Republicans continue to lead the races for both Governor and Senator in Illinois, albeit by close margins. Mark Kirk is ahead of Alexi Giannoulias 46-42 for the state's open Senate seat and Bill Brady is ahead of Pat Quinn 45-40 for Governor.
There are three main reasons Republicans are headed for big gains across the country this year and the Illinois races exemplify all three of them:
-Independents are leaning strongly toward the GOP. Kirk leads Giannoulias 46-31 with them and Brady has a 45-27 advantage over Quinn with them.
-Republican voters are much more unified around their candidates this year than Democrats are. 87% of GOP identifiers are planning to vote for Kirk while only 78% of Democrats are planning to vote for Giannoulias. In the Governor's race 86% of Republicans support Brady while Quinn's only getting 75% support from his party.
-Republican voters are much more likely to head to the polls this year than Democrats. In 2008 Barack Obama won Illinois by 25 points. Those who say they're likely to vote this year only supported him by 14 points. That's a strong indication that many of the voters who were a part of the Obama 'wave' are staying at home this year.
No matter who wins either of these races Illinois voters will be left with a Governor and Senator that they don't like. Giannoulias' favorability is 35/49, Kirk's isn't much better at 39/45. Quinn's approval is 32/54 and that's a good thing for Brady because voters don't like him either, giving him a favorability of 39/45.
The presence of the third party candidates in the race seems to really be hurting Giannoulias. In a straight head to head between him and Kirk he trails by only a 46-45 margin. But a fair number of progressive voters who don't like Giannoulias but can't bring themselves to vote for Kirk are supporting the minor candidates in the contest.
As for Quinn he's made an impressive comeback over the course of the campaign and his prospects certainly look a lot better than they did back in the spring and summer. But at the end of the day it's an open question whether an incumbent Governor with a 32% approval rating can win reelection, no matter how blue their state or weak their opponent.
Full results here