Illinois Numbers: Kirk, President

July 31, 2015 –Public Policy Polling surveyed the Illinois electorate (July 20-21; 931 registered Illinois voters; 409 likely Illinois Democratic primary voters; 369 likely Illinois Republican primary voters) and found each party spinning the Senate numbers very differently.

According to the data, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) scores a 42-36 percent edge over incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk (R).  Democrats obviously are claiming that Kirk is one of the weakest of GOP senators standing for election next year since their challenger already holds an outright lead.  The data indicates that Duckworth and the Democrats are taking advantage of a series of gaffes that the first-term incumbent recently uttered.  Republicans, on the other hand, point to the fact that Kirk is only six points down.  They argue that his negatives from the controversial statements will only have a short-term effect.

Kirk also finds himself in upside-down job approval territory, notching a poor 25:42 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.  Rep. Duckworth, on the other hand, records a 34:23 percent positive score.  Though the non-responding/refused to answer factor (43 percent) is high for the Duckworth question, her total name identification is strong for a lone House member in a large population state.

In any event, this is a highly competitive Senate race, and quite likely the Democrats’ best national conversion opportunity.

Presidential Campaign

The presidential numbers are also significant.  Illinois, which will vote in mid-March, is a state of great importance.  It contains the fifth largest contingent of delegates for the Democrats (190), and possesses the eighth highest corresponding number for Republicans (69).

According to PPP’s Republican numbers, it is Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) who blunts the Donald Trump move to the top that we see from most polls.  Walker holds a 23-18 percent advantage over the international businessman with Jeb Bush following in third place with just 11 percent.  The other 14 tested candidates all posted a single-digit result.

For the Democrats, in the state of her birth, Hillary Clinton again opens up a large lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT).  She hits the 60-percent mark here, according to the PPP study, while the Vermont Senator attracts 23 percent.  Clinton’s favorability index among the Land of Lincoln Democratic voters is a very strong 73:18 percent.

As seems to be the norm for Public Policy Polling, candidates routinely record upside-down favorability ratings.  In the presidential contest, 14 of the candidates from both parties were tested and all, including Hillary Clinton, posted higher negatives than positives.  Therefore, this particular polling segment is not particularly useful.

The pollsters then asked several ballot test questions, mostly pairing Clinton with different Republican potential opponents.  Below is how she fared:

Hillary Clinton (D)                 48%
Jeb Bush (R)                          39%

Hillary Clinton (D)                  47%
Dr. Ben Carson (R)                 37%

Hillary Clinton (D)                  49%
Gov. Chris Christie (R)           35%

Hillary Clinton (D)                  51%
Sen. Ted Cruz (R)                   35%

Hillary Clinton (D)                  49%
Carly Fiorina (R)                     34%

Hillary Clinton (D)                  51%
Mike Huckabee (R)                 35%

Hillary Clinton (D)                  47%
Sen. Rand Paul (R)                  37%

Hillary Clinton (D)                  49%
Sen. Marco Rubio (R)             37%

Hillary Clinton (D)                  48%
Donald Trump (R)                  32%

Hillary Clinton (D)                  50%
Gov. Scott Walker (R)             39%

As you can see, Clinton comes within the same range in virtually every Republican nominee scenario.  Since Illinois and its 20 electoral votes should be safely in the Democratic column, the numbers are not particularly surprising.  Though she leads in every instance, the results again reveal some weakness as she routinely fails to reach 50 percent against most opponents.

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