Von Rauner Express

Here in Illinois there’s been a lot of conjecture the last few days about who is truly the best Republican candidate to challenge the Bruce Rauner Juggernaut. Rauner–a mega-succesful businessman with deep pockets and a campaign staff that, after a bit of a rocky start, seems to firing on all cylinders–has become the pin cushion for the trailing contenders. In addition, union leaders–a main recipient of many of Rauner’s sharp-tongued barbs–have pumped some serious money into an effort to either derail the Von Rauner Express or weaken him for the General Election this fall. Particularly biting is their ad painting an horrific picture of Rauner’s firm’s involvement in nursing home abuses. (Rauner has a good response ad addressing those accusations).

Naturally,  the other GOP gubernatorial candidates are hoping that the slings and arrows aimed at Mr. Rauner will finally derail his steady rise in the polls (see chart, below) and give their bare-cupboard campaigns a  boost. Since State Treasurer Dan Rutherfords hopes have withered on a scandal vine, the other two are elbowing each other to claim to be the top contender.

Last week, State Senator Kirk Dillard called on the election gods to smite Bloomington State Senator Bill Brady and Rutherford to allow him to have free rein against Rauner. While that demand left a lot of pundits scratching their itchy heads, it succeeded in getting Dillard some earned media–which may have been the plan all along. And Dillard has enjoyed a nice boost to his campaign from the endorsement of the powerful Illinois Education Association.

Now, Bill Brady’s minions have been sidling up to reporters and others promising poll results that prove Brady is everyone’s second choice.  If you fail to see the logic of bragging about being the Chosen One…er…Two, then join the club. There’s no Silver Medal in politics.

Still, both Dillard and Brady are counting on an alleged any-minute-now free fall by Rauner. So, tonight we asked 1,178  likely Illinois Republicans this simple  question:

If the Republican Primary Election were held today, for whom would you vote? Here are the results:

Poll type: Automated - Date: 2/25/2014 - Participants: 1,178 Likely GOP Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3%
 Bill BradyKirk DillardBruce RaunerDan RutherfordUndecided
ALL12.80%17.25%35.60%7.48%26.88%
BY GENDER***********************************
Women14.25%14.78%29.43%8.24%33.30%
Men11.31%19.77%41.88%6.70%20.33%
BY AGE***********************************
18-2421.49%5.00%27.54%17.68%28.29%
25-3420.98%19.05%38.75%15.49%5.73%
35-4411.97%22.79%29.07%10.34%25.83%
45-5410.18%15.32%32.54%7.45%34.50%
55-6414.17%15.48%36.99%8.06%25.30%
65+12.54%18.24%36.98%6.37%25.86%
BY LOCATION***********************************
Chicago15.10%10.47%36.32%7.79%30.32%
Sub. Cook9.78%16.55%45.47%1.74%26.45%
Collars9.14%15.39%42.89%5.04%27.55%
Downstate15.79%19.18%27.98%10.74%26.31%

And here’s our tracking graph starting last May:

GOP_gov_022514

Have millions of dollars in negative ads taken a bite out of Rauner? Yeah, but not much (see chart). And Rauner’s bank account remains healthy and open. There isn’t a whole lot of daylight for the others to grab.

Still, lots can happen in Illinois politics…and often does.

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