Biss makes a move

A new We Ask America poll shows Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Daniel Biss climbing into second place past Chris Kennedy in a crowded field of governor hopefuls. At the same time, frontrunner J.B. Pritzker’s lead has diminished to a level where this may soon turn into a much more interesting race.

Here are the latest results from our poll conducted Jan. 29-30, 2018 (811 responses; Margin of Error ±3.44%:

Biss’ improvement puts him within striking distance in the Democrat-rich environments of Chicago and Suburban Cook. He falters elsewhere–especially downstate:

Kennedy’s inherent name recognition is keeping him in the game, but Biss’ rise seems to put the State Senator from Evanston into a solid second position. Pritkzer’s superior resources still make him the favorite, but the race is tightening up and may prove to ultimately be closer than once believed.

Click HERE to download the poll.

Not persuaded

With a reported multi-million dollar ad campaign  by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg  designed to justify the Cook County sweetened beverage tax, surely a swing in public opinion must be the outcome…right?

Not so much. This weekend, We Ask America Polls™ essentially re-ran an early August poll where the main question was:

“As you may know, a new tax has taken effect in Cook County that places a one-cent-per ounce- tax on most sweetened beverages. We’d like to know if you APPROVE, or DISAPPROVE of the new Cook County beverage tax that places a new tax on most sweetened beverages.”

The poll also asked voters’ opinions on the main motive for the tax increase (health vs. increased spending) and their opinions on re-electing officials who voted for the new tax.



1. Despite millions of dollars in TV ads justifying the beverage tax hitting the Chicago DMA, our Approve/Disapprove outcome was a virtual tie with the findings of the initial poll. In early August, we reported 86.64% of voters opposed the tax. On October 7, those opposed equaled 85.76%—well within the margin of error of the first poll.

2. Also within the previous poll’s margin of error were the percentage of voters who didn’t buy that commissioners who passed the beverage tax did so for health reasons. In early August, 80.33% believed that commissioners primarily passed the beverage tax to raise funds—not for health reasons. Two months later, 76.98% said the same—a movement of only three percentage points. It’s difficult to say that such a small drop—one basically within the margin of error—shows any statistically change. That is true especially in light of the continuing opposition to the tax.

3. Voters are still steaming about the passage of the tax, and may take it out at the ballot box if reasonable alternative candidates challenge those who originally voted for the tax. Nearly 79% of voters say they will be less likely to vote for a Cook County Commissioner who supported the beverage tax. That number—which is near the margin of error of the original poll—remains extraordinarily strong and the intensity hasn’t changed significantly. Even if the tax is repealed, the anger over its passage may hang over the next election.


DATEBev. Tax DisapprovalThink tax was passsed for $Less likely-elect pro-tax commissioner


Poll details:
Type: Hybrid; automated to landline phones, live operator interviews to cell phones.
Responses: 1,050 registered Voters
Margin of Error: 3.02%
Poll dates: Oct. 7, 2017

Who’s winning the Beverage Tax fight?

Both proponents and opponents of the Cook County beverage tax have been extremely vocal over the past few weeks. Those in favor of the tax—especially billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—have been flooding the airways with ads warning of the dangers of sweetened beverages. Opponents—including strongly worded newspaper editorials—have been pointing out the negative economic effects of the tax on consumers and businesses alike.

Who’s winning?

We Ask America decided to find an answer based on two straight-forward questions asked to more than 1,000 likely voters:

  1. As you may know, the Cook County Board will have the opportunity in October to REPEAL the beverage tax. Do you think the County Board should KEEP, or REPEAL the Cook County beverage tax?

  2. If your county commissioner voted to KEEP the beverage tax, would you be MORE LIKELY, or LESS LIKELY to support his or her re-election? “

Click HERE to download the poll results.


  1. Despite millions of dollars in ads justifying the beverage, Cook County voters continue to overwhelmingly favor a repeal of it. While there is no reason to say that people disagree with the health warnings being issued in the ads, it is safe to assume that voters are not persuaded that the tax is a good thing. Similar to earlier polls before the onslaught of ads, people want the beverage tax to go away. Period.

