Adventures in Blago-land

As all political junkies know by now, one lone juror has–so far–kept Rod Blagojevich from becoming the Pin-up Pol for those enjoying an expense-paid stay at the government’s finer gray-bar hotels. Even though the feds pledge to re-try him soon and he faces sentencing from a perjury conviction, those of us who reside in the Land of Lincoln will be facing yet another string of his impromptu babble-thons where he whines about how the people of Illinois were robbed of his heavy-hair goodness.

Sigh.

Now that I have that out of my system, I remind you that this Quick-Shot series of polls are designed to measure the mood of Independent voters. We polled three congressional races and the race for U.S. Senate in Illinois to find out.

It’s Bleepin’ Golden – Illinois U.S. Senate: Alexi Giannoulias (D) vs. Mark Kirk (R)

What a weird race this turned out to be. Alexi Giannoulias’ well-documented woes from his family-owned bank and Mark Kirk’s spiced-up military resumé have resulted in two wounded choices come November. (The Green Party’s LeAlan Jones is underfunded and has not found a way to break through the political clutter.)

Let’s see what voters are saying at this early point in the election season:

Illinois Senate

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 998 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.11%
SENATE CHOICETotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
(R) Mark Kirk39.19%12.32%74.48%37.65%
(D) Alexi Giannoulias32.68%64.43%4.20%22.84%
Other/Unsure28.13%23.25%21.33%39.51%

As you can see, Kirk is enjoying a big boost from Independent voters, and is getting more of his fair share (12+%) of Democrats. Like all Illinois statewide races, the turnout in Chicago and suburban Cook County will pay a huge role in the final outcome. Our internal numbers show that this is a bit closer than this poll indicates, and all here believe that it will tighten up sooner than later.

Third Time’s the Charm? Illinois CD 10: Dan Seals (D) vs. Robert Dold (R)

Illinois 10 has been in Republican hands since 1980 when John Porter was first elected.  However, CD 10’s current member of Congress, Mark Kirk, won some very close elections by skillfully reflecting this area’s vastly changed, more moderate demographic on many bills that weren’t exactly in the GOP mainstream. Kirk’s candidacy for the Senate could bode well for the Democrats. Republican nominee Robert Dold is the owner of a pest-control business (imagine the fun he could have with TV ads with that!), and looks the role of a former Eagle Scout and community leader. He won his primary over some very skilled and better-known challengers, but clearly presents a departure from Kirk’s more moderate views.

His opponent is Democrat Dan Seals, an accomplished businessman and son of a former member of the Chicago Bears who is running for the third time in this district. As we mentioned, this district has morphed into a much more moderate demographic over the past decade. Will that be enough to overcome Independents’ trend to the right come November?

Let’s look at the results:

Illinois CD 10

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,015 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.11%
 TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(R) Robert Dold40.02%10.03%82.72%36.66%
(D) Dan Seals43.24%78.51%8.09%35.19%
Other/Unsure16.74%11.46%9.19%28.15%

It’s still very early, but the nearly even split among Independent voters may make it hard for Republicans to maintain this seat. Dan Seals, who made his fair share of rookie mistakes in earlier races, now seems to firing on all cylinders. Dold, however, is a quick learner, so don’t expect a blowout here…and the trend is Dold’s friend. Plus, some believe that Seals’ best shot was 2008 when Barack Obama swept through his home state.

In the Blue-Dog House? Illinois CD 11: Incumbent Debbie Halvorson (R) vs Adam Kinzinger (R)

Illinois’ CD 11 elected Democrat Debbie Halvorson in the wake of the Obama tidal wave that hit his home state. Halvorson is no slouch as a politician, but in her first term has supported most of the social programs that may work well in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district, but riles CD 11’s somewhat conservative-leaning mix of blue and white-collar voters. Adam Kinzinger is a newcomer, and has made up for whatever lack of political experience he has with an incredible work ethic and a dream resume (strong military background and was named “Hero of the Year” by the Wisconsin Red Cross for wrestling a knife-wielding man to the ground and disarming him after the creep had cut the throat of a woman on a street in downtown Milwaukee).  Halvorson has tried to nitpick Kinzinger’s resume to no avail.

