Hell’s Angels role, Pritzker ndeds a monster truck crushing Harleys to play this game.”

    Really VMan? You think the G-droppin’, Carhartt wearin’ and Harley ridin’ thing is the way to go? You have an objection to JB other than his wealth? You PO’d by the $15 minimum wage?

  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 11:14 am:

    My other takeaways…

    The Kennedy name. It’s worth 8-10 points, given where both Kennedy and Biss are currently at, and how they got there, mirroring the limited paid media exposure and this poll shows where they exist on name ID and how that polls in this field. Kennedy’s name within the MOE is worth about 8-10 points.

    Kennedy needs to start spending to the slightly changed adage “spend money to raise money” when your name is Kennedy.

    Kennedy can’t tell his alleged national donors that being at 16 with no spending is really that great and then in the same breath ask for “real money” donations. It was Kennedy himself that blew the caps allowing Bruce Rauner to, when he chooses, to dump millions in ads to defend himself, attack any of them, and do it since the Summer, while Kennedy has yet to take advantage of the caps blown.

    Kennedy gets to the mid-twenties, then a better case for Bill Daley and Kennedy to get some money

    Biss’ challenges aren’t aren’t necessarily money.

    Biss needs, and ice said it here before, to build from homes, to restaurants, to school gymnasiums, to school football fields.

    It’s the building of a movement, like “Bernie” is what Biss needs to move numbers and spending now, as Kennedy needs to, makes no sense when building that “movement” model campaign.

    Biss faces a huge challenge that free media like Bernie got won’t be close to what may be needed. Ask Chuy about that when he ran against Rahm. Also, the national fervor was ginned up with multiple free mass media, like cable tv, Sunday news shows, national periodicals and press. A state, any state, isn’t fully capable to feed that type of movement circa statewide race, but Biss can really stick around and see how wounded the others get and possibly be that “other choice” away from the others, if wounded.

    Kennedy needs to Spend.

    Biss needs to organize, “wait”, and be ready to pounce with some good timing needed too.

  15. - VanillaMan - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    ==Really VMan? You think the G-droppin’, Carhartt wearin’ and Harley ridin’ thing is the way to go? You have an objection to JB other than his wealth? ==

    JB has no common man image. Rauner does. JB looks like he works out at the same health club as Grover Cleveland and the Monopoly Man. Give JB a shovel. Put him in a cab. Make him look like he knows how to lift his own forks at tbe dinner table. Put JB in a tractor. JB is a cartoon billionaire waiting to get popped.

  16. - Arsenal - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    ==JB has no common man image. Rauner does.==

    Neither one is a “common man”, but Rauner tries to fake it. Frankly, to his detriment. Pritzker shouldn’t try to fake it. It won’t work.

  17. - Northsider - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    ==JB has no common man image. Rauner does.==

    What color is the sky in your world?

  18. - Red fish blue fish - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 12:08 pm:

    Nov 2018 ballot:
    How do you prefer your VC overlord– with shades of red or blue?

    Excuse the snark, but Bernie Samders democrats need to coalesce around a candidate like Biss or Kennedy sooner rather than later.

    Pritzker would be a much better candidate if he wasn’t tainted by his connections to Madigan.

  19. - Red fish blue fish - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 12:09 pm:


  20. - Anon221 - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 12:30 pm:

    VM- Rauner has several common man Costumes, not necessarily an image per se. Any common man image he may try to project is a two-dimensional cutout at best.

  21. - Ghost - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 12:35 pm:

    This just in, Kennedy crowned as queen of an African river; tucks in half his shirt and says he is ready to fight, then heads home to watch Disney channel.

  22. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 1:08 pm:

    “Neither one is a “common man”, but Rauner tries to fake it. Frankly, to his detriment. Pritzker shouldn’t try to fake it. It won’t work.”

    That’s one thing that I like about Pritzker, that he doesn’t put on phony working class costumes and airs. It’s time to make Rauner’s phoniness a campaign issue.

    I think Pritzker has run a very good campaign so far, and it’s paying off.

  23. - VanillaMan - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 1:35 pm:

    It’s the elephant in the room, besides JB, that is. Forbe’s multi-billionaire thinks he can relate to average person.


    You might think he worked to earn it, but he hasn’t. What’s his tip on high property taxes again? What’s his tip on how to get the penthouse at a Hyatt? What’s his recipe for government cheese, that is, besides buying the Kraft corporation?

    Dude is wide open and waiting for Rauner to define him as the guy who inherited everything and now thinks he knows something about making ends meet. What?, he spent time talking to his maids?

    Get his flabby derrier on a horse and start trying.

  24. - Arsenal - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    ==now thinks he knows something about making ends meet==

    Except that Pritzker never really makes that argument.

    I mean, his tent-pole story about growing up includes his mom telling him, “You didn’t earn this.”

  25. - Quiet Sage - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    Pritzker has Madigan/party/labor backing AND has taken the most progressive positions of any candidate. This is in stark contrast to the 2016 presidential primaries, where Clinton had the whole Democratic establishment behind her but in terms of issues was totally outflanked on the left by Sanders. Kennedy has the political name, no doubt. But John and Robert were heroes of the sixties. To whole generations they are now historical figures. It will be tough, not impossible, for Kennedy to win.

  26. - Arsenal - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    ==Pritzker has Madigan/party/labor backing AND has taken the most progressive positions of any candidate.==

    I’m not sure they’re universally the *most* progressive, but they’re certainly more progressive than Kennedy’s.

