Illinois Orphans

Illinois is one of those areas considered by some as an “orphan state.” Barack Obama will surely win here easily with Chicago leading the parade. Like the other orphan states (California & New York)  candidates in key Illinois congressional races cannot count on millions of dollars being spent to by the campaigns of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney to persuade voters to put their state in the red or blue column on magic white board election night.  The congressional races are in essence the campaigns leading the parade but they are on their own. It also means that in some of these targeted districts, President Obama’s home state advantage is a bonus for Democrats aspiring to knock off Republican opponents. Just so we can pile on even more, the new congressional maps in Illinois were drawn totally by the controlling Democratic Party.

Since some of the polling we’ve done for clients here have recently been released or leaked and we’ve received requests to publicly poll these races, we went back into these six key districts over the past two days to offer up public results. We’ll give you a thumbnail sketch of each with the basic numbers.

Illinois 17 (NW Illinois)

Located in Northwest Illinois, IL-17 is chock full of blue-collar conservative Democrats. While the new map makes it bluer than the current district, Republican Bobby Schilling was a surprise winner here in the 2010 against incumbent Phil Hare. When We Ask America first wrote about that race and showed Schilling ahead, we were subject to a cascade of skepticism. We stuck by our guns, and affable pizza restaurant owner Schilling stuck to the campaign trail to pull out a surprise victory. This time his opponent is former journalist and city council member Cheri Bustos, the daughter of a powerful Illinois Democrat and family friend of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. The right-leaning Chicago Tribune has endorsed Schilling and tsk-tsked Bustos for her less-than-forthcoming opinions on key issues. Still, the new 17th District heavily sways Democratic and by all accounts Bustos is a worker. Here are our results from this week’s poll there:

Poll type: Automated Date: October 9, 2012 - Participants: 1,183 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.9%
Cheri Bustos (D)Bobby Schilling (R)Undecided
46.14%45.81%8.05%

Illinois 13 (East Central)

IL-13 invokes lyrics from the Grateful Dead: What a long strange trip it’s been. Long-time GOP incumbent and human Q-Tip Tim Johnson was all set to defend his seat against physician David Gill who had won the silver medal in three previous attempts to unseat him. Then Johnson abruptly decided to call it quits. An eclectic groups of wannabe candidates quickly emerged, including a former Miss America who is best known for her crusade against pre-marital sex…not a well-received message among the 30,000+ randy college  students residing in the district. The ultimate choice was Rodney Davis, a respected congressional aide to John Shimkus. While Davis is well know in political circles, his name ID wasn’t great and he found himself starting from Square One this summer. Both Davis and Gill are hard workers in this district that runs the gamut from extreme right to extreme left. On average, it’s leans a bit Democratic, and Independent John Hartman is also on the ticket. Here are our results from this week’s poll there:

Poll type: Automated Date: October 7-9, 2012 - Participants: 1,253 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
David Gill (D)Rodney Davis (R)John Hartman (I)Undecided
41.81%43.92%5.55%8.72%

Illinois 12 (Southern Illinois)

The retirement of long-time congressman Jerry Costello (D) threw the doors wide open for this Democratic-leaning but conservative district. Like IL-13, the 12th District traveled down a bumpy road in deciding it’s final pairing: Democrat Bill Enyart and Republican Jason Plummer. Plummer, an executive in a well-known family-owned lumber business, surprised the state as a newcomer in 2010 by beating better known challengers in the GOP’s Lt. Governor race. Plummer and his running mate lost the general election but the 30-year old retained his desire to run for office. Enyart is a former State Adjutant General who came to the party late when the Democratic Primary winner pulled out (he was trailing Plummer and had some baggage). President Obama isn’t very popular in the bucolic southern portion of the state. A Green Party candidate, Paula Bradshaw, is also on the ticket.

Here are our results from this week’s poll there:

Poll type: Automated Date: October 10, 2012 - Participants: 1,247 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
Bill Enyart (D)Jason Plummer (R)Paula Bradshaw (G)Undecided
41.78%43.86%3.36%11.00%

Illinois 11 (Western Collars)

This district pits a Republican incumbent–Judy Biggert–against former 14th District Democratic Congressman Bill Foster. Foster is a physicist who surprised many when he won the seat of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert in a 2008 special election. His votes in Congress didn’t quite track with the more conservative area of the district and he was defeated in 2010 by Republican Randy Hultgren. Biggert is a socially moderate Republican from Hinsdale with a reputation as a fiscal conservative with an independent streak. Neither candidate is well known in this newly configured evenly split district. The lead in polls here have teetered back and forth and so far, no one can seem to keep a lead. Here are our results from this week’s poll there:

Poll type: Automated Date: October 10, 2012 - Participants: 1,253 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
Bill Foster (D)Judy Biggert (R)Undecided
44.32%46.05%9.63%

Illinois 10 (Northern Collars)

The 10th District in Illinois is known for disregarding political party labels but essentially leaning left. Yet, Republican congressional candidates have done well in this area for decades no matter which presidential candidate won. Barack Obama won big here in 2008, as did former Congressman (and now U.S. Senator) Mark Kirk (R). Republican Bob Dold won in 2010 and has kept the district’s tradition for independent thought. He has focused on job-creation issues and been a successful fundraiser. His opponent is Democrat Brad Schneider, a business consultant and political newcomer who survived a hard fought primary in the spring. President Obama is doing very well here, but for now Dold his holding a narrow lead:

Poll type: Automated Date: October 9, 2012 - Participants: 1,172 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3%
Brad Schneider (D)Bob Dold (R)Undecided
45.42%47.29%7.29%

Illinois 8 (North Central Collars) 

Two years ago, We Ask America was the only pollster we know of that predicted little-known Republican Tea Party advocate, Joe Walsh, would win his race against Democrat incumbent Melissa Bean. Walsh won that contest in a squeaker and now faces Democrat Tammy Duckworth. Duckworth is a disabled Iraqi war veteran who lost her legs in a helicopter accident. She lost a close 2006 bid for Congress in another district, but IL-8 leans slightly left and most pundits felt she was a shoo-in against the brash Walsh. Walsh has been a magnet for the wrong kind of press, but his Howard Beale-ish “mad as Hell” attitude attracts more local support than many recognize, and this race has become a real zinger that can now go either way. For a great overview of this race, click HERE. Here are our latest results from October 10:

Poll type: Automated Date: October 7-9, 2012 - Participants: 1,158 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.9%
Tammy Duckworth (D)Joe Walsh (R)Undecided
45.18%47.89%6.93%
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