Here’s what voters are thinking at this point in time:

Illinois CD 11

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,015 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.07%
 TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(D) Debbie Halvorson31.72%70.03%5.90%21.74%
(R) Adam Kinzinger51.64%13.03%86.34%53.62%
Other/Unsure16.63%16.94%7.76%24.64%

Confirmation of trouble on Halvorson’s campaign came yesterday when it was announced that she had fired her campaign manager. It’s way too early to say this is over, but things are looking pretty good for young Mr. Kinzinger.

Denny’s Den – Illinois CD 14: Incumbent Bill Foster (D) vs. Randy Hultgren (R)

Illinois CD 14 was the long-time seat for former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert (R). When the seat was won by Democrat Bill Foster in a special election and in the General, many GOPsters  viewed it as a colossal rip in the universe. But in reality, Republicans put up a candidate with lots of baggage, and not enough credit was given to Foster who is a very bright man indeed. Foster was previously a research scientist for Fermilab where he dealt with quarks and particle accelerators–a huge contrast from his opponent who was a smart, but blunt businessman. Foster may be able to hum crossword puzzles, but some of his votes for big-government initiatives have provided fodder for his opponents in a district that has a moderately conservative core with growing pockets of progressives.

Randy Hultgren is a state senator who beat Hastert’s son, Ethan, in the primary despite having almost no money and being up against the former Speaker’s political juggernaut. The affable Hultgren again finds himself far behind in the money, but is reportedly working hard…as is his opponent.

Let’s see what the latest numbers show:

Illinois CD 14

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,028 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.05%
 TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(D) Bill Foster37.07%76.49%8.41%32.42%
(R) Randy Hultgren44.09%7.72%77.18%42.31%
Other/Unsure18.84%15.79%14.41%25.27%

Looking deeper into our internal numbers, we think it’s safe to say that this is  bit closer than the head-to-head numbers indicate. Should Hultgren prove that he’s hanging in there, money might flow faster. If not, Foster’s huge cash lead will be tough to overcome.

Havoc in the Heartland?

Over the past few weeks, several acquaintances have express the opinion that Missouri’s 3rd and 4th Congressional districts may just be the Ones to Watch in the polls (as a friend said…“the gateway to heaven or hell depending on which side you’re on and which way it goes…“). Both districts offer an intriguing set of circumstances in one of the most fascinating election years in memory.

Missouri CD 3: Incumbent Russ Carnahan (D) vs. Ed Martin (R)

Missouri 3 includes the southern part of the City of St. Louis and contains a mix of blue and white-collar voters. Dick Gephardt held this seat since the original lungfish crawled out of the ocean (well…for 20 years) and since 1994 its been in the hands of  Democrat Russ Carnahan. The Carnahan name is Big Stuff in the Show Me State  (click here to read a brief synopsis), and the Cook Political Report pegs this district as a D+7. Carnahan should also benefit from all the media time his sister, Robin Carnahan, will undoubtedly be buying in her bid to win Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat (click here for related post).

So with all that Democratic mojo, why are people still keeping an eye on this district? First of all, many view the population of MO-3 to be a prototype for the slide to the right we’re measuring throughout the nation from conservative Democrats and Independents. Plus, the Carnahan family has it’s detractors even among local Democrats, and some of those most ardent ones are rumored to have both hands on the rug upon which Russ Carnahan stands. And then there’s the Republican challenger, Ed Martin. The former Chief of Staff for Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt  would “bring a bike chain to a playground fight” as one friend explains it. Martin was also affiliated with the Missouri chapter of the Club for Growth and brings some deep pockets with him to the battle. He’s stumbled some  recently (the Post-Dispatch has skewered him for comments concerning President Obama and Cong. Carnahan “taking away that freedom, the freedom, the ultimate freedom, to find your salvation, to get your salvation, and to find Christ for me and you.” While that type of rhetoric probably won him some points with his backers, it makes it tougher for a big breakthrough in this D-leaning area.

