A steep climb

The ballyhooed union crossover vote in Illinois’ Republican Primary is going to find a steep climb in tomorrow’s Primary Election according to our latest tracking poll. Last night, we ran our usual automated tracker where we asked likely Republican voters to verify their intention to vote in the Primary following by their choice for governor. Here are those results:

Poll type: Automated - Date: 3/16/2014 - Participants: 1,126 Likely GOP Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3%
Bill Brady19.35%
Kirk Dillard27.36%
Bruce Rauner44.24%
Dan Rutherford9.04%

Frankly, no big surprise in these numbers. Bruce Rauner has been maintaining a sizable lead despite an onslaught of negative ads against him. Kirk Dillard’s numbers continue to improve, and the vaunted crossover vote looms. But let’s look at just how much of a challenge Dillard has to catch up.

The following chart shows results based on both 750,000 and 800,000 voters turnout models. It also shows how many crossover votes it would take to catch up.

DILLARD'S DILEMMA  
GOP turnout:750,000800,000
To catch Rauner:126,600135,040

That many votes represents a whole lotta love the unions have to generate for their crossover effort. Nothing of this scope has ever been accomplished in Illinois. Still, there may be enough crossover to move numbers tomorrow. But a few won’t be enough.

Dillard needs a stampede.

Over?

A report today that  some  Illinois unions had pulled their anti-Bruce Rauner ads from the airwaves because they had “accomplished their goal” caused a bit of stir among hardcore political types. The surprise move led many to speculate that the union brain trust now believes that Mr. Rauner’s numbers are sufficiently high that he cannot be beat in the Primary next week. Still, the Chicago Tribune recently published results from their second poll which led some to believe that Kirk Dillard still has a fighting chance. And Capitol Fax reported that Mr. Dillard has recently received $400,000 from teacher unions.

Is this still a ball game?

Since this is Tracking Tuesday at We Ask America, we decided to not only run our tracker but to also take away voters’ opportunity to say they’re undecided–a move we usually take when we’re within a week of the election.

So, after we asked participants to verify their registration and intent to vote in the Republican Primary, we asked this:

If the Republican Primary Election for governor were held today–and you HAD to choose a candidate–for whom would you vote?

Here are their responses:

Poll type: Automated - Date: 3/11/2014 - Participants: 1,235 Likely GOP Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.90%
 Bill BradyKirk DillardBruce RaunerDan Rutherford
ALL VOTERS18.90%25.76%46.46%8.88%
BY GENDER****************************
Female21.63%23.56%45.51%9.30%
Male15.33%28.63%47.71%8.33%

We’ll post some more crosstabs on this tomorrow morning.

Clearly, it would take an enormous shift in the political universe’s primordial ooze for anyone in the field to catch Bruce Rauner. The big chunk of cash unions spent against him on negative ads  may have had an effect on his long-term viability, but the Republican voting universe isn’t buying it.

We may take another look this race Sunday. But if we do, it will only be to see how close we can call it.

Slow down, Buckaroos

Our friend Rich Miller of Capitol Fax fame wrote today about the nature of some past elections to take unforeseen swerves in the road. Since a number of people have contacted us about that very subject, and about whether our latest poll for the Illinois GOP governor’s race is “projectable” (meaning, can those results mathematically be manipulated to project the final outcome) we decided to post this analysis. The need to jump to conclusions should be avoided here, and we feel compelled present the following.

Can poll results be projected? Maybe, but slow down, Buckaroos. As Capitol Fax pointed out, Illinois has a history of producing big shifts of opinion in its collective political thinking—and it can happen quickly.

First, take a look at the chart below that plots our 2010 GOP tracking polls and then read the detail below it. (You can click on the chart to enlarge it.)

 2010

Note that the dark red line representing undecided votes stops on January 27th, 2010. After that we started asked our participants to make a choice with an undecided option.

In 2010, the Primary Election was held on February 2.  Republican Kirk Dillard led the field going into the final week before the Primary. But Andy McKenna had been pounding Dillard and Jim Ryan with a huge TV buy of negative ads for weeks and Dillard’s progress slowed. Finally, after untold negative ads slapping the Hinsdale State Senator around, Dillard finally dipped in the polls, as did Ryan.

At the same time, Bill Brady was largely ignored by the hoi polloi. His downstate ads were modest in rating points, but spoke directly to a Republican base that was clearly peering across the horizon to look for an answer. In racing terms, circumstances put Brady in an ideal position to “draft” behind the frontrunners until the final lap.

From Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, the dynamic changed dramatically. Brady caught Dillard at the end line with a photo finish. Our Election Eve poll captured that and we duly reported our results to an incredulous audience. The next day they were believers.

Can someone make those kinds of gains again? You bet they can, and—ironically—it may be Dillard who is best positioned to do so this time around. But the dynamic is very different now. Both Dillard and Brady are getting pounded on social media, online ads, radio and TV courtesy of Mr. Rauner. The fourth candidate—State Treasurer Dan Rutherford—is trailing at a distance. A hypothetical ten-point jump in the polls by Dillard simply wouldn’t get him close enough unless it was accompanied by a free fall by Rauner.

Unions

No one here is sloughing off union claims that they’re asking their members to pull Republican ballots and vote for Dillard. They may even have a fair amount of success with that program. The problem is the steep angle of the hill they’re trying to climb.

