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Another look at the WGN poll

Monday, May 16, 2022

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin has spent tens of millions of billionaire Ken Griffin’s dollars introducing himself to Republican primary voters. Yet a recent poll taken for WGN-TV by Emerson College Polling shows he’s leading state Sen. Darren Bailey by just 4 percentage points, 24-20%, with 19% split between the other four candidates and undecideds “leading” with 37%.

Irvin’s TV ads have tended to focus on crime (or corruption), but just 15% of Republican primary voters rate crime as their top issue, while 54% said the economy was at the top of their list.

Irvin has big leads over Bailey when asked which candidate “is best suited to tackle crime in Illinois.” He’s ahead of Bailey overall 30-20 with GOP primary voters on the issue, including 32-20 with whites (the vast majority of the GOP base), 38-18 in the suburbs, 33-13 in Chicago, 34-23 with men and 27-16 with women. Bailey is just barely behind outside of the Chicago metro region on the topic at 24-23. If crime were really and truly topmost to Republican primary voters, Irvin would be walking away with this.

Bailey is keeping it close overall partly because he’s just slightly ahead of Irvin on the all-important economy issue, 22-21. And that’s because Bailey leads Irvin by 8 points (25-15) outside metro Chicago on the topic and leads slightly among women (19-17).

According to the poll, 56% of whites, 57% of men, 51% of women, 54% of suburban voters and 61% of Downstaters put the economy at the top of their list, with just 32% of Chicago Republicans prioritizing it and putting the topic in second place.

On crime, the poll found that just 14% of whites, 15% of men, 14% of women, 13% of suburbanites and 10% of Downstaters had the issue at the top of their list, while 40% of Chicago Republicans said it was No. 1.

The Irvin people have said in the past that he is using the crime issue to signal to voters that, despite his outward appearance, he’s actually a Republican, without having to trumpet his specific party affiliation in most (not all) of his advertising. It’s worked as far as that purpose goes, but he’s not yet speaking loudly to the top voter concern. Even so, there’s plenty of time and Griffin money to move on to other items. We’ll see.

The Irvin campaign claims the Democratic Governors Association and Dan Proft’s People Who Play by the Rules PAC have spent about $8 million attacking their guy, with another $2 million or so on the way in new DGA ads.

The Irvin campaign just reloaded with $25 million from the state’s wealthiest resident, Griffin, after apparently burning through most of Griffin’s initial $20 million “investment.” The fact that he’s only attracting less than a quarter of the primary vote after all that ought to be hugely concerning. But, as noted above, there’s still time to crack the ceiling.

Those anti-Irvin ads are quite obviously having an impact on Irvin’s numbers — holding the nominal frontrunner down with the hope that Bailey’s campaign can somehow catch fire. But Bailey is such a hapless and cashless candidate that he’s going to need something huge.

Bailey has been trying like heck to win former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Bailey recently attended a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Mary Miller and has been posting the photo he took with Trump on his social media feeds. He touts the fact that he was a Trump delegate in 2020 and has shown endless irritation at being labeled by Irvin as a never-Trumper Democrat.

But a WTTW news story late last week about how Irvin once said he hated Trump and called the former president an “idiot” and “bigoted racist” might help Bailey secure that nod.

The poll showed that 57% of GOP primary voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who was endorsed by Trump. Of that large majority of folks who said they’d be more likely to vote for the candidate, 34% were undecided voters.

In other words, Bailey has to secure that Trump nod. It may very well be his only path to prevent those undecideds from eventually breaking toward Irvin. It’ll hurt Bailey in the general election, of course, but that’s for another time.

As subscribers know, I now believe that Darren Bailey may finally have enough money to compete. We’ll see what sort of home stretch race he and his benefactors run.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

39 Comments
  1. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 8:55 am:

    “without having to trumpet his specific party affiliation”

    Looks like internal republican polling has also shown the obvious - that the republican brand has become toxic, or at the very least the brand is moving in the wrong direction perception-wise.