Where do they each stand now? Here’s what we discovered:

Missouri CD 3

Date of Poll: 8/17/2010
Participants: 1,089 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±2.97%
 PARTY AFFILIATION   
TotalRepublicanDemocratIndependent
CHOICE FOR CONGRESS
Russ Carnahan48.10%12.26%86.73%32.53%
Ed Martin38.83%77.78%7.14%44.89%
Unsure13.07%9.96%6.12%22.58%

As we’ve seen in so many other areas of the nation, Independents are leaning toward the Republican in this race. However, Carnahan is enjoying a 12% boost from GOP voters, and the natural tilt toward Democratic candidates is keeping his head above water at this time. Still, Carnahan remains below 50%, and if Martin gets a toehold, the hill isn’t that steep to climb.

Missouri CD 4: Incumbent Ike Skelton (D) vs Vicky Hartzler (R)

MO 4 encompasses west central part of the state including Kansas City eastern ‘burbs and Jefferson City. This district is tabbed with a R+14 by the Cook Political Report, and the conservative Democrat Ike Skelton has been untouchable here since 1977. But in 2008,  MO 4 supported John McCain with more than 60% of the vote, and this district is a poster child for Big Government discontent, so many are keeping an eye on this race for any signs of havoc in the heartland.

The Republican challenger is Vicky Hartzler, a former state representative and spokesman for the Coalition to Protect Marriage–a group that helped pass by a wide margin a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Skelton has always enjoyed a big crossover vote due to his conservative roots, but has backed the party line on some issues that social conservatives dislike. Will those votes and the current throw-the-bums-out mentality be enough to knock off the venerable Skelton? Cue the poll results…

Missouri CD 4

Date of Poll: 8/17/2010
Participants: 1,207 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±2.82%
 PARTY AFFILIATION   
TotalRepublicanDemocratIndependent
CHOICE FOR CONGRESS
Ike Skelton45.18%26.61%79.23%36.59%
Vicky Hartzler41.73%61.59%15.43%40.55%
Unsure13.09%11.80%5.34%22.87%

We were surprised to not only find this one so close, but that the trends we’ve measured elsewhere are weak here. While it is no surprise that Skelton is receiving a sizable chunk (26+ percent) of the GOP vote, Hartzler’s 15% of the Democratic nod is an eye opener. The small but important lead Hartzler has with Independents–if it stays–is putting this race at the very top of  our Watch List.

While conventional wisdom may dictate that Skelton will pull this one out, there isn’t too much conventional about this year’s elections.

Triple Play in the Buckeye State

Those of you old enough to remember the 1970’s Cincinnati Reds know that they earned the nickname of The Big Red Machine. Now, many pundits want us to believe that the State of Ohio will become a political big red machine this fall when the Buckeyes choose whether to retain “Blue Dog” members of Congress who were swept into victory in the Obama tsunami of 2008. We looked at three key Ohio districts in our Quick-Shot Series of polls:

CD 1-Victory in the Burbs:
Incumbent Steve Driehaus (D) vs. Steve Chabot (R)

Ohio CD 1 provides one of the more intriguing races in the state. This district encompasses part of Cincinnati and some western and northern suburbs. Republican Challenger Steve Chabot was a seven-term incumbent who had never tracked well in the city but was always able to pull out victories in the burbs. But 2008 was a different story, as Barack Obama brought out more city voters and Independent suburbanites, and Steve Driehaus won by a 52-48 margin. But this won’t necessary be a one-and-done term for Driehaus. As a former Minority Whip for the Ohio House, Driehaus is a fiscal conservative , is fairly moderate on many key issues and by all accounts a good campaigner. Still, Chabot is running roughly even in fund raising and is no political neophyte. We would urge you to read the following poll results carefully and check back with us to see if it tightens up…as we suspect it will.

