(Chicago) – It has been clear to the most casual observer.
Pat Quinn wants his old job back again.
Still, a former top aide to Quinn who is in regular contact with the ex-governor recently confirmed to The Illinois Observer, “He’s running again.”
A May 19 poll of 792 likely 2016 voters commissioned by The Illinois Observer and provided to the subscribers of our e-newsletter The Insider on Friday, May 27 (subscribe here), gives Quinn, at least superficially, reason to be hopeful about a rematch with Governor Bruce Rauner.
According to the survey, Quinn leads Rauner 41%-33%. 26% are undecided.
The automated poll, which had a +/- 3.75% margin of error, shows that partisans on each side are largely – but not solidly – lined up behind Quinn and Rauner, but Independents are tipping the balance in the ex-governor’s favor.
Quinn is taking 63% of Democrats and Rauner is grabbing 65% of Republicans, while 26% of Democrats are undecided about Quinn and an equal margin of Republicans, 25%, are undecided about the incumbent. Independents, who provide the margin of Quinn’s lead, tilt toward the Democrat by a 42%-31% margin, while 27% are undecided.
It’s Rauner’s current weakness rather than Quinn’s “strength” that is driving the ex-governor’s lead.
As The Insider‘s subscribers know, last Monday we reported that the governor’s job disapproval had risen to 57% from 51% in January 2016 while his approval remained steady at 33%. Only 10% are undecided. In the poll, Rauner is getting clobbered by Independent voters. A solid 57% disapprove of the governor’s handling of his job and only 30% approve. 13% are undecided.
Still, voters have an almost equally dismal view of Quinn’s tenure.
Only 36% of voters approve of the job that Quinn did as governor and 44% disapprove. In other words, he’s eight-points underwater. 20% are undecided.
Just 55% of Democrats approve of Quinn’s job performance and 27% disapprove. 18% are undecided. Independents split at 36% who approve and 38% who disapprove. 26% are undecided.
But that 55% Democratic approval number is what will encourage Quinn – and stoke the fears of the Democratic establishment – that he can win a Democratic primary.
“This poll should be a wake up call to labor that they need to find a candidate in order to keep that monster in a bottle,” a top Democrat told The Insider after learning of the poll numbers and who was not surprised by the results.
— Ian Pajer-Rogers (@IanPajerRogers) May 20, 2016
Voter disenchantment with Rauner – and Quinn’s edge – is also likely being fueled by overall voter dissatisfaction with the state’s “direction”.
According to the poll, a whopping 78% think Illinois is lurching in the “wrong” direction and just 9% say the state is heading in the “right” direction. And 86% of Democrats pick “wrong” direction along with 76% of Republicans and 73% of Independents who say the same.
Rauner’s drooping approval numbers and voter unease with the state’s direction is giving all big name Democrats a leg up over the governor in a 2018 match up – but none with more than 50%.
The poll says that U.S. Senator Dick Durbin leads Rauner 43-32% with Independents providing Durbin a big edge, 46%-29%. Attorney General Lisa Madigan leads Rauner 42%-32%. Ditto Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, 38%-30%.
Durbin has generated a splash of attention in recent weeks over a potential gubernatorial candidacy. But not all Democratic insiders are enthused over a Durbin candidacy given his weak reelection performance in 2014 against State Senator Jim Oberweis (R-Owego).
“Dick is respected by the Democratic establishment as a statesman and a competent lawmaker,” a top Democratic source says. “But his hold over the electorate has slipped. He’s nowhere near as popular as he used to be.”
Durbin defeated the underfunded, uninspiring Oberweis only 53.5% – 42.7%. That’s a far shout from his 2008 defeat of Republican Steve Sauerberg 67.8%% – 28.5%. In a 2018 fight, Durbin won’t have a presidential election year wind at his back.
Despite Rauner’s terrible job approval numbers, Democratic warhorses are riding no tidal wave of support. They – even Quinn – begin with an advantage. But that’s all. An advantage. Not a slam dunk.
In the meantime, Rauner has become a known quantity to Illinois voters – and that’s to his detriment.
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