Just as the weather in the Land of Lincoln turned unseasonably cold, the Illinois Republican Primary for governor has heated up, thanks largely to the apparent breakout of one candidate: political newcomer Bruce Rauner. Rauner–a highly successful investment executive–has parlayed his own deep pockets and ability to raise contributions from others into an ever-growing war chest.
Although Illinois has regulations about how much can be raised and spent in a political campaign, the law allows a candidate with means to break through the spending cap. The only penalty is that ALL candidates are then allowed to spend beyond the so-called limits. Since Rauner is the the only Republican candidate who has demonstrated the ability to both self fund and raise big bucks from others, political reporters and pundits have been playing a guessing game of When Would Bruce Break The Cap? He did so about two weeks ago with a sizable statewide TV buy. Before that buy, Rauner had spent a fair amount of money moving his name ID from nil to meh. Still the others–State Senator Bill Brady (Bloomington), State Senator Kirk Dillard (Hinsdale) and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford (Pontiac)–haven’t been able to generate campaign funds sufficient to mount their own media campaigns and have instead had to rely on earned media and their high-quality resumes. So, for the past few months, tracking polls showed results based more on name recognition that forethought of voting intentions.
So how would Rauner’s new spending spree affect voters? A recent independent poll by PPP published in Illinois’ preeminent political publication/blog Capitol Fax showed a surprising surge by Rauner, but had a smallish sample. So We Ask America decided to supersize that poll to see if Rauner could have really moved big numbers that quickly. He did:Poll type: Automated - Date: 11/26/2013 - Participants: 1,233 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
To put this into perspective, here’s a chart showing our tracking of this race since last May:
Any poll numbers that moves up that fast should, by all rights, be considered ethereal. Still, two separate independent polls now have shown the same thing: Rauner has moved serious numbers. And while both polls might only reflect an increase in name recognition, Bruce Rauner has the wherewithal to keep his foot on the gas well beyond this breakaway. Even if the numbers are in flux, it’s clear that GOP Primary voters are viewing Bruce Rauner as an acceptable messenger. Combine that with big bucks and you have a very tenuous situation for the challengers.
Mr. Rauner should be having a very happy Thanksgiving indeed.