Ohio CD 1

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,001 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.10%
 TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(D) Steve Driehaus38.70%85.13%5.57%26.67%
(R) Steve Chabot50.77%7.59%90.40%53.33%
Other/Unsure10.53%7.28%4.02%20.00%

CD 12-The Tiberi Shuffle:
Incumbent Patrick Tiberi (R) vs. Paula Brooks (D)

Are Independent voters adopting a throw-the-bums-out attitude, or turning to the political right? This series of Quick-Shot Polls has been measuring Independents’ views of a number of Democratic incumbents, but what about office holders from the GOP?

To test that out, we turned to Ohio CD 12, where, in 2008, Republican incumbent Patrick Tiberi defended the seat he’s occupied since 2000 in a district that contains most of Columbus’ African-American population. However, most agree that Tiberi’s opponent in 2008 was weak, and Ohio observers feel that  Paula Brooks will present a much more aggressive challenge for him. Plus, many believe that Congress’ microscopic approval rating will help shuffle Tiberi out of office.

But what do voters think?

Ohio CD 12

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 995 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.11%
 TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(R) Patrick Tiberi51.10%15.95%85.08%45.17%
(D) Paula Brooks34.42%70.76%7.46%30.34%
Other/Unsure14.48%13.29%7.46%24.48%

In this district, Independents are–at the moment–clearly looking at Republican Tiberi as their choice. Obviously, one poll in a single district should never be used as proof of a national trend…and you’ll see in the coming days why. But for now, Congressman Tiberi is enjoying a comfortable lead thanks in part to his Independent backers.

CD 15-Kilroy was here:
Incumbent Mary Jo Kilroy (D) vs. Steve Stivers (R)

CD 15 covers the part of Columbus with The Ohio State University (my Buckeye friends would fry me if I left the “The” out of the title) and promises to be one helluva contest come November. Democrat Incumbent Mary Jo Kilroy eked out a victory in 2008 over Republican Steve Stivers by less than a percentage point in a five-way race, and the two are are the top of the fight card again this year.

Although Stivers is certainly counting on gaining ground from the diminished popularity of President Obama, his background as a bank lobbyist was easy pickings last time…and banks continue to be the target of concern for many today. But multiple reports hint that Kilroy lacks some fundamental political skills (there are some YouTube deer-in-the-headlights moments hanging out there) and hasn’t set the world on fire in her first term. This one was nasty in 2008, and most believe that matters will escalate this summer.

Let’s see where each stands with voters:

Ohio CD 15

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 998 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.10%
 AFFILIATION   
TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(D) Mary Jo Kilroy40.64%76.80%6.67%31.68%
(R) Steve Stivers46.33%11.73%87.27%44.27%
Other/Unsure13.03%11.47%6.06%24.05%

Mild about Harry

The state flag of Nevada  bears these words: Battle Born–a phrase that seems quite appropriate for the upcoming campaign for U.S. Senator from this state.

It wasn’t that long ago that many political pundits had Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) dead and buried. High unemployment, a rapidly growing Tea Party Movement and Reid’s leadership in passing such Big Government issues as health-care reforms had the four-term senator down by double digits in the polls. But Republican challenger Sharron Angle has seemingly allowed Senator Reid up off the mat.

The firebrand Angle has been criticized for leading a lackluster campaign that has featured politically risky positions on Social Security, pulling the plug on the U.S. Education Department, and approval of nuclear waste processing in Nevada–not a real solid platform to win the hearts and minds of local voters. Democrats have torn into her like gamblers at a free buffet, and they can do it early and often with Reid’s sizable war chest and inexpensive TV time available in the Sagebrush State. The turnaround in Senator Reid’s fortunes are dramatic–but have clearly not yet resulted in a lock on re-election.

For such a powerful and well-healed figure, Reid’s numbers (in this and other polls) are milquetoast at best. Nevada voters seem dissatisfied with their choices, and a 4.5 point lead at this juncture probably only moves this race from a loss for Democrats to a tossup. And since the main point in this Quick-Shot Series of polls is to measure where Independent voters are heading, let’s take a look at the results:

Mild about Harry

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,070 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±2.99%
 TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
SENATE CHOICE
(D) Harry Reid45.60%78.97%15.55%32.28%
(R) Sharron Angle41.00%12.47%71.34%47.02%
Other/Unsure13.41%8.56%13.11%20.70%

Like many other states, Independents seem to be turning toward the GOP in Nevada. But unlike many other races we’ve polled, the Democrat incumbent is getting the nod from more than 15% of the Republican voters. Published polls show both candidates with a high percentage of the electorate who view them in an unfavorable light, and the mud that’s flying there isn’t going to help either one out.

