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Is Vulnerable Gov Pat Quinn (D. IL) Finally Rebounding In The Polls?

Two new polls show the most vulnerable Democratic Governor this election season starting to pull ahead of his Mitt Romney-esque opponent.
Is Vulnerable Gov Pat Quinn (D. IL) Finally Rebounding In The Polls?

It's been known for a while that Governor Pat Quinn (D. IL) is one of the most vulnerable Governor's struggling to win a second term this election season. Tea Party Governor Tom Corbett (R. PA) continues to remain the number one most vulnerable Governor in the country and continues to trail his Democratic opponent, Tom Wolf (D. PA) by double digits. Quinn narrowly won the Governor's race in 2010 after former Governor Rod Blagojevich (D. IL) was busted in a corruption scandal trying to sell President Obama's old U.S. Senate seat. Since taking office, Quinn has suffered in the polls due to support for pension reform and budgetary issues plus an angry electorate sick and tired of Illinois long history of corrupt politics. For a while now Quinn trailed his opponent, wealth venture capitalist and this election season's Mitt Romney, Bruce Rauner (R. IL). But a series of gaffes and revelations about Rauner's stance on the minimum wage, gay rights, workers' rights, his shady business background and his Cayman Island tax cheating are all catching up with him. It's starting to show in the latest poll from the Chicago Tribune:

Illinois voters continue to be dissatisfied with the job Democrat Pat Quinn is doing as governor, but so far they're willing to stick with him rather than switch to Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, a new Chicago Tribune poll has found.

Although the survey shows voters think Rauner is better equipped to deal with state government's massive financial problems, it also indicates that Quinn has been able to paint the wealthy Republican equity investor as out of touch. And despite a summer filled with reports on Quinn administration scandals involving state grants and patronage hiring, voters view the governor as more trustworthy than his opponent.

The poll found Quinn at 48 percent support compared with 37 percent for Rauner, with 8 percent undecided. And 5 percent went to little-known Libertarian candidate Chad Grimm — support that likely would have gone to Rauner if Republican forces had been able to knock the Libertarian Party slate off the ballot.


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The poll, conducted Sept. 3 through Friday by APC Research Inc., featured interviews on landlines and cellphones with 800 registered voters. It has an error margin of 3.5 percentage points and a confidence level of 95 percent. That means if it were possible to contact every likely voter registered in Illinois, it could be said with 95 percent certainty that the results would differ by no greater or less than 3.5 percent.

Helping fuel Quinn's early advantage was the poll's finding that 43 percent of voters identified themselves as Democrats while only 24 percent called themselves Republicans and 28 percent said they were independents. The partisan split is identical to a Tribune poll in fall 2008, when home state Democrat Barack Obama made his first bid for the White House, and also represents a high-water mark for Democrats in Illinois in a nonpresidential year since 1998.

That could indicate Illinois becoming a deeper blue state as well as potentially a further marginalizing of the Republican base in territory where the GOP has been out of power in the executive mansion and the General Assembly for more than a decade. Partisan preference is a variable demographic, since voters don't necessarily stick with one party over their lifetimes — or even a campaign cycle.

The survey results come after an unusually intense August in which Quinn and Rauner combined to air nearly $3 million worth of TV commercials on Chicago's five major broadcast stations — a total of more than 2,500 ads. That doesn't include cable TV ads or those run by a union-backed political action committee against Rauner.

Last month also marked one of the rare periods where Quinn outspent the deep-pocketed Rauner on broadcast advertising — about $1.97 million for the Democrat compared with more than $1 million for the Republican.

While the gap between Quinn and Rauner is expected to narrow closer to the Nov. 4 election, the poll results indicate the need for the Republican challenger to recalculate his campaign strategy — particularly in the traditionally Republican-leaning collar counties — something he's done in his recent TV commercials.

The survey found Quinn up handily over Rauner in Democratic-leaning Chicago as well as in suburban Cook County. At the same time, Rauner held only a slight advantage in the collar county region outside Cook, garnering 44 percent to 39 percent for Quinn. Downstate, where fewer voters live, Rauner led 48 percent to 36 percent.

The DGA put out their own poll this week giving Quinn a small lead:

A new poll commissioned by the Democratic Governors Association shows Gov. Pat Quinn for the first time pulling ahead of his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner by 3 percentage points.

It is the first time since 2013 that a poll that's been made publicly available shows Quinn leading Rauner.

Even an August internal Quinn poll showed the governor one point behind Rauner. Since the primary, Rauner has enjoyed a consistent lead that moved in and out of double-digits. Last week, Reboot Illinois published a We Ask America poll showing Rauner with a 9-point lead.

The new Democratic poll shows 5 percent of those queried chose Libertarian Chad Grimm. Republicans had unsuccessfully sought to boot Libertarians from the ballot. Democrats, meanwhile, were successful in blocking a Green Party candidate.

A memo about the internal poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group, claims Rauner's popularity has taken a plunge.

"As he has become better known, Rauner’s negative ratings have increased by 20 points among Democrats (16% fav/43% unfav to 9% fav/63% unfav) and by 13 among Independents (35% fav/21% unfav to 35% fav/34% unfav) with no increase in his positive ratings," according to the memo.

The poll, obtained by Early & Often, was a telephone survey of 605 likely Nov. 2014 Illinois voters. It was conducted Sept. 4-7 and had a margin of error is +/- 4.0 percentage points. Cross-tabs were not made available.

I'm more inclined to believe the DGA's poll and I believe this is still a very tight race but it's still one we can win. If you want to get involved with Quinn's campaign, you can do so here.

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