  2. This could be THE issue in next year’s County Board Election. The continued strength of disdain over the tax in the wake of an incredible wave of anti-beverage ads is an indication of deeply rooted positions. Is the Beverage Tax the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back? Perhaps. Voters who got walloped by recent property tax hikes were probably itching to act out, and the Commissioners who used the health argument to vote for it whiffed in their explanation. The beverage tax provides an easy target for organized opponents who will be hurling five-second sound bites that require five-minute responses—never a good thing in politics. Pro-tax commissioners are walking on extremely thin ice that can crack if a quality opponent steps onto the same pond.

  3. If the beverage tax influences higher turnout in the next Primary, pro-tax commissioners will suffer. There is a sizable swing on the re-elect question between one-of-three and three-of-three Democratic voters. Any increase in turnout will be a sizable drag for commissioners who voted for the beverage tax.


Poll details:

Type: Hybrid; automated to landline phones, live operator interviews to cell phones.
Responses: 1,056 registered Voters
Margin of Error: 3.02%
Poll dates: Sept. 19, 2017


Poll: Health-related ad viewers are MORE likely to oppose the beverage tax

Proponents of the recently enacted Cook County beverage tax have been conducting a local advertising campaign featuring health-related themes. Reportedly, up to $5 million has been committed to the health-related TV ads alone.

We were curious of how affective those ads have been thus far. To determine that, three questions were asked:

  • We’d like to know if you have seen the ads in Cook County that seek to educate people about health issues related to consumption of sugary beverages like juice and soda?
  • Do you feel that Cook County commissioners who voted in favor of the new beverage tax did so primarily because of those kind of health concerns, or some other reason?
  • Do you AGREE or DISAGREE with this statement: “No matter what the reason for passing the beverage tax, I would like to see repealed.”

Findings (1,092 responses):

  • The ads warning people about the risks of consuming sugary beverages have either been widely seen and/or widely reported. A phenomenal 83.7 percent of the people taking the poll were aware of the health-related ads.
  • Few people believe that the Beverage Tax was passed to address those health concerns. Voters remain skeptical that the Cook County Board members who voted for the Beverage Tax did so because of health concerns. A substantial 87.53 percent of those asked chose the generic “other reasons” as the root cause for the vote.
  • The percentage of those who want the Beverage Tax repealed is within the margin of error for previous polls that did not bring up health concerns. A poll that was conducted before the health-related ads commenced (Aug. 6) resulted in 86.64 percent favoring repeal – less than two percentage points higher than this post-health ads survey.
  • People who have seen the health-related ads are more likely to support repeal. While there is no correlation present in this poll suggesting that the ads have had a reverse effect on voters’ attitudes, the difference between those who HAVE seen the ads and those who have NOT seen them is indisputable. (download poll to see results).

Click HERE to download poll results.

Notes & Comments

  • There continues to be no statistical difference between the City and suburban areas in any of these areas questioned.
  • Not a single poll participant in the youngest voting category (18-24) believes County Commissioners who voted for the tax did so to combat the health problems associated with sugar consumption.

Poll details:

Type: Hybrid; automated to landline phones, live operator interviews to cell phones.
Responses: 1,092 Registered Voters
Margin of Error: 3.06%
Poll date: Sept. 7-8, 2017

Preckwinkle’s Problems

Last week’s Illinois Manufacturers’ Association poll on the Cook County beverage tax indicated high discontent with the one-cent-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax. Does that resentment translate to political problems for the chief advocate for the tax, Board President Toni Preckwinkle?

From August 15 through August 16, 2017, We Ask America Polls™ conducted a hybrid (part automated/part live interview) telephone poll measuring Cook County likely voters’ snapshot opinions on the Cook County Board President. Three questions were asked in a particular order:

“In general, do you APPROVE, or DISAPPROVE of the job Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle is doing?”

“Do you AGREE, or DISAGREE with the following statement: ‘I will probably vote to re-elect Toni Preckwinkle as County Board President no matter who is running against her.’”

“Does that fact that Toni Preckwinkle cast the deciding vote that created the Cook County beverage tax make you MORE LIKELY or LESS LIKELY to vote to re-elect her?”