Battle Born indeed.

Wisconsin 7: Life after Obey

I can’t think of the north woods of Wisconsin without thinking of the old Hamm’s beer jingle: “From the land of sky-blue waters (wa-ha-terssss)…” This is the land of logging camps, muskies, rustic cabins with knotty-pine interiors and an electorate that historically held an independently progressive streak. When this district’s venerable Congressman, David Obey, announced his retirement after 40 years of serving the area, local Republicans believed that they finally had a chance to break through. But do they?

While it’s not official until their primary is held in September, the pundits agree that that the GOP will have a strong candidate in Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy. Duffy has garnered a reputation as a tireless worker whose strong fund-raising efforts are keeping him in the game. The Democrats’ likely candidate is no slouch as well: State Senator Julie Lassa. In this election where, nationally speaking,  new=better, Lassa has the burden of having a legislative voting record which will undoubted be forensically examined and splashed. Also at play here is the fact that this district’s Independent voters’ negative reaction to Obey’s votes on a variety  of President Obama’s reform measures–notably health-care reform. (See post HERE.)

That leads us to the purpose of this Quick-Shot series: to measure the mindset of the all-important Independent voters at this point in the election cycle.  This series of polls are aimed at just that, and while we feel confident about the overall head-to-head numbers, the focus here is on INDEPENDENTS. Got it? OK.

Late last week we asked 1,002 randomly selected voters in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District two simple questions:

If the election for your member of Congress were held today, for whom would you vote? and…

What is your political party affiliation?

Here are the results:

Wisconsin CD 7 - Life after Obey

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,002 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.10%
CANDIDATETotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
(R) Sean Duffy41.83%11.53%79.50%37.77%
(D) Julie Lassa33.09%72.88%4.68%22.87%
Other/Unsure25.08%15.59%15.83%39.36%

***********************************************************************

As you will see as our Quick-Shot Series, WI-7 mirrors a trend in two areas:

  • Democrat voters are straying a bit more off base than Republicans. In WI-7, 11.53% of those who said they were Democrats chose Sean Duffy, but only 4.68% of Republican chose Julie Lassa.
  • Independents are  leaning the GOP’s way. In WI-7, the GOP enjoy a 15% margin. However, this district has one of the highest percentages of undecided Independents, so this is a long way from over.

You may be wondering whether the advantage that Republicans have over Democrats among Independents is an anti-incumbent sentiment or a turn to the right. Watch for more in this series to find out!

to measure the mindset of the all-important Independent voters at this point in the election cycle.  This series of polls are aimed at just that, and while we feel confident about the overall head-to-head numbers, the focus here is on INDEPENDENTS. Got it? OK.

The Show Me State

After a busy season conducting contracted poll, We Ask America is today announcing a series of “Quick Shots” where we poll key races with two questions only:

  1. If the election for your [U.S. Senator/Member of Congress] were held today, for whom would you vote?
  2. What is your political party affiliation?

We kick off the series in the Show Me state–Missouri. Tuesday’s primary in Cardinal-land did more than set the ballot in November–it provided a whopping 71-29 passage of a referendum essentially nixing national health care reforms. Missouri’s race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Kit Bond, though, will certainly not be a lopsided affair.  Most pundits view this one as The One to Watch: expensive and as loud of the crack of Albert Pujols’ bat.

The principals here are Democrat Robin Carnahan and Republican Roy Blunt. Both sides have hit each other with the dreaded insider tag, and with some justification. Carnahan is attempting to become heir apparent to her family’s extensive political history in Missouri, while House Minority Whip Blunt is a fixture in the House. And–as if the two previous baseball references weren’t enough–they do play hard ball in Missouri, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one.