  2. - Cheryl44 - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 8:58 am:

    I didn’t realize I never heard Bailey’s voice until I heard it this weekend. It’s not that I’d vote for him under any circumstances, but that voice. Fingernails on a chalkboard.


  3. - Downstate - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:01 am:

    Bailey, due to his Covid antics, had better name recognition going into this. I think his support tops out at 20%.

    Candidly, the more I got to know Bailey, the less I liked him.


  4. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:02 am:

    My first big question is if that Bailey number is where his ceiling is.

    If it’s not his ceiling, in the primary, how much higher can Bailey go while keeping the extreme thoughts (although if you look at Bailey’s candidacy, it’s difficult to see how Bailey can go even further Right…) out of mainstream media as his embraced base platform.

    So…


  5. - Torco Sign - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:03 am:

    I disagree with Rich about Bailey needing to get the endorsement from Trump. The anti-Trump texts are a game-changer. Even if nobody gets the endorsement, voters will move against Irvin because he is now being defined as the anti-Trump guy. That’s a political killer.


  6. - Arsenal - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:04 am:

    I’m actually dubious that Bailey has enough money to win, but he’s close, and he could get it soon.

    My thing is, all of the Proft and DGA ads don’t and can’t say “Vote for Bailey”. At some point, he needs ads that do that. You can only tear Irvin down so much, and he’s already struggling to get a quarter of the vote, so you can’t realistically get him that much lower. Bailey needs to start boosting his own vote instead.

    The U-Line money bomb/ad buy are a good start, but $2M gets you, what, like 2 weeks of ads? He’s going to need more to close this out.


  7. - Justintime - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:21 am:

    With early voting staring soon they may have less time than they think. Problem for the GOP voters do they go with the true conservative guy or take a chance with the guy who can win in the general.
    BTW Cheryl44 is a voice bigot LOL.


  8. - Too cute by half - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:21 am:

    This is like the 3rd time I’ve read someone write, almost verbatim, “Despite his outward appearance, he’s actually a Republican.”

    Can anyone explain what that’s supposed to mean, exactly?


  9. - JS Mill - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:22 am:

    Bailey on tv in Chicago is a double edged sword. He get the “vote Bailey” word out but he will turn off a lot of Chicago voters based on who he is and what he believes. Don’t forget, he wanted to secede from Illinois (well, he said kick Chicago out of Illinois) and that will come up in the Chicago market at some point.

    But who knows.

    =being defined as the anti-Trump guy. That’s a political killer.=

    Doubtful up north.


  10. - Arsenal - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:26 am:

    ==Bailey, due to his Covid antics, had better name recognition going into this.==

    I think the effect of that stuff is easy to overstate. You’ve got some drama on the House Floor and a lawsuit. Both of those things are the kind of stuff voters tune out, and they both happened two years ago. Bailey has a strong following among the faithful, and that ain’t nothing, not at all. But I bet his name rec is still poor.


  11. - Arsenal - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:26 am:

    ==he will turn off a lot of Chicago voters==

    Not the ones who vote in Republican primaries.


  12. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:31 am:

    ===Not the ones who vote in Republican primaries.===

    If you refuse to look at the biting universe all these folks are trying to “impress”, than a great deal of what Rich wrote can be confusing.

    It’s not a slam, I find myself needing recalibrating, taking a breath, then realize the “who” that is this primary voter


  13. - VerySmallRocks - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:32 am:

    Oh, yeh, economics, as in “economic anxiety”, while waging war on democracy and anyone who doesn’t look like or think like they do.


  14. - Bruce( no not him) - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:36 am:

    I keep hearing about Bailey trying for the trump endorsement.
    But, I keep seeing Miller, Bailey, Trump signs.
    A lot of folks downstate already think Bailey has the endorsement.
    And Miller and Bailey are encouraging the mis info.


  15. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:40 am:

    “to signal to voters that, despite his outward appearance, he’s actually a Republican”

    Also his liberal statements, voting history and Chicago Machine type stuff like pay to play appearance. Now there’s hatred of Trump to add to this.