  27. - Leftist Lou - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    What a choice the Illinois voter will have. Rauner vs. JB.

    Rauner has little to run on. His term in office has been embarrassing. One hot mess after another. No ability to work together to get at least something done.

    Then there’s JB. I’m not talking about commercial JB, who worked his way up through a terrible childhood. I’m talking about silver spoon JB. The one who has more billons than Rauner, only he didn’t earn it. The JB who bartered with Blago for a government position. If he was willing to buy an office, will he be willing to sell one.

    And that’s why it is only going to get worse sports fans.

  28. - Arsenal - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 3:11 pm:

    ==If he was willing to buy an office, will he be willing to sell one.==

    Fortunately, then, he wasn’t willing to buy one.

  29. - Christopher - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 3:39 pm:

    Vanilla Man:
    I have a sense of humor but JB Pritzker’s weight has nothing to do with my decision to vote for him. You don’t need to make remarks like those: “It’s the elephant in the room, besides JB, that is . . . his flabby derrier
    . . . “

  30. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 3:40 pm:

    I was terribly remiss…

    Rich, thank you so much for doing this poll and allow us to get a snapshot of this race.

    This is why this is the place you go to when looking at or trying to understand Illinois governing and politics and I know I’m grateful for things like polling that you do.

    So Rich, thanks.

  31. - Anon0091 - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 3:49 pm:

    “You might think he worked to earn it, but he hasn’t.”

    Yea, other than building his firm, building the tech community including 1871 and about 1/2 dozen other organizations, building the Holocaust Museum, leading on early childhood education, turning around the Human Rights Commission and supporting dozens of philanthropic causes, you’re right VMAN, he’s just been handed everything.

  32. - Honeybear - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 4:24 pm:

    Vanillaman, as someone who is overweight, your words are hurtful. pritzkers inherited wealth is fair game but his weight is, in my opinion, not.
    As to his inherited wealth and how he’s used it, I find his philanthropy and tech venture capital endeavors to be a positive use of wealth.
    As opposed to Rauner who has used his wealth to buy a political party and subvert its values, buy, break up companies and sell them off. Rauner is a perfidious destroyer
    Rauner is Malum in se
    I’m not sure where your words came from. They seemed out of character from your usual piercing insights. I take attacks of weight quite personally even when not directed at me. Invalidating someone because their weight , in my opinion, is
    unbecoming and puerile.

  33. - My two cents - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 6:32 pm:

    Kennedy has to swing at Pritzker and he needs to do it now. His revolution speech was good.

    Kennedy’s points are probably go down well with the general voters. But this will be a big uphill battle for him to win the primary. The idea of a “toxic” establishment candidate is less of an issue for Democratic Primary.

    That being said, the Democrats need to understand that voters are frustrated.

  34. - VanillaMan - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 7:46 pm:

    Pritzker looks like an out of touch multi-billionaire. He needs to tell us how he can realte. Maybe he can’t. Whatever. Address it, or Rauner will.

    It’s odd that the Democrats are so itching to get behind one of the richest men in the country - inherited wealth - and don’t see a problem here.

    2016 showed that the Democrats are blinded to the feelings of the citizens who work with their hands, don’t have a college education, and aren’t a politically defined special interest. If no one is going to poke this guy in his craw over this, Rauner will.

    I don’t want Rauner reelected. I see this JB problem quite clearly, if the Democrats don’t.

    Get on it.

  35. - VanillaMan - Monday, Oct 23, 17 @ 9:33 pm:

    I better address the fat comments - JB is a big rotund guy who doesn’t have a weight problem, he has an image problem. He’s a big target. Christie, who I supported over Trump is fatter, but he wasn’t a multi-billionaire too. Chris is just a big mouth Springsteen fan from Jersey. He used his weight as a great ice breaker many times. He made it part of why you could identify with him.

    JB is too perfect not to target as an out of touch multi-billionaire. Rauner’s going to go after him. JB has to address this and make it work like Christie did.

  36. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Oct 24, 17 @ 7:36 am:

    VanillaMan, I’ve met JB 3 times. He’s instantly engaging, open and not arrogant at all. The last time we met we spent several minutes talking. He got my contact information and there was follow up a week later. I did not experience him as an out of touch billionaire at all. It’s true, I’m privileged by education, and socio-economic status. However I’m acutely aware of that as I work in the third largest pocket of poverty and need in the state every day. So I think I’m pretty self aware and an excellent judge of character.
    Honestly VanillaMan, have you met him?
    I’m still going to call you on the fat-shaming.
    just stop
    There is no comparison to Christy. Christy is a jerk and failed Governor
    Same Perfidy
    Same Results
    I believe Pritzker can beat Rauner
    I believe Pritzker can actually govern

    I think the problem you’re having is that instead of doing your due diligence to learn about a candidate you’re letting your pre-conceived notions of obesity and wealth overshadow not only the necessity of defeating Rauner but more importantly seeing the best in someone who will more than likely be leading our state.
    Pollyannaish? Maybe…. Probably
    I can live with that.
    I’m a good person.
    I believe JB is a good person too.
    and not just because we are both overweight.
    Pritzker vs Rauner
    How has each used their money?

  37. - Bobby Kennedy - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 4:22 am:

    Who cares??? Illinois is not governable

  38. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 1, 17 @ 9:34 am:

    I think Chris has this in the bag once the TV debates get up in January. JB has a lot of dirt on him and I have some serious doubts about his chances of winning.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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