The results, below, give you the top-line results (TOTAL COLUMN) with breakdowns on party-affiliation lines.

MISSOURI SENATE

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,024 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.06%
SENATE CHOICETotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
(D) Robin Carnahan43.22%82.84%6.46%33.67%
(R) Roy Blunt46.63%9.92%88.62%46.80%
Other/Unsure10.15%7.24%4.92%19.53%

Murtha-style mojo?

The eyes of political pundits across the nation will focus the May 18 Special Election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. We Ask America first polled this race on March 16, and the same intrepid reader (Pat Garrett) suggested we look at it again to see how things have changed.

PA-12’s Special Election is the result of the passing of Congressman John Murtha. As we noted earlier this spring, the district is the only one in the nation that went for John Kerry in 2004 and then backed John McCain four years later. The area is rated an R+1 by the Cook Political Report.

The Democrats are pinning their hopes on Mark Critz, Murtha’s Chief of Staff. But Murtha faced some rough challenges in recent years, and some believe his Election Day mojo won’t transfer so easily. Republican businessman Tim Burns has proven to be a pretty decent candidate, and recent surveys showing a close race with mixed results.

The campaign in this race have become predictably testy. Critz is attempting to paint Burns as just another rich white guy who wants a national sales tax (an allegation Burns calls an out-and-out lie), while Burns has hit his opponent with accusations concerning questionable earmarks Murtha made which benefit a former Critz employer.

A Burns win here would certainly be hailed by the GOP as proof-positive that the country is rejecting the programs and mission of President Obama and Nancy Peolosi, while a Critz win would probably provide a sense of relief to Democrats who still are agog over some recent losses–especially in Massachusetts.

THE RESULTS

We asked 888 likely voters who their choice will be on May 18 (we identified each person by Party…Democrat Mark Critz & Republican Tim Burns). Here’ our results:

Pennsylvania CD 12 - Poll 2

 Mark CritzTim BurnsUndecided
OVERALL43.58%35.14%21.28%
GENDER
Female45.28%31.60%23.12%
Male43.03%41.21%15.76%
PARTY AFFILIATION
Republican10.80%76.00%13.20%
Democrat69.63%13.79%16.59%
Independent29.38%30.63%40.00%
AGE BRACKET
18-2433.33%40.00%26.67%
25-3448.98%28.57%22.45%
35-4435.80%40.74%23.46%
45-5443.24%42.34%14.41%
55-6447.15%36.79%16.06%
65+44.83%33.42%21.75%
Date of Poll: May 13, 2010
Number of responses: 888
Margin of Error: ±3.29%

Report of death exaggerated?

Even if we weren’t based in the Land of Lincoln, we’d find Illinois politics fascinating. And now, in this blue state, Republicans are holding their own in recent polling. Will it last? It’s too early to tell, and there’s some conflicting indicators here that make the overall picture even more of a mystery. First, let’s look at the race for the U.S. Senate.

Senate: Democrat Alexi Giannoulias vs Republican Mark Kirk vs Green Party’s LeAlan Jones. (Incumbent: Roland Burris)

Alexi Giannoulias is the Democrat State Treasurer and was a regular during the famous presidential campaign pick-up basketball games. Giannoulias was only 30 years old when elected to office largely on the strength of his experience as a loan officer in his family’s bank. Now, that bank has been the fodder for some fairly spectacular headlines involving, among other things, loans to mob figures. To complicate matters, the bank was recently taken over by the FDIC amid stories of mismanagement (although Giannoulias makes the argument that the Economy was the culprit).  And it really didn’t help that he was at the helm of the Treasurer’s Office when the nation’s economy went south contributing to a sizable loss in a college-savings program he oversaw.

