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Rauner behind, but not out of the running yet

Poll puts Pritzker ahead by 9 points

Rich Miller
Rich Miller

According to a recent Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll, Democrat J.B. Pritzker leads Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by 9 percentage points, 36 percent to 27 percent, with 26 percent choosing an unnamed third-party candidate, and 11 percent undecided.

In other words, slightly more people said they preferred a third party and/or were undecided than supported the front-runner Pritzker.

The partisan breakdown of respondents was 41 percent Democratic, 34 percent Republican, and 25 percent saying they were independent. So, the two candidates have a ways to go to even persuade members of their own parties to stand with them.

A full 36 percent of Republicans were still either undecided (9 percent) or chose a third-party candidate (27 percent), while 27 percent of Democrats were either undecided (6) or say they are backing a third-party candidate (21).

It seems unlikely that a quarter of voters will wind up going third party on Election Day, but, hey, one never knows. Respondents who say they’re with an unnamed third-party candidate might be just temporarily parking themselves there before “coming home” in November.

But these results also show deep dissatisfaction with both candidates, and that can’t be great news for the front-runner Pritzker. Then again, I’d take his results over Rauner’s any day.

If you take a look at the attorney general candidates, you’ll see the exact same nine-point spread between the two. Sen. Kwame Raoul leads Republican Erika Harold, 44-35. Pollster Gregg Durham said he considers these to be a generic ballot test. We didn’t poll a third-party candidate in that race.

According to the poll of 600 likely voters, 56 percent have an unfavorable opinion of President Donald Trump, while 39 percent have a favorable view. That’s the exact same 56-39 split from the 2016 presidential results here.

Pritzker has spent an absolute fortune, but it’s only June, and he’s been hit with a lot of negatives since January. And keep in mind that a hobbled, unpopular Gov. Rod Blagojevich won by about 10 points during the last off-year “blue wave” in 2006 – which is right about where these races are.

One important Illinois-centric variable could be House Speaker Michael Madigan, who, it turns out, is just as or even more unpopular in Illinois as Trump. A very high 60 percent of likely Illinois voters have an unfavorable view of Madigan, while 39 percent have a favorable view.

A whopping 63 percent of independents or third-party voters have an unfavorable view of Madigan, which is higher than the 59 percent who had the same view of Trump. Fifty-six percent of women and 62 percent of men have an unfavorable view of the House speaker. (Trump’s split was 60/51.)

Back to the governor’s race, where 37 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Gov. Rauner, while a solid majority of 55 percent had an unfavorable view.

The poll, taken June 9-11 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.99 percent, found that 43 percent had a favorable opinion of J.B. Pritzker, while 39 percent had an unfavorable view.

Sixty-four percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Rauner, but 29 percent still have an unfavorable opinion of him, and 8 percent were undecided, so the governor still has a ways to go after barely winning the March GOP primary.

The poll found that 67 percent of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Pritzker, while 17 percent had an unfavorable view. Pritzker has a bit of catching up to do on his side.

Rauner is underwater with just about every demographic. Fifty-seven percent of collar-county voters and 59 percent of suburban Cook County voters have an unfavorable opinion of the governor. It’s closer downstate, where he’s underwater by two points, 44 to 46.

Again, I’d much rather have Pritzker’s numbers than Rauner’s, but the governor is not totally out of it yet. Democrats have been spiking the ball ever since the primary. They need to get to work.

Note to readers: Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and

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