Too close to call

Following the GOP race for Illinois’ 16th Congressional district the last few weeks would almost guarantee the onset of vertigo. The race features a classic confrontation between a veteran politician–Don Manzullo–against a young, talented upstart–Adam Kinzinger.

Kinzinger, who handily beat blue-dog Democrat Debbie Halvorson two years ago and has since impressed many, found himself without a political home when Illinois’ majority Democrats drew the new congressional map. About the only palpable option he had was to challenge the venerable Manzullo. At the time, it seemed to make sense as Manzullo was heavily rumored to be ready to retire. Even though Manzullo slow-rolled his decision, it was difficult for Kinzinger to get an operation cranked up in the 16th since Illinois’ GOP congressional delegation agreed to a court challenge of the new map. The lawsuit fizzled, leaving Kinzinger with a shorter time frame to mount a challenge against a newly re-focused Manzullo who had since decided he wanted to keep his job.

Early on in the campaign, Kinzinger had all the momentum. At one point not too long ago, we polled Kinzinger up by as much as 13 percent. That support, as the old expression says, may have been “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Manzullo and his campaign team have ferociously fought back to the point that the race is a dead heat. How close is it? We went out to the hundredth of a percentage point to show you:

Type: Automated - Date: 3/11-12//2012 - Participants: 1,605 Likely GOP voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.44%
KinzingerManzulloUndecided
42.25%42.64%15.11%

Logic dictates that Manzullo has the momentum leading into Illinois’ March 20 Primary, but Kinzinger continues to surprise and impress many with his abilities, and may have a better GOTV effort overall. As in any race, estimates concerning turnout vary greatly depending on who’s handicapping the contest.

At any rate, it may be a very late night for the folks in Illinois 16.

Volunteer Surge?

[box] UPDATE: Needless to say, we really blew it in this one. We’re still checking into the reasons. Sometimes the process of randomization will give us a real clinker of a calling list. The same law of averages that makes polling work in the long run allows for this type of outlier. But we’ll do are best to redeem ourselves. [/box]

It appears that a late surge in Tennessee by Mitt Romney has closed the early lead that Rick Santorum had just days ago.

Does the plot of this movie sound familiar to you?

While not enough people pay attention to the delegate-heavy Volunteer State (we plead guilty), this beautiful, politically sophisticated area of the nation is important in the election juggernaut. And Romney’s machine appears to have clawed the former Massachusetts governor back into the game after being reportedly down by double digits. (We doubt this had much effect on anything, but our favorite Tennessee campaign moment: Romney’s recitation of the lyrics from Disney’s Davy Crockett.)

Here are our findings from Sunday’s calls:

Date: 3/4//2012 - Participants: 1,023 Likely GOP voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.06%
GingrichPaulRomneySantorum 
29%12%30%29%

We picked up a thread of discussion by Santorum lamenting the continued presence of Newt Gingrich in the race–understandable if you buy into his logic that he would auto-import many of Gingrich’s diehards should the former Speaker drop out. But Gingrich is hanging in there (watch him in Oklahoma, too), and will undoubtedly be a factor on Super Tuesday.

Any of the top three GOP candidates can win in Tennessee. But if last night’s poll is accurate (or even close), Romney will have pulled off an impressive come-from-behind surge in the Volunteer State.