There can't be another Senate race in the country where voters are as unimpressed with their choices as Illinois. Our newest poll in the state finds the unpopular Mark Kirk and the unpopular Alexi Giannoulias combining for a paltry 61% of the vote with 14% of voters going to Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones and 24% undecided.
This poll represents progress for Giannoulias since PPP last looked at the race in early April. He now leads 31-30 where he previously trailed Kirk 37-33. The main thing that's changed since then is voter perceptions of Kirk. His net favorability of +1 (24/23) has seen a decline of nine points to -8 (23/31). Giannoulias is just as unpopular as Kirk, sporting the exact same 23/31 favorability spread. But that's not a new development for him- he was already at -7 (21/28) back in the spring. Nothing voters have learned about Giannoulias in the last three months has made them like him any less than they already did.
The recent controversy regarding statements Kirk has made about his military service seems to be taking a large toll on him. Only 10% of voters in the state think Kirk has been truthful about his military service while 45% think he has lied and 45% are unsure. The good news for Kirk is that only 22% of voters say they've been following the story very closely, because among those folks Giannoulias has a 39-28 lead. That may be a short lived saving grace for Kirk though since Democrats will make sure voters are very familiar with the story by the fall.
The beneficiary of the voter disgust with both Giannoulias and Kirk is Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones. Despite being viewed favorably by only 2% of voters in the state he's pulling 14% in the horse race. Posing a particular problem for Giannoulias is that Jones is getting a remarkable 26% of the black vote right now. Third party candidates often poll a lot better in the summer than they do by the fall so it will be interesting to see if these folks really stick with Jones or go back to the Democratic fold and that could end up being one of the defining stories of this race.
It's hard to see this race as anything but a pure tossup at this juncture but in Illinois a race between a flawed Democrat and a flawed Republican is probably going to end up in the Democratic column, and Giannoulias' 5 point gain relative to Kirk is in the 10 weeks reflects that.
Full results here