After we encouraged you to not project poll findings, we’re going to do just that. But we think you’ll understand why we’re ignoring our suggestion when you see the following.

Below is a chart showing what the final outcome of the Illinois GOP Primary race for governor would be based on our latest tracking poll. If you assume a modest 750,000 Republican voter turnout, the chart shows you how many votes those percentages would translate into for each candidate in the Primary. Finally, we show you how many votes it would take to catch Bruce Rauner.

Here’s the chart:

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.40.46 PM

So if nothing else changes, unions would have to find more than a quarter million voters who are willing to 1) pull a Republican ballot; and 2) vote for Kirk Dillard. Partisan voters often find it very difficult to pull an enemy ballot. Finding 250,000+ people to do so is a Herculean task.

Of course, monitoring that situation is relatively easy, and you can bet the We Ask America gnomes will keep their beady eyes on that, especially in Cook County.

With the dynamics involved, predicting the precise outcome of the Illinois GOP Primary for governor is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle in a hurricane.

But for now, Mr. Rauner’s likeness is still on the box.

 

The Walking Dread

Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is a survivor. He has had his political obituary written a number of times in his career only to avoid the zombie apocalypse through incredible tenacity, hard work and a bit of luck. But Pat Quinn will face more than just a Republican opponent in the fall election; he has some Democratic family matters to confront. His role in pushing for public pension reforms was not exactly warmly received by state employees and retirees, and his continuous gadfly approach to governing takes its toll. But surely he can count on the full backing of his fellow Democrats when it’s crunch time, right?

Well, maybe. To see how welcome Gov. Quinn will be at the next family picnic, we asked 1,162 likely Democratic voters two questions. Here’s the first:

In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is doing?

Here are the results to that question:

Poll type: Automated - Date: 3/4-5/2014 - Participants: 1,262 Likely Dem. Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.90%
Approve56.76%
Disapprove31.42%
Neutral11.83%

OK…nothing too surprising above. Not great, but OK. Then, we asked them this:

Do you agree, or disagree with the following statement? “I will probably vote to re-elect Pat Quinn as governor no matter who is running against him in the fall.”

Here are those results:

Agree49.63%
Disagree34.25%
Undecided16.11%

Whoa…a third of likely Democratic voters disagreed with a fairly mildly written re-elect question, and another 16% aren’t so sure. The crosstab below showing those responses to the re-elect question by LOCATION tells the story:

LocationAgreeDisagreeUndecided
Chicago53.34%26.26%20.40%
Suburban Cook57.91%29.86%12.23%
Collars51.57%34.35%14.08%
Downstate37.74%47.63%14.63%

 

Now, political families fight, but when push comes to shove they tend to stick together. Still, having a third of likely Democratic voters say they’re not sure they’ll vote for an incumbent governor is a swift kick in the patootie.

Will those miffed voters come back home in the fall? Probably. But depending on how deep voters’ walking dread goes, some may not vote at all and a handful may vote against Gov. Quinn because they’ve had it with his schtick. Still, it’s likely Quinn will face Bruce Rauner whose attacks on union bosses will make Quinn the lesser of two evils for some.

But Mr. Quinn may want to tend to a bit of family housekeeping sooner than later.

IL GOP Gov Tracker

Tonight we once again release our weekly tracking poll results for the Illinois GOP Primary for governor just 14 days before Election Day. We know these results must be anxiously awaited since just a few minutes after we tweeted that we’re going to publish our findings tonight we received our first complaint arguing about the results…four hours before we asked anyone a question.

At any rate, tonight 1,262 Illinois voters who confirmed their intention to vote in the GOP Primary this simple question: If the Republican Primary Election for governor were held today, for whom would you vote?

Here are their responses:

Poll type: Automated - Date: 3/4/2014 - Participants: 1,262 Likely GOP Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.85%
 Bill BradyKirk DillardBruce RaunerDan RutherfordUndecided
ALL11.65%14.45%39.88%8.20%25.82%
BY GENDER***********************************
Women11.89%14.27%34.26%7.99%31.60%
Men11.39%14.65%46.07%8.42%19.48%
BY AGE***********************************
18-2411.93%5.03%27.63%14.94%40.47%
25-3411.93%17.26%52.08%5.29%9.45%
35-4419.19%25.21%23.42%8.96%23.22%
45-5410.89%12.80%36.43%5.71%34.17%
55-649.75%11.49%47.18%8.70%22.88%
65+10.88%15.12%39.59%8.59%25.81%
BY LOCATION***********************************
Chicago22.31%6.23%33.24%3.51%34.70%
Sub. Cook11.67%18.57%41.14%3.23%25.39%
Collars11.17%12.91%49.56%1.76%24.59%
Downstate11.21%14.60%34.25%13.84%26.10%

Click on graph below to enlarge:

Untitled

 

As the results show, Bruce Rauner continues to dominate the others by a wide margin. With only two weeks to go, it will be extraordinarily difficult for any contender to close the gap. Absent a Richter-scale scandal or some kind of proof of certain unions’ claim that they can talk their members into pulling GOP ballots for Dillard  (more on that tomorrow), Mr. Rauner’s lead should hold.

We believe that the Fat Lady is clearing her voice.