The Illinois Governor's race is starting to feel more and more like last year's contest in New Jersey all over again. Like Jon Corzine, Pat Quinn has horrid approval numbers. Like Corzine, he was down by a lot over the summer and looked like he was as good as dead. Like Corzine, he's pulled closer as his party's base has reluctantly unified around him. And like Corzine part of his competitiveness is predicated on voters who don't like him supporting a third party candidate instead of his Republican opponent. Whether Quinn's final fate will be the same as Corzine's we shall see.
Our new poll in Illinois finds Quinn trailing Bill Brady just 42-41 with third party candidates combining to get 10%. Whether those third party candidates can maintain their current level of support is going to be critical to Quinn's reelection hopes because in a head to head contest between Quinn and Brady the Republican leads 49-44. That suggests the folks going for the minor candidates are folks who really don't like Quinn but can't quite bring themselves to support Brady. The independent bid of Chris Daggett in New Jersey last year similarly propped up Corzine for a while and shifted the race to a tie but eventually Daggett's support collapsed with folks who had been saying they would vote for him and they moved toward Chris Christie, handing him his final victory.
Regardless of whether he will win in the end Quinn's comeback has been impressive. He trailed by 7 in our last poll. Since then he has convinced a lot of Democratic leaning undecideds to vote for him. He was receiving just 62% of the Democratic vote on our last poll but is now up to 71%. He's likewise increased his support from 27% to 40% with independent voters while Brady's support has remained steady.
Although Quinn remains very unpopular, with a 32% approval rating, the simple story on this race is that the better voters have gotten to know Bill Brady the more appealing Quinn has started looking in comparison. Back in April when Brady had 45% name recognition he led the race by 10 points. Now 83% of voters in the state know who Brady is and they don't like what they see. 39% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 44% with an unfavorable one.
It's hard to imagine that someone as unpopular as Quinn could really get reelected as Governor in the end but this race looks more interesting than it has in months as it enters its final days.
Full results here