End in Sight
We begin our home stretch with a series of polls conducted in the six targeted congressional districts in Illinois. As we previously reported, redistricting in the Land of Lincoln was totally controlled by Democrats. Last night, we conducted our final public polls in those six districts where we find some remarkably competitive races despite President Obama’s lead.
Illinois 8 – Democrat Tammy Duckworth vs. Republican incumbent Joe Walsh
As we’ve profiled before, this race pits Duckworth, a disabled Iraqi war veteran, against Tea Party favorite Joe Walsh. While Duckworth hasn’t proven to be a great candidate, she has a distinct advantage in this re-drawn district by running against a guy who seems to enjoy being a lightning rod for controversy. Walsh surprised many by keeping this race competitive as long as he did, but Duckworth’s campaign has taken advantage of Walsh’s without-exception pro-life views while whacking him for not paying child support. That one-two punch seems to have pushed Walsh over the edge where he now may be in a free fall:Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,010 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.1%
Whether it gets worse for Mr. Walsh before Election Day is anyone’s guess, but Tammy Duckworth now appears to be in line for a win on November 6.
Illinois 10 – Democrat Brad Schneider vs. Republican incumbent Bob Dold
This affluent congressional district has always been one to ignore Party labels. Challenger Schneider’s campaign never seemed to understand that and is trying to portray pro-choice Bob Dold as a right-wing nut to a very well-informed electorate. While missing that target, Schneider has also stumbled a bit about the reality of his business experience. Questions about his resumé are being tied into his refusal to release his income tax records. Still, this district is strongly pro-Obama enough that Dold finds it hard to pull away outside of the margin of error:Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,257 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
The core of the new IL-10 helped elect Barack Obama in 2008 but also gave the nod to Republican Congressman (now U.S. Senator) Mark Kirk), so the edging ahead by Dold seems to fit the profile. Plus, among the most likely voters (those who voted in 2008 & 2010), Dold enjoys a ten-point lead.
Illinois 11 – Democrat Bill Foster vs. Republican incumbent Judy Biggert
The new 11th District leans slightly Democratic and is not a great fit for either candidate here. Foster was a one-term congressman who was defeated in 2010, while Biggert has has a long career in both the Illinois General Assembly and Congress. Neither are particularly strong campaigners, but each have lots of campaign and outside money flowing. Foster’s vote for Obamacare has not been universally accepted in this area, and Biggert’s long career made it easy for her opponent to cherry pick past votes that could be splashed in direct mail and on TV. Like other area Democrats, Foster’s campaign has tried to paint pro-choice Biggert as an extremist. Unlike IL-10, though, much of the 11th District is new to both candidates. Here are last night’s results including the GENDER breakouts because that what seems to be a driving force here:Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,303 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.7%
Judy Biggert (R)
Bill Foster (D)
This race has swung back and forth in the polls for the past few months. Two weeks ago we may have guessed that Foster was poised for a breakout, but Biggert has fought back and this one is now a real horse race.
Illinois 12 – Republican Jason Plummer vs Democrat Bill Enyart vs Green Party’s Paula Bradshaw
Illinois 12 encompasses a large part of southwest Illinois and has elected conservative Democrats since the original lungfish crawled out of the ocean. Still, Barack Obama is not particularly popular here, and Republican candidate Jason Plummer hoped to be able to parlay his family’s well-know lumber business and 6-foot 8-inch frame into a winning effort. Many thought he was well on his way, but a series of post-primary moves by the Democrats have put Plummer on an uphill climb against his main competitor, former Adjutant General Bill Enyart.Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,313 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.7%
Bill Enyart (D)
Jason Plummer (R)
Paula Bradshaw (G)
[NOTE: A reader caught that we had transposed the Plummer/Enyart Independent numbers in our original post. It has been corrected and the following narrative remains correct. We apologize for the error.] While Plummer has a 20 point lead among Independents, the 37/27 advantage Democrats have in IL-12 coupled with Enyart’s better numbers among his own party melt that Independent advantage away. We’re not ready to say Enyart is breaking out from the pack, though. Examining the results from only those who voted in 2008 and 2010 (the most likely) gives Enyart a razor-thin lead that could be evaporated based on turnout. But this is a very tough district for any Republican.
Illinois 13 – Republican Rodney Davis vs Democrat David Gill vs Independent John Hartman
While IL-13 leans slightly Democratic, the core of this newly configured district has chosen the opponent of Democrat David Gill in the last three congressional elections. It’s difficult to overcome that record, and Gill’s platform may prove to be a bit further to the left than the downstate area can accept. Republican Rodney Davis came into the race late and had to claw and scratch his way into the name recognition game, but it appears to be working. He recently received the endorsements of three top area newspapers which didn’t hurt matters.Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,360 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.7%
David Gill (D)
Rodney Davis (R)
John Hartman (I)
Independent John Hartman continues to earn some respect, but Davis may be a more comfortable fit in an area that tends to be moderately conservative.
Illinois 17 – Republican incumbent Bobby Schilling vs. Democrat Cheri Bustos
We consider this one a dead heat. Schilling and Bustos change leads every other poll (we’ve done several there in the past 14 days, the last one had Bustos up by nearly 3 points) and it’s averages out as a simple 50-50 split. While heavily Democratic, this area has a blue-collar and somewhat conservative lean to it. Incumbent Congressman Schilling fills the “one-of-us” role well as a pizza restaurant owner who is both unpretentious and affable. But Schilling leans farther to the right than the district as a whole. Still, he’s found a strident-free way of communicating with constituents. Bustos, who was previously a news reporter and East Moline alderwoman, came to the race as a camera-ready fresh face with a solid political pedigree that hasn’t disappointed although her stance on issues remains a tad nebulous. Both work hard and both leave favorable impressions.Poll type: Automated Date: October 28, 2012 - Participants: 1,325 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
Bobby Schilling (R)
Cheri Bustos (D)
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this one should come into election day as a pick ‘em race.