(Chicago) – Southern Illinois voters are unhappy with the direction of the state and with the job performance of Governor Bruce Rauner, according to a new poll.
The survey by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale found almost 80 percent of registered voters in the region think the state and the nation are headed in the wrong direction.
“These results probably reflect some of Illinois’ current conflicts,” said John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Institute. “Most polls show that more people feel their state is doing better than the nation. Not here.”
Fewer than 15 percent think Illinois and the U.S. are on the right track.
The poll also reveals that Southern Illinois voters are deeply unhappy with the way Rauner is handling his job. Only 37.4 percent approve of Rauner’s performance in office, while 50.7 percent disapprove. About one in eight (11.9 percent) had no opinion about the first-term Republican.
“Though Democrats and Republicans are evenly distributed in our southern Illinois sample, this is still a conservative area, and one might have thought of it as fertile ground for Gov. Rauner,” said Charlie Leonard, one of the Institute’s visiting professors supervising the poll. “For his approval ratings to be ‘upside down’ in southern Illinois this early in his administration may not bode well for the pro-business agenda he’s been trying to push.”
GOP U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is also getting lukewarm reviews.
Kirk’s job-approval rating is 30.4 percent, with 22.9 percent disapproving. A plurality of voters in the region – 46.6 percent – don’t know how they feel about the first-term lawmaker.
“Voters here have been in a bad mood and they continue to be,” said David Yepsen, director of the Institute. “The only surprise is how many people don’t have an opinion about Senator Kirk. For a statewide Republican incumbent to have such ambivalent ratings down here isn’t a good sign for him as he heads into a tough re-election campaign. He needs to be running well in this area to offset Democratic strengths elsewhere in the state.”
Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Durbin is drawing approval ratings barely above 50%. Half (50.6 percent) approve of the Democrat’s performance and a third (33.5 percent) disapprove. There are 16 percent who don’t know.
The Simon Institute’s Southern Illinois poll, conducted between September 22-October 2, interviewed 401 registered voters across the 18 southernmost counties in Illinois: Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Union, Washington, White, and Williamson.
It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
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