Note: Question 3–pointing out that Preckwinkle cast the deciding vote in the beverage tax–was purposely put at the end of the three questions to avoid any negative effect on the  other questions. The matter was addressed in a negative form similar to how potential opponents to Ms Preckwinkle will likely view the issue.



  1. Toni Preckwinkle suffers a significantly lower job-approval rating than Donald Trump: Having only 21 percent of likely voters approving of her general performance is likely to generate serious competition for her next year in her bid for re-election.
  2. Her re-elect numbers are extraordinarily low: The re-elect question referred to the phrase “no matter who runs against her” to provide a clear-cut option. Wording it in that manner helps to determine the strength of Preckwinkle’s core support—those who will vote for her no matter what. Normal re-elect results for incumbents when this type of option is offered is in the high-30s or low-40s percentile. Preckwinkle’s 16 percent is surely going to encourage potential opponents to look closer at a possible run.
  3. Casting the deciding vote on the beverage tax may be Toni Preckwinkle’s Kryptonite. Already weakened by the issue, casting the deciding, tie-breaking vote will be an issue that potential opponents will hammer on repeatedly to great effect. The 10 percent result may mean that even if Preckwinkle leads a repeal effort, she remains very vulnerable for her initial action.

Notes & Comments

  • There was virtually no difference between the City and suburban areas in the overall approve/disapprove results.
  • Although not a traditionally huge demographic in county elections, nearly 91% of younger likely voters chose the negative option in the re-elect question. Overall, Hispanic voters had the highest negative answer (83%) on the re-elect question. Adding the “deciding vote” fact pushed the “Less Likely to Re-elect” to 98 percent among Hispanics.
  • Men gave a significantly lower approval of Ms Preckwinkle than women (14% vs 25%).

Poll details:

Type: Hybrid; automated to landline phones, live operator interviews to cell phones.
Responses: 902 Likely Voters
Margin of Error: 3.27%
Poll dates: Aug. 15-16, 2017


Cook County Beverage Tax Poll

From August 3 through August 6, 2017, We Ask America Polls™ conducted a hybrid (part automated/part live interview) telephone poll measuring Cook County likely voters’ views on the recently implemented beverage tax on sweetened products. The primary question was this:

“As you may know, a new tax has taken effect in Cook County that places a one-cent-per ounce- tax on most sweetened beverages. We’d like to know if you APPROVE, or DISAPPROVE of the new Cook County beverage tax that places a new tax on most sweetened beverages.”

The poll also asked voters’ opinions on the main motive for the tax increase (health vs. increased spending) and their opinions on re-electing officials who voted for the new tax. Click HERE to download the results.


  1. The new beverage tax received the highest disapproval percentage of any similar tax we’ve ever polled: Nearly 87 percent disapproved of the tax, 12 percent approved of it and only one percent had no opinion.
  2. Very few believe the “health” argument for passing the tax: Only 8 percent believe that the tax was implemented to improve the health and well-being of Cook Co. residents.
  3. Commissioners who voted for the tax will have a tougher time convincing voters to re-elect them next year. Across all demographics, pro-beverage tax commissioners face potential problems if challengers use this issue against them in next fall’s elections. While nearly 10 percent of voters said they would be MORE likely to vote for a pro-beverage tax commissioner, close to 83 percent stated they would be LESS likely to re-elect a county commissioner who supported the measure. Potential political challengers will certainly use this issue that scores points on Election Day.

Notes & Comments

  • While it may be argued that this poll was taken soon after consumers first experienced so-called Sticker Shock from the new beverage tax and therefore doesn’t necessary reflect how they’ll feel about it next year, the extraordinarily high rate of disapproval (nearly 87 percent) indicates that this tax is not going to be merely shrugged off in the long run. Very high response percentages often are linked to a combination of intellectual and emotional factors—and that combination can affect elections.
  • The Ethnic Origin Demographic breakouts indicate that the tax is LEAST popular among African American and Hispanic voters. The group with the highest approval rate for the tax are Asians (17 percent).
  • There are statistically no differences between City and Suburban Cook residents in the approve/disapprove answers, and little difference in the other questions.

Poll details:

Type: Hybrid; automated to landline phones, live operator interviews to cell phones.
Responses: 1,119 Likely Voters
Margin of Error: 3.0%
Poll dates: Aug. 3-6, 2017

Click HERE to download the results.

