Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Illinois Senate Poll

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


wt said...

Aren't both parties constrained on the military service issue? the Kirk/Blumenthal coin is two-sided.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you poll at least in one option on Kirk vs. Giannoulias themselves? How many times does it need to be proven that polling 3rd party candidates that poll high and get nothing screws up the poll? Just why couldn't you make a normal poll?

Anonymous said...

You mean be like Rasmussen and only poll two people and get a really flawed poll showing Kirk up by 10 points?

Anonymous said...

The Jones will be one of three names on the ballot, whether you like it or not. If you want an accurate poll, he should be included.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Aren't both parties constrained on the military service issue? the Kirk/Blumenthal coin is two-sided."

Sure, though those are two separate races, so Blumenthal's situation is irrelevant to this race, and other pollsters' measures of late have shown Blumenthal little hurt by his flubs since he was so far ahead to begin with and McMahon has her own truth problem.

Anonymous: LeAlan Jones is in the race and will be on the ballot. He's taking more support from Giannoulias, naturally, than he is Kirk, so a two-way matchup wouldn't have likely shown a brighter picture for Kirk.

Anonymous said...

wow, radical anti-Americanism from a Republican. big surprise

NRH said...

How about polling it IRV-style, even if that's not how the actual vote will be taken? Then at least you can get an estimate of how much support Jones draws from Giannoulias and Kirk (presumably, as a Green, he would draw more from Giannoulias). Then if people want to assume he'll see a dropoff in actual vote share relative to polling, they can allocate his numbers accordingly. It'd be a simple matter of adding another question - "Who do you prefer as a second choice, after your first choice?" That would provide a more useful piece of information.

DBL said...

This isn't Dick Blumenthal serving six months in South Carolina 40 years ago.

Mark Kirk has been an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve for 21 years. He did win an award, just not the one he said he did. He did serve during both Iraqi wars, just not in Iraq. Medal of Honor recipient Allen Lynch has called the controversy a bunch of nit-picking. Kirk's commanding officer calls him the best intelligence officer he's ever served with.

Giannoulias didn't serve in the military. If Giannoulias tries to make the election about Kirk's military service, Kirk will likely trot out a lot of veterans in ads talking about how he's Eisenhower, Patton, and Petraeus all rolled into one. Giannoulias will get trounced.

Giannoulias needs people to not be familiar with Kirk's actual service and just let them know that Krik is a liar and make sure they know that being a Senator isn't about military record.

wt said...

@Dustin Ingalls

Good argument that the Connecticut Senate race and the Illinois Senate race are two separate Senate races. You have definitely enlightened the thread with that comment.

I agree that the polling doesn't bear out that Blumenthal is being affected much. But your assertion that Blumenthal's situation won't affect the IL-Sen race is unfounded.

Just as the GOP has backed off the Blumenthal-is-a-liar rhetoric (and also a bill to criminalize false statements regarding military service) because it opens the "look at Kirk" retort, I would assume the Dems would be similarly shamed enough not to do it to Kirk in this race.

I am forever underestimating, however, what Democrats are not shamed by.

Anonymous said...

LeAlan Jones is an interesting character. I like the guy. Do a Google search on "Ghetto Life 101" when you've got half an hour or so to spare listening to some great audio documentary footage.

NRH said...

Blumenthal's situation was far milder than Kirk's - as further reporting has concluded, Blumenthal openly noted in his speeches that he was a reservist and did not see active duty, but those portions of his speeches were ignored by the initial article. His situation then boils down to the incompatibility of having conflated within the same speech his own admittedly-not-in-theater service with the service of troops on the front lines. Kirk, by contrast, has made no such acknowledgment and continues to claim veteran's status for himself, despite the DoD's own statements on the matter.

Further, on a more practical and cynical side, Blumenthal is a popular Democrat who has won statewide elections in a Democratic state, running against a woman who made a career out of grown men hitting each other with folding chairs and having women try to strip each other out of evening gowns. Kirk is a Republican who won district-level races in a strongly Democratic state, running against an opponent whose primary negative point was exposed early and dealt with in the media, whereas Kirk continues to deny that he lied, in the face of all evidence. McMahon will spend whatever she wants losing the race in Connecticut, but her own negatives outweigh Blumenthal's by orders of magnitude and the national party won't help her unless she can make the race competitive first. Giannoulias already has a competitive race on his hand, so the national Democratic party will assist him in bringing up the issue as often as he likes. Even if both offenses had been of similar degree, one party will seize on it and the other won't because only one race is competitive.

DBL said...

NRH, are you claiming Kirk isn't a veteran? He's been in the military since 1989 and remains a Naval reservist. He was active in the last year and is, as his commanding officer said, " the best intelligence officer I ever worked with."

The DOD has not said Kirk isn't a veteran. In fact, it's just the opposite. He was admonished for engaging in politicking while on active duty. If this race becomes all about Kirk's actual military service he wins.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that even thiugh i'm a hardcore democrat, if he were on my state's ballot, I'd vote for jones, even if he had little chance of winning.

NRH said...

It depends on which definition of 'veteran' you mean - even within the legal code and military regulations there are several. At its broadest, yes, as a member of the military for at least one moment he would count as a veteran. However, he does not qualify as a veteran of either campaign he has claimed to have participated in (Iraq or Afghanistan), nor of any other campaign, so he does not qualify as a combat veteran, which is the meaning I was considering at the time.

Very specifically, he does not qualify as a veteran to be honored under Illinois law for the purposes of the War on Terrorism Veterans Act:

(5 ILCS 635/5)
Sec. 5. War on Terrorism Veterans Memorial. A memorial honoring persons who earned (i) the Southwest Asia Service Medal, (ii) the Afghanistan Campaign Medal for service in Operation Enduring Freedom, (iii) the Iraqi Campaign Medal for service in Operation Iraqi Freedom, or (iv) the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for service in either Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom may be constructed by a private entity on a portion of the State property in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.

So as a veteran of military service, yes, he qualifies (but his many of his other claims remain verifiable falsehoods, such as claiming to command the war room or to have personally won an intelligence award, etc), but he is conclusively not a combat veteran. Fair enough?

DBL said...

He's an intelligence officer in the Naval reserves. I don't see how he could see combat. His claim of being shot at isn't while serving, although it sounds overblown. He's served in the military for 21 years. You seem to be saying that if you don't serve in combat somehow your service is somehow less. Don't call him a veteran if you want but, despite his exaggerations, he's served during a valuable military role during wars.

NRH said...

The question isn't whether I call him a combat veteran or not, or whether I consider that a different category than any other kind of veteran. The question is whether he is trying to claim that status undeservedly or not by making up claims of having been under fire in Iraq and Afghanistan. If he stuck to the facts, that would be fine. But when he embellishes his own record because he thinks he needs to show some combat experience, that's when he's making it a problem.

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