The Republican challenger is Congressman Mark Kirk.  Kirk had a fairly easy primary, but has taken his share of grief by his own Party over his voting record in Congress. A fiscal conservative with a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics, Kirk lives in the 10th Congressional District which leans left. He’s faced some tough battles over the past few elections…but has prevailed in all. And while he ticked off many of the state’s employers with some of his previous stances that may reflect his home district’s views, he gets the credit for talking directly with business leaders  after those votes, taking the full brunt of heat and living to run for higher office…aided greatly by his stalwart stance against deficits. Kirk touts his military background as an intelligence officer for the Naval Reserve (he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008), and has not had to endure the media glare that Giannoulias has experienced.

The Green Party candidate, LeAlan Jones, touts himself as a “Award-winning journalist. Single father. Football coach. Truth-teller.” While no one is giving Mr. Jones a chance, it should be noted that the Green Party has done surprisingly well in Illinois, (see Rich Whitney, below) and Jones can certainly play a spoiler role in the fall.

On Sunday, May 2, 2010, we asked 1,090 likely Illinois voters who they are supporting for the U.S. Senate. Note that each candidate was identified by political party affiliation. Here are the results:

Illinois: U.S. Senate

 Alexi Giannoulias (D)Mark Kirk (R)LeAlan Jones (G)Unsure
OVERALL32.20%45.23%5.32%17.25%
GENDER
Female31.91%46.48%3.44%18.17%
Male32.68%48.32%6.98%12.01%
PARTY AFFILIATION
Democrat65.65%12.16%5.47%16.72%
Republican3.82%84.08%2.23%9.87%
Independent/Other24.91%47.06%6.92%21.11%
Date of Poll: May 2, 2010
Number of responses: 1,090
Margin of Error: ±2.97%

Note that Kirk’s edge among Independents has ebbed by about five percentage points over the past month, but his lead has actually gained five points.

Illinois Governor: Democrat Pat Quinn vs Republican Bill Brady vs Green Party’s Rich Whitney

Republican State Senator Bill Brady is a home-builder from downstate Bloomington. He won a squeaker Primary by about 200 votes on his second run for governor in Illinois’ February 2nd election. Brady has yet to pull a significant vote total out of the state’s collar counties–the traditional GOP stronghold–but is said to be working the northern part of the state hard. He recently received some flak when he allowed reporters to examine his tax records and it was discovered that he had not paid (or owed any) income taxes for the past two years. Many chalked that up to the fact that the home-building industry was slammed by the economy  (unlike Giannoulias, there has been no scandals attached to his business dealings), but you can bet his opponents will have some fun with that when the heat gets turned on.

Democrat Pat Quinn is the incumbent due to his ascension to governor after Rod Blagojevich was impeached. As Lt. Governor, Quinn was a vocal opponent to many of Blago’s antics, but he also is on record saying good things about him when they ran and won as a team in 2002 and 2006. Quinn is a populist’s populist–he ends most of his speeches with the phrase: “May the will of the People be the law of the land.” He won a close, tough primary against State Comptroller Dan Hynes who bloodied him with some effective TV and radio ads. But Quinn ultimately prevailed when he parlayed his sincere outreach to veterans and the families of soldiers lost in Iraq into his campaign biography. Due to the state’s financial problems, Quinn has been touting a sizable income tax increase which is falling on deaf ears in the General Assembly. However, the Legislature’s hearing is rumored to improve after the fall elections, and he may be able to put revenue enhancers on the back burner until then. Ever the populist, Quinn recently (and somewhat quietly) urged the Illinois legislature to consider dramatic expansions to the nation’s recent health care reforms–“Obama-care on steroids” as one wag put it. The polling results on that issue shows that, politically speaking,  he was wise for keeping the initiative quiet.

Rich Whitney (Green Party) is a civil rights attorney from Carbondale. Whitney surprised election pundits in 2006 by receiving 10.4% of the vote for governor–a feat some feel was tied to Democrats turning elsewhere rather than vote for Blagojevich. Be that as it may, Whitney may once again prove to be the recipient of a growing number of voters who embrace anti-incumbentism, and therefore play a spoiler role.

Here are the results of the poll we took on the Illinois Governor’s race on May 2, 2010. (Again, we identify the political party of each person for the participants.)