IL Congressional

We Ask America Polls™ did a round of internal polls in targeted Illinois congressional races last night. This morning, it was decided to make them public since no group, campaign or individual requested or paid for them. For now, we’ll show you the toplines with brief comments. Check back later and we’ll offer you some crosstabs.

Here we go:

Illinois 10:

Brad Schneider (D)45.09%
Bob Dold (R)47.16%

Our numbers in the hotly contested 10th District race illustrate why it’s considered one of the nation’s most competitive.  This week’s report of a large TV buy for Dold from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg could tip the scales, but this one should still be considered a toss-up.

Illinois 11:

Bill Foster (D)51.64%
Darlene Senger (R)40.32%

Incumbent Bill Foster has taken a decided double-digit lead on Darlene Senger  in the redrawn 11th District. Foster’s background as a scientist and wealthy entrepreneur has made it difficult for Republicans to peg him as anti-business.  Unless the GOP can prove he’s the one responsible for all of Jay Cutler’s interceptions, Foster should be safe on Election Day.

Illinois 12:

Bill Enyart (D)41.83%
Mike Bost (R)43.50%
Paula Bradshaw (G)5.79%

Along with IL-10, the 12th District falls within the margin of error and is really anyone’s race.  State Rep. Mike Bost holds a slight lead in this Democratic leaning district, despite efforts from the left to portray him as a loose-cannon.

Illinois 13: 

Rodney Davis (R)52.83%
Ann Callis (D)35.63%

In what was once thought to be a swing district under the new map, House freshman Rodney Davis appears in good shape to hold on to his slightly Democratic central Illinois District.  Davis’ lead may inch towards single digits on November 4th with a big Dem GOTV effort, but he should be safe.

Illinois 17:

Cheri Bustos (D)54.98%
Bobby Schilling (R)38.94%

In a rematch from 2012, many have felt from the beginning that incumbent Cheri Bustos would be tough to beat. Barring anything unforeseen, Bobby Schilling will continue wishing it was 2010.


[box type=”info”] We continue our polls in Midwestern states today with our home base—Illinois—and races in Michigan. [/box]

Illinois: Everything old is new again

Governor Pat Quinn has made a career out of proving those who dismiss his chances in political races wrong. Earlier this year, most pundits outside of Illinois had Quinn high on their likely-to-be-dumped lists. The reasons were logical: the Illinosi lags behind other Midwestern neighbors in economic recovery, has the highest pension debt in the nation and continues to lose jobs to greener economic pastures. Enter Republican Bruce Rauner, a highly successful investment professional with deep pockets and an in-your-face promise to “shake up Springfield.” Conventional wisdom dictated that Quinn was in serious trouble.

But Rauner had a much tougher Primary than expected thanks partially to a successful campaign by teachers unions to encourage crossover votes, and Quinn has since seemed to hit his stride earlier than usual in the race. Many assumed that Rauner would launch a shock-and-awe level attack that would bury Quinn, but his campaign seems has yet to overwhelm observers or voters. And Rauner’s purposeful penchant for avoiding details has left more questions than answers.

Rauner had a 10-12 point lead a few weeks ago. With Quinn hitting his stride and Rauner stumbling a bit, what do the voters think? We asked more than 1,400 likely voters on September 18-19 the following question:

If the election for Governor were held today, would you vote for Democrat Pat Quinn, Republican Bruce Rauner or Libertarian Chad Grimm?

Poll type: Automated - Date: 9/18-19/2014 - Participants: 1,418 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3%
 Pat QuinnBruce RaunerChad GrimmUndecided
ALL VOTERS41%44%6%9%

After holding a double-digit lead a few weeks ago, the gap narrows…just as it did four years ago when Republican State Senator Bill Brady led Quinn by 10 points a month out from the election only to lose a relatively close race.  Despite running a state that’s home to massive debt, terribly low job creation rates, and a pension system that has almost single-handedly lead to a credit rating close to “non-investment grade”, Pat Quinn has pulled within the margin of error.

There is time left, and Bruce Rauner has the wherewithal to unleash the hounds with a wave of his checkbook, but the ticking of the clock is growing louder every day.