    If Bailey loses it probably won’t be for a lack of oppo material to use against Irvin.


  16. - Pundent - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:43 am:

    =He get the “vote Bailey” word out but he will turn off a lot of Chicago voters based on who he is and what he believes.=

    Traditional Republican voters maybe, but those that adhere to purity tests may easily overlook this. The calls to secede are nothing more than a dog whistle and the calling out of those that “don’t share our values.” And that message plays to the base regardless of geography.


  17. - MisterJayEm - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:46 am:

    “Can anyone explain what that’s supposed to mean, exactly?”

    It means that he’s now an honest-and-for-true Republican despite a lifetime history of voting and running for office as a Democrat.

    It also means that he’s now a genuine Republican despite the party’s overt embrace of baldfaced (and deadly) racism.

    Hope that clears it up.

    – MrJM


  18. - cermak_rd - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:55 am:

    Are Chicago Republicans monolithic though? I remember a decade ago or so there were a number of Republicans in the burbs who just wanted lower taxes, but otherwise were not into culture wars or what not. Most of those were educated professionals so I doubt they would have been overly impressed with some of the GOP’s modern anti-intellectual movement. Did all those DuPage Republicans move or die?


  19. - Annonin' - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:56 am:

    Thinkin’ the RichieRich texts show some clear vision for the first time. Trump is a filthy bigot pig. Before ‘Riffie rented Irwin the man was a clear thinker.


  20. - Roman - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 9:59 am:

    == it’s difficult to see how Bailey can go even further Right ==

    Agreed. Maybe he goes more “populist” than right? Argues that Irvin (through his ties to Griffin) is a tool of the wealthy elites, just like JB?


  21. - JS Mill - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:06 am:

    =Not the ones who vote in Republican primaries.=

    I just don’t see an overwhelming embrace of trump from the Chicago area republicans. I don’t have a study or poll to back that up, so it is totally anecdotal. And he needs a huge piece of that pie because his base of downstate revival tent folks won’t be enough to win the primary.

    And if he speaks in the ads up north, yikes.


  22. - Cheryl44 - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:10 am:

    I can live with the voice bigot label.


  23. - NwIllinois - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:11 am:

    First, the summer primary may mean lower turnout, which means the truly dedicated gop voters will determine the election. I really don’t believe polls mean anything, I believe they miss certain voters, and people are relunctant to give answers.
    I believe Bailey is the most likely nominee.
    First he has the backng of a large network of social conservatives and they do vote in numbers, Remember 4 years ago Jeanne Ives took 48% of the vote primariy as opposition to Rauner’s views on Abortion. Many of these same people are backing Bailey. Second gop turnout is slowly changing. The suburban gop vote is lessening due to the suburbs changing demographics and voting patterns On the other hand gop strenght is growing downstate especially south of Springfield, as previous areas there have turned from blue to red. Downstate voters will have more influence than before and Bailey will do very well there.
    Third in NW IL. I see strong support for Bailey and little for Irvin among party activists and elected officials. I think nearly all the downstate counties will go strong for Bailey. My prediction is Bailey 40%, Irvin 35%, with 25% for the others,


  24. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:17 am:

    Trump versus electability - Irvin’s team knows the answer. Bailey/Trump will get traction in parts of IL, but Dupage GOP leadership, whom I have spoken with are pragmatic and will work for Irvin.


  25. - Joe Bidenopolous - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:22 am:

    =I just don’t see an overwhelming embrace of trump from the Chicago area republicans.=

    Anecdotal, but as a city resident, I can tell you that the Republicans I encounter out in the Chicago wild tend to be *very* Trumpy


  26. - Pundent - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:22 am:

    =I just don’t see an overwhelming embrace of trump from the Chicago area republicans.=

    Trump expanded the electorate and brought people into the party that normally sat on the sidelines. So while Irvin might appeal to the traditionalists, he’s lacking purity which is necessary for those that demand it. It’s an opportunity that Bailey can exploit if he uses his resources effectively.


