A new statewide poll has found that 59 percent of Illinois registered voters want the Illinois Legislature to begin impeachment hearings against Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The survey of 600 registered voters was conducted May 7th through 10th and has a margin of error of +/-4 percent.
The Glengariff Group poll found that Blagojevich's disapproval rating was a whopping 65 percent, while just 26 percent approve. An Ipsos poll conducted in late March found that 54 percent disapproved of Blagojevich's poll ratings, but Ipsos also asked whether respondents had "mixed feelings," and Glengariff just asked straight up whether they approved or disapproved. Glengariff's survey found that 26 percent approve of Blagojevich's job approval (Ipsos: 13 percent), while 48.3 percent strongly disapproved.
The governor's job approval ratings, the coverage of the Tony Rezko trial, the frustrated attempt to put recall on the ballot, the disastrous debate over yet another pay raise for legislators and the governor and the horrendous right track / wrong track numbers (14 percent said the state was on the right track, while 71 percent said it was on the wrong track) all likely contributed to the impeachment hearings result. Just 29.6 percent of registered voters opposed holding impeachment hearings, while 38 percent strongly supported holding hearings and 20.5 percent "somewhat supported" the idea.
Even a plurality of Democrats supports holding impeachment hearings. Democratic voters said they supported the idea by a margin of 49.4 percent to 41.5 percent. Independents overwhelmingly like the proposal, backing it 63 to 24. And it's probably no surprise that Republicans love it. A whopping 73.5 percent of GOP voters said it was a good idea, compared to just 16 percent who said it wasn't.
Even so, Illinoisans are not yet completely convinced that Blagojevich should be removed from office. They do seem to be heading in that direction, however. A plurality of 45 percent said they supported "impeachment of Governor Rod Blagojevich forcing him to leave office," while 35 percent said they were opposed. 18 percent didn't know.
House Republican Leader Tom Cross and has gone out of his way to downplay impeachment talk in the past few weeks. Yet, 57 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents want the governor removed. Those numbers ought to give Cross serious pause.
"That will only grow," cracked one very high level House Democrat last week when told of the 44.7 percent result favoring the governor's removal. Unlike the recall proposal, hardly anybody is talking about impeachment in the media. There have been few if any editorials demanding Blagojevich's impeachment and only a handful of stories have been published or broadcast about the idea. If Tony Rezko is convicted and the impeachment talk heats up, that high-level Democrat is probably right about public support growing for removing the governor from office.
The governor's support rose among African-American voters since the last time Glengariff was in the field, but there is a very high margin of error in that relatively small polling subgroup, so it may just be a statistical anomaly. A year ago, Glengariff found that 81 percent of African-Americans thought Blagojevich was doing a good job. That dropped to just 38 percent in November of 2007, but rose again to 62 percent this month.
The governor, like President Bush, has played to his base over and over again, but, like Bush, that push has not stemmed the tide in other demographics. Blagojevich's job approval numbers among white voters is now just 18.8 percent, according to Glengariff, down from 29 percent in November.
Glengariff's poll also found that 73 percent supported putting a recall amendment on the ballot, up from 65 percent in its November survey. A University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs poll conducted in January found that 70 percent of Illinoisans supported recall, so this number is also likely right on the money.
Meanwhile, another statewide poll had a little fun with Blagojevich's reputation.
Ask Illinois, which conducts automated polls, asked 2,301 registered voters this question last Wednesday: "If you were given the choice between former Governor George Ryan and current Governor Rod Blagojevich, which do you think would do a better job running our state?"
Over half, 52 percent, chose Ryan, the imprisoned former governor. Blagojevich scored 48 percent. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 2.19 percent.
You know things are bad when you're losing a popularity contest to a federal inmate.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com.