Michigan: Who goes first?

Who’s in more trouble, Brady Hoke or Governor Rick Snyder?  At least Governor Snyder didn’t lose to Notre Dame on national television…or get humiliated by a team nicknamed The Utes. As to which individual gets to keep his job in 2015, that one’s still TBD.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder has found himself in the middle of a re-election dogfight with Democratic former Congressman Mark Schauer.  Schauer, who’s also a former state lawmaker in Michigan, is a seasoned campaign veteran who casts himself as a pro-middle class candidate.

It should be noted that no first-term Michigan governor has lost a re-election bid in more than 100 years.  Snyder, who some say waited too late in the game to hit the airwaves with his pro-business campaign messaging, seems to be banking on the fact that Mr. Schauer will run out of funds before this thing is all said and done. But blood in the water usually leads to increased contributions, so that may be a false hope.

To this point, all we know is this one is close…real close:

Poll type: Automated - Date: 9/18-19/2014 - Participants: 1,182 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3%
 Rick SnyderMark SchauerMary BuzumaMark McFarlinPaul HomeniukUndecided
ALL VOTERS43%43%2%1%1%10%

Michigan Senate

In the same poll as above, we asked Michigan voters their views on the race for U.S. Senate. Senate forecasts small and large have given the GOP an edge heading into this November’s election. The mildly blue state of Michigan may just buck that trend. In the race for an open seat, Democratic candidate Congressman Gary Peters has held a consistent lead over Republican candidate Terri Lynn Land since April.  Despite being a GOP stalwart throughout most of the 20th century, Michigan has been reliably Democratic since 1992, and all things considered, it seems that trend will continue.

Here are the results:

Poll type: Automated - Date: 9/18-19/2014 - Participants: 1,182 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3%
 Terri Lynn LandGary PetersJim FulnerRichard MatkinChris WahmhoffUndecided
All Voters39%42%3%1%1%14%

3rd Time Around

We Ask America  jumps back into conducting public polls this week in a handful of Midwestern states…starting with one of our favorites: Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s political scene simply doesn’t follow conventional wisdom. The state’s electorate, which has earned a reputation of progressive and independent thought, have endured a somewhat tumultuous recent political past. Current Gov. Scott Walker (R) promised when he was first elected in 2010 to be a force to be reckoned with. That was an understatement. Supporters liked Walker’s take-no-prisoner approach to challenging public-sector unions, but his actions enflamed his detractors who came fairly close to recalling him in 2012. Walker prevailed, but continues to be a galvanizing national figure.

This time around, Walker faces Democrat Mary Burke, a former TREK bicycle executive and State Secretary of Commerce. Burke doesn’t provide the same type of easy contrast that Walker was able to use in the past against his opponents. The race has gotten increasingly nasty, with much of the clamor coming from outside political forces. Like all governors from both political parties, Walker ticks people off daily with decisions he must make as a sitting chief executive…although he seems to have mitigated his bull-in-the-china-shop ways. But Walker fell short on some lofty job-creation promises–perhaps due to factors out of his control–and he’s wearing the collar for that among other challenges he faces.

Burke isn’t getting by easy either. Since she has a record of public service, political pathologists have found plenty of things to talk about from her past stint as Commerce Secretary and she’s getting labeled as an outsourcer for sending jobs to China at TREK.

So, is Wisconsin prepared to elect Scott Walker for a third time in four years, or will Mary Burke be able to succeed where others have failed?

We asked 1,170 likely voters whether they preferred Republican Scott Walker, Democrat Mary Burke or a third-party candidate for Wisconsin governor. Here’s what they said:

Poll type: Automated - Date: 9/3/2014 - Participants: 1,170 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3%
All Voters44%48%2%6%
***BY PARTY***

With so much talk about the effect that President Obama had on the ballot in 2012, we followed up our head-to-head question asking whether they generally approve or disapprove of the job the President is doing. It could be an important factor for those of you in the election turnout pool. Here’s what they said:

All Voters44%48%8%
***BY PARTY***

With the volatility of the Wisconsin gubernatorial campaign sure to escalate, we’ll be back in a few weeks to see where matters stand.

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.

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.