As goes Illinois …

We wrap up this season’s polls with a look at some key congressional races in We Ask America’s home state, Illinois. Will President Obama’s weekend trip to Sweet Home Chicago to pump up the Democrat turnout be enough to put some close races over the top? We’ll soon know. The President has a lot at stake here. Illinois is a Smurf-blue state.  If three current seats held by Democrats (8, 11 & 14)  flip and Republicans hold on to Mark Kirk’s 10th District seat, many will howl that it’s further proof that President Obama is in deep trouble. We polled those districts yesterday to see if the national trend applies. But first, some comments:

The Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives has been predicted for weeks by just about every TV pundit worth his/her pancake makeup. The polls that seem to verify those predictions have not brought out the best from both sides. When we’ve published a poll showing a somewhat surprising result in favor of a Republican, we get calls from Democrat True Believers accusing us of the everything from being partisan hacks to having carnal knowledge of a Budweiser Clydesdale. (Our favorite: the guy who called and asked if “youse guys are former members of the Ice Capades?“) Even more disturbing are those Republicans who called thanking us for “making sure the polls come out in favor of the good guys.”

Sigh.

Let’s make one thing clear: the numbers are the numbers. We don’t have a dog in any of these hunts. We’ve compared notes with pollsters who are aligned with groups on both sides of the fence, and there is consensus that some of these districts are notoriously hard to poll, and turnout can change everything. If our numbers are wrong in any given race, it’s because we’ve failed in an honest effort to measure public opinion, not because someone cooked the books.

There…we feel better now. On with the numbers.

All of the following automated polls were conducted on Sunday, October 31. All calls were made to likely voters. Margins of error are all around 3%. In the final week’s polls, we do not offer an opportunity to selected “undecided” as an option.

DIST/RESPONSES
CANDIDATE
PCT
Illinois 8Melissa Bean (D)45.74%
773 responsesJoe Walsh (R)48.72%
Bill Scheurer (G)5.54%
Illinois 10Dan Seals (D)45.51%
861 responsesRobert Dold (R)54.49%
Illinois 11Debbie Halvorson (D)44.90%
829 responsesAdam Kinzinger (R)55.10%
Illinois 14Bill Foster (D)45.34%
784 responsesRandy Hultgren (R)50.38%
Dan Kairis (G)4.21%
Illinois 17Phil Hare (D)43.74%
1,103 responsesBobby Schilling (R)51.77%
Roger Davis (G)4.49%

The most intriguing result to us Illinois 8. Since 2004, Democrat Melissa Bean has repeatedly proved to be a winner in this district which many consider to be the most Republican-leaning area from the last redistricting. Bean defeated beleaguered Congressman Phil Crane to win the seat, and has held on since.  This time out she ran a late, but aggressive and expensive campaign against Republican Joe Walsh who did not have the resources to respond.

Almost as intriguing is Illinois 14, where cerebral Democrat Bill Foster dwarfed Republican Randy Hultgren in spending. Hultgren’s plow-horse response, though, may be enough to win the day in the district that was formerly held by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

If these two seats go Republican, the predicted GOP wave may indeed turn out to be a tsunami.

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