Adventures in Blago-land

As all political junkies know by now, one lone juror has–so far–kept Rod Blagojevich from becoming the Pin-up Pol for those enjoying an expense-paid stay at the government’s finer gray-bar hotels. Even though the feds pledge to re-try him soon and he faces sentencing from a perjury conviction, those of us who reside in the Land of Lincoln will be facing yet another string of his impromptu babble-thons where he whines about how the people of Illinois were robbed of his heavy-hair goodness.

Sigh.

Now that I have that out of my system, I remind you that this Quick-Shot series of polls are designed to measure the mood of Independent voters. We polled three congressional races and the race for U.S. Senate in Illinois to find out.

It’s Bleepin’ Golden – Illinois U.S. Senate: Alexi Giannoulias (D) vs. Mark Kirk (R)

What a weird race this turned out to be. Alexi Giannoulias’ well-documented woes from his family-owned bank and Mark Kirk’s spiced-up military resumé have resulted in two wounded choices come November. (The Green Party’s LeAlan Jones is underfunded and has not found a way to break through the political clutter.)

Let’s see what voters are saying at this early point in the election season:

Illinois Senate

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 998 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.11%
SENATE CHOICE
Total
Democrat
Republican
Independent
(R) Mark Kirk39.19%12.32%74.48%37.65%
(D) Alexi Giannoulias32.68%64.43%4.20%22.84%
Other/Unsure28.13%23.25%21.33%39.51%

As you can see, Kirk is enjoying a big boost from Independent voters, and is getting more of his fair share (12+%) of Democrats. Like all Illinois statewide races, the turnout in Chicago and suburban Cook County will pay a huge role in the final outcome. Our internal numbers show that this is a bit closer than this poll indicates, and all here believe that it will tighten up sooner than later.

Third Time’s the Charm? Illinois CD 10: Dan Seals (D) vs. Robert Dold (R)

Illinois 10 has been in Republican hands since 1980 when John Porter was first elected.  However, CD 10’s current member of Congress, Mark Kirk, won some very close elections by skillfully reflecting this area’s vastly changed, more moderate demographic on many bills that weren’t exactly in the GOP mainstream. Kirk’s candidacy for the Senate could bode well for the Democrats. Republican nominee Robert Dold is the owner of a pest-control business (imagine the fun he could have with TV ads with that!), and looks the role of a former Eagle Scout and community leader. He won his primary over some very skilled and better-known challengers, but clearly presents a departure from Kirk’s more moderate views.

His opponent is Democrat Dan Seals, an accomplished businessman and son of a former member of the Chicago Bears who is running for the third time in this district. As we mentioned, this district has morphed into a much more moderate demographic over the past decade. Will that be enough to overcome Independents’ trend to the right come November?

Let’s look at the results:

Illinois CD 10

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,015 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.11%
 
Total
Democrat
Republican
Independent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(R) Robert Dold40.02%10.03%82.72%36.66%
(D) Dan Seals43.24%78.51%8.09%35.19%
Other/Unsure16.74%11.46%9.19%28.15%

It’s still very early, but the nearly even split among Independent voters may make it hard for Republicans to maintain this seat. Dan Seals, who made his fair share of rookie mistakes in earlier races, now seems to firing on all cylinders. Dold, however, is a quick learner, so don’t expect a blowout here…and the trend is Dold’s friend. Plus, some believe that Seals’ best shot was 2008 when Barack Obama swept through his home state.

In the Blue-Dog House? Illinois CD 11: Incumbent Debbie Halvorson (R) vs Adam Kinzinger (R)

Illinois’ CD 11 elected Democrat Debbie Halvorson in the wake of the Obama tidal wave that hit his home state. Halvorson is no slouch as a politician, but in her first term has supported most of the social programs that may work well in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district, but riles CD 11’s somewhat conservative-leaning mix of blue and white-collar voters. Adam Kinzinger is a newcomer, and has made up for whatever lack of political experience he has with an incredible work ethic and a dream resume (strong military background and was named “Hero of the Year” by the Wisconsin Red Cross for wrestling a knife-wielding man to the ground and disarming him after the creep had cut the throat of a woman on a street in downtown Milwaukee).  Halvorson has tried to nitpick Kinzinger’s resume to no avail.

Here’s what voters are thinking at this point in time:

Illinois CD 11

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,015 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.07%
 
Total
Democrat
Republican
Independent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(D) Debbie Halvorson31.72%70.03%5.90%21.74%
(R) Adam Kinzinger51.64%13.03%86.34%53.62%
Other/Unsure16.63%16.94%7.76%24.64%

Confirmation of trouble on Halvorson’s campaign came yesterday when it was announced that she had fired her campaign manager. It’s way too early to say this is over, but things are looking pretty good for young Mr. Kinzinger.

Denny’s Den – Illinois CD 14: Incumbent Bill Foster (D) vs. Randy Hultgren (R)

Illinois CD 14 was the long-time seat for former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert (R). When the seat was won by Democrat Bill Foster in a special election and in the General, many GOPsters  viewed it as a colossal rip in the universe. But in reality, Republicans put up a candidate with lots of baggage, and not enough credit was given to Foster who is a very bright man indeed. Foster was previously a research scientist for Fermilab where he dealt with quarks and particle accelerators–a huge contrast from his opponent who was a smart, but blunt businessman. Foster may be able to hum crossword puzzles, but some of his votes for big-government initiatives have provided fodder for his opponents in a district that has a moderately conservative core with growing pockets of progressives.

Randy Hultgren is a state senator who beat Hastert’s son, Ethan, in the primary despite having almost no money and being up against the former Speaker’s political juggernaut. The affable Hultgren again finds himself far behind in the money, but is reportedly working hard…as is his opponent.

Let’s see what the latest numbers show:

Illinois CD 14

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,028 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.05%
 
Total
Democrat
Republican
Independent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(D) Bill Foster37.07%76.49%8.41%32.42%
(R) Randy Hultgren44.09%7.72%77.18%42.31%
Other/Unsure18.84%15.79%14.41%25.27%

Looking deeper into our internal numbers, we think it’s safe to say that this is  bit closer than the head-to-head numbers indicate. Should Hultgren prove that he’s hanging in there, money might flow faster. If not, Foster’s huge cash lead will be tough to overcome.

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