Yet another statewide survey shows big trouble for Governor Rod Blagojevich.
The Glengariff Group's poll of 600 registered Illinois voters found Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka leading Blagojevich 33-31. This particular question had a margin of error of +/-4 percent, so there is a 69 percent probability that the result is not simply due to sampling error. The poll also asked which way voters were leaning, and Topinka still led 39-36. The poll was taken June 2-4, after the legislative session ended and the governor had received his first positive media coverage in months.
The poll found that 38 percent identified themselves as Democrats, so in both questions, the governor wasn't even getting all of the Democratic vote. 29 percent said they were Republicans, 27 percent said they were independents.
The Glengariff Group is based in Chicago, but has done a lot of work in Michigan. The pollster was doing a statewide survey for a client, and "I threw a few political questions onto the survey -- more for my own curiosity than anything," explained pollster Richard Czuba in an e-mail last week. Czuba stressed that the questions were "not commissioned" by any campaign.
The poll also surveyed Democratic primary voters and discovered that Attorney General Lisa Madigan is tied with Blagojevich 31-31 with 21 percent undecided. When "leaners" were factored in, Blagojevich led Madigan 39-38.
This is the first time that a pollster has released details of a Democratic primary head-to-head, but the margin of error is so high - 6.5 percent - that the results are not exactly solid. Madigan is not a likely candidate, despite all the rumors to the contrary, however. She just had a new baby and is young enough that she can wait for a relatively clear shot at the Democratic primary.
The survey of Republican primary voters had an even higher margin of error - 7.4 percent - but it had Topinka leading the field with 18 percent, or 25 percent if you count those who said they were leaning towards her. Dairy magnate Jim Oberweis was in second place at 15 percent (16 percent with leaners), Congressman Ray LaHood was at 9 percent (10 with leaners), state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger was at 3 percent (4 with leaners) and Ron Gidwitz was trailing the pack with 1 percent (1 with leaners).
The pollster didn't pit any other GOP candidate against Blagojevich, which has the Topinka campaign a bit upset. They strongly believe that crossover Democratic voters and Democrat-leaning independents are the key to winning the general election, and maintain that the other GOP candidates wouldn't have fared as well in head-to-head with Blagojevich.
A spokesman for Rauschenberger had a different take.
"The polls right now are almost strictly a reflection of name ID, something that tends to even out over the life of a campaign, at least among principal contenders," wrote Dan Proft, a Rauschenberger advisor, in an e-mail.
Proft contended that Topinka, "a 30-year GOP office holder with 75% hard name ID," scoring just 18 percent in a GOP primary and finding herself in a "statistical dead heat" with Oberweis, "a guy who has made a name for himself by stepping all over himself in two statewide runs," is, "not particularly compelling."
Proft also claimed that Topinka's strong head-to-head results against Blagojevich are merely a function of the governor's own lousy numbers.
Proft makes some good points, but Rauschenberger just ran a statewide race for US Senate last year, coming in third in the Republican primary. Despite all that effort, to score just 3 percent in the governor's primary race is far from "compelling."
But let's take Proft's side for a moment and look at the governor's numbers by themselves, ignoring the Topinka results.
The governor scored just 51 percent in Chicago - a Democratic bastion. He should be at 75 percent, at least. Suburban Cook County, which has trended more and more Democratic for years, also had bad news. The governor was winning just 37 percent there.
Just 20 percent supported Blagojevich in the suburban "collar counties," which is a pitiful result. Only 27 percent backed him in southern Illinois. And a paltry 17 percent of central Illinois residents said they'd vote for the governor.
The governor's campaign claims he has raised at least $14 million so far for his re-election campaign. He'll need a lot more to turn these numbers around.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter. He can be reached at capitolfax.blogspot.com.