  27. - Arsenal - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:37 am:

    ==I just don’t see an overwhelming embrace of trump from the Chicago area republicans.==

    Maybe not, but they’re not necessarily repulsed by him, either.

    That being said, thanks to Mrs. Arsenal (”Arsenal WFC”?) I spend a fair to middling amount of time in Sauganash and the cops I talk to up there *Do* love Trump.


  28. - Left of what - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:37 am:

    To the point about Chicago or suburban Republicans - it might seem more intuitive to think they would be more moderate or liberal because of proximity to a large city. What actually happens though when you study public opinion is the opposite. You get a backlash effect and people are usually more partisan in their beliefs if they’re in a geographic region that votes, in aggregate, opposite of their own preferences.


  29. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:42 am:

    Parsing “who” or “whom” the GOP voters are in a primary, look at “who” and “where” Jeanne Ives garnered her votes, one on one, with Rauner.

    It’s not a question of “if” Bailey can make in-roads in suburban “She-Caw-Go”, the real question is with Rabine and Sullivan running, can Bailey get enough of the “Ives-type” voters to eclipse ~34-39% to win this primary.

    It’s embarrassing to think Trumpkins aren’t littering DuPage, Lake, “Kendall”, Will counties, even Cook county.

    Polling suggests over 50% of the GOP electorate view Trump as a positive.


  30. - Pundent - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:47 am:

    =Polling suggests over 50% of the GOP electorate view Trump as a positive.=

    And for those with that view Irvin’s appeal may be lacking. As OW correctly observed they do have multiple options. That could likely be Bailey’s more immediate hurdle. Running against Rabine and Sullivan, or convincing one or both of them to drop out, might be the more effective strategy. The crowded field clearly favors Irvin.


  31. - Tony - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:53 am:

    I simply want to know what Ken Griffin’s ROI is on this race. Irvin MUST be giving him something. Unless there’s a major misstep, it looks like Pritzker will coast to re-election. The people fleeing Illinois are not HIS base…..


  32. - Mayflower voyager - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:09 am:

    Would Trump endorse a guy who is in second place in a primary, and probably cannot beat the incumbent governor? I kinda doubt it. I mean, he doesn’t want to be seen as a guy who backs losers. I bet Trump sits this one out, for now anyway.


  33. - Mayflower voyager - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:11 am:

    =Bailey has a strong following among the faithful, and that ain’t nothing, not at all=

    Only among the fringe right. Not the mainstream


  34. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:19 am:

    ===he doesn’t want to be seen as a guy who backs losers===

    lol


  35. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:21 am:

    ===Would Trump endorse a guy who is in second place in a primary, and probably cannot beat the incumbent governor?===

    It’s about owning a party. Winning races overall is just gravy if it happens.


  36. - levivotedforjudy - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:37 am:

    Donald Trump got more than a half-million votes in Cook County in 2020 (more than in 2016). I wouldn’t underestimate a Trump endorsement of Bailey. A lot of people won’t admit it, but a lot of people in Cook County did vote for Trump.


  37. - Arsenal - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:39 am:

    ==Only among the fringe right. Not the mainstream ==

    While we could argue over who is the “fringe” and who is “mainstream” anymore in today’s ILGOP, it doesn’t really matter. Having a committed base, as Bailey does, certainly helps. It’s just not necessarily enough, on it’s own.


  38. - JS Mill - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 12:23 pm:

    =The crowded field clearly favors Irvin.=

    With this, I agree.

    =I spend a fair to middling amount of time in Sauganash and the cops I talk to up there *Do* love Trump.=

    I would love to know why law enforcement loves trump. Really. They are supposed to be honest and truthful defenders and somewhat tough.

    Trump is none of those things. Not even a little.


  39. - Arsenal - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 1:27 pm:

    ==I would love to know why law enforcement loves trump.==

    In an era of increased scrutiny on their privileged place in our society, he is the loudest voice saying that they should have *more* privilege and be *more* powerful.


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