Illinois: Governor's Race

 Bill Brady (R)Pat Quinn (D)Rich Whitney (G) Unsure
OVERALL46.25%31.15%4.81%17.79%
GENDER
Female46.32%30.77%3.44%19.48%
Male48.60%32.96%6.98%11.45%
PARTY AFFILIATION
Democrat15.81%58.97%5.17%20.06%
Republican83.12%5.73%2.55%8.60%
Independent/Other43.94%27.68%7.27%21.11%
Date of Poll: May 2, 2010
Number of responses: 1050
Margin of Error: ±3.02%

Note the percent of UNDECIDEDS among Democrats and Independents is roughly the same. This fact may not bode well for Quinn, who has been a fixture in Illinois’ Democratic scene for decades. While many feel that those votes will ultimately come home to roost, We Ask America will be watching those and INDEPENDENT voters carefully for signs of movement.

NY State of Mind …

The retirement of New York Congressman Eric Massa (D-29) puts this district into play in the fall…or maybe sooner. Many are calling on NY governor David Patterson to call a Special Election. According to published reports, New York law allows Patterson some wiggle room in that area, and he’s taking full advantage of that leeway so far.

The district, which contains parts of Ontario and Monroe counties, earns an R +5 Cook Rating, so Republicans are chomping at the bit to get a Special Election scheduled so their guy, former Corning Mayor Tom Reed, can get his shot. The Democrats have tabbed Matthew Zeller, an Afghan war vet and–according to CQ Politics–an “unknown former CIA employee.” Does anyone else think this could be a real fun one to watch?

The circumstances in NY-29 are compelling enough for us to ask the good people of that area how they feel about holding a special election, and who is leading currently in the polls. On April 20th, we asked 904 voters in NY-29 two questions. First:

Do you think the governor should call for a special election to fill the 29th District’s vacancy?

 YesNoUnsure
OVERALL60.84%26.66%12.50%
GENDER
Female59.08%27.77%13.15%
Male65.37%26.04%8.59%
AFFILIATION
Democrat60.34%28.02%11.64%
Republican63.91%24.79%11.29%
Independent61.28%29.79%8.94%

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We then asked them:

If the election for congressman from this area were held today, for whom would you vote? (choices identified by Party)

NY-29 Choice for Congress

 Tom ReedMatthew ZellerUnsure
OVERALL41.38%24.01%34.62%
GENDER
Female38.83%25.89%35.28%
Male46.26%21.88%31.86%
AFFILIATION
Democrat12.93%53.45%33.62%
Republican67.77%8.82%23.42%
Independent31.49%19.57%48.94%
Date of Poll: April 20, 2010
Number of responses: 904
Margin of Error: ±3.26%

Does Battle Creek think health-care reform is GRRRREAT?

Michigan’s 7th District hugs the central part of the southern third of the state, and includes Cereal City (Battle Creek), all of Branch, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson, and Lenawee counties, most of Calhoun and a large portion of western and northern Washtenaw counties. The district’s R+2 Cook PVI rating puts Democratic Congressman Mark Schauer (above) at the epicenter of a major battle for that seat in the fall, and that race certainly will garner the attention of political pundits throughout the nation.

Schauer will face the winner of the  GOP primary either Iraq War veteran and attorney Brian Rooney, former U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, businessman Marvin Carlson (R), or pharmaceutical representative Greg Merle in the November 2010 election.

On March 25, we asked 1,337 voters in Michigan’s 7th Congressional district this question:

Your congressman, Mark Schauer, voted in favor of the president’s health-care package last Sunday. Does that make you more likely, or less likely to support him for re-election?

Here are the responses:

Michigan 7: Reaction to Health Care Package

 More LikelyLess LikelyUndecided
OVERALL33.81%59.46%6.73%
GENDER
Female36.42%55.89%7.68%
Male29.96%64.80%5.23%
POLITICAL AFFILIATION
Democrat65.57%25.75%8.68%
Republican11.93%85.44%2.63%
Independent/Other31.67%60.08%8.25%
Date of Poll: March 25, 2010
Number of responses: 1,337
Margin of Error: ±2.68%