Safe at Home

Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. has been traveling down a bumpy road the last few years. His still-unresolved connection to an alleged 2008 scheme by former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to sell or trade the appointment of a U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the election of Barack Obama as president resulted in a ongoing congressional ethics committee probe. That was closely followed by some sordid accusations about his private life–a tough one-two punch in the gut for most politicians. His ongoing negative press combined with the newly redrawn district made some Democrats believe that Jackson could be vulnerable in the Primary, and he was indeed challenged by former U.S. Representative Debbie Halvorson. That effort flopped, and Jackson appeared ready to cruise to an easy November win.

Then, Jackson disappeared amidst vague reports of hospitalization for an undisclosed ailment at an undisclosed location. Chicago-area reporters and radio talk show pundits had a field day playing “Where’s Jesse?” until it was finally announced that Jackson was been receiving treatments for a bi-polar disorder at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. While that could’ve settled matters for the time being, Jackson’s complex situation encouraged many to take a “wait for it…” approach. Then, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Jackson was being investigated by federal authorities for the possible misuse of campaign funds to decorate his home. And federal authorities confirmed that the probe was initiated before Congressman Jackson sought treatment.

While Jackson’s district is solidly Democratic and few questioned whether he would be re-elected, a number of readers–including a few reporters–have asked us to poll this area, apparently believing that Jackson’s problems would certainly have to translate into a disgruntled electorate. So, we asked 819 likely voters in Illinois’ Second Congressional District two basic questions plus a string of demographic-based inquiries. First, here are the weighted results to a straight head-to-head question about their choice for congressman. As with all our polls this late in election season, we force participants to make a choice–no “undecideds.” And remember that rounding to whole numbers can cause a total to not add up to 100 percent.

Poll type: Automated Date: October 21, 2012 - Participants: 819 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.5%
 Jesse Jackson Jr. (D)Brian Woodworth (R)Marcus Lucas (I)
ALL VOTERS58%27%15%
WOMEN ONLY65%21%13%
MEN ONLY49%35%16%
WHITE ONLY32%54%14%

Then we asked the poll participants this question: Do you AGREE or DISAGREE with this statement: “I am happy with the congressional candidates on the ballot. I do not wish someone else was running instead.” Here’s what they said about that:

MEN ONLY50%50%

Clearly, Jackson enjoys the support of the voters he represents, and perhaps its time for those who continue to express incredulity to get over it. Jesse Jackson Jr. is safe at home.