March 02, 2018

Simon Poll: Illinois voters give top political leaders low marks

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The top three political leaders in the state and nation all got low job ratings from Illinois voters in a poll recently released by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

The SimonPoll™ shows Illinois voters disapprove of the respective job performances of President Donald Trump, Gov. Bruce Rauner, and Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. 

Trump, Rauner and Madigan each rated poorly 

Trump, Rauner and Madigan each received more negative than positive evaluations.

  • President Trump’s job approval was 26 percent “underwater,” with 36 percent positive and 62 percent negative. These totals included 54 percent who strongly disapproved; 8 percent who somewhat disapproved, 18 percent who strongly approved and 18 percent who somewhat approved of his performance in office.
  • Rauner’s job approval was 32 percent underwater. His total positive rate included 31 percent who either somewhat approved (23 percent) or strongly approved (7 percent). His total negative rating was 63 percent, with 39 percent who strongly disapproved and 24 percent who disapproved.
  • Speaker Madigan had a 21 percent approval rate with 18 percent who somewhat approve and 3 percent who strongly approve. Madigan is 68 percent total disapprove with 49 percent who strongly disapprove and 19 percent who somewhat disapprove. 

“It is notable that Gov. Rauner’s job approval in Illinois is somewhat more negative than President Trump’s. This is the opposite of the more usual finding of other polls in other states,” John Jackson of the Paul Simon Institute, one of the directors of the poll, said. 

Trump’s record could impact Republicans in statewide, legislative and congressional races

Because of Trump’s record in office, poll respondents were less likely, by a 55-27 percentage margin, to vote for a Republican for Illinois executive offices including governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. In the poll, 11 percent said they were neither more nor less likely to vote Republican. 

A similar question on whether they would vote for a Republican for U.S. Congress this year met the same results, with 57 percent saying they were less likely to vote Republican and 30 percent saying more likely. In the poll, 9 percent said neither. 

As for the Illinois General Assembly, poll respondents said they were less likely to vote for a Republican by a 56-29 percent margin, with 10 percent choosing neither. 

“The Republicans should not expect a boost in Illinois for their congressional and state legislative candidates this year from Trump’s coattails while the Democrats will try to use opposition to Trump’s record as a motivator for a higher turnout for their candidates” John T. Shaw, institute director, said. 

 Detailed poll results are available online. 

Sample size and margin of error

The margin of error for the entire sample of 1,001 voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. This means that if we conducted the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances, the population proportion would be within plus or minus the reported margin of error for each subsample. 

For subsamples, the margin of error increases as the sample size goes down. The margin of error was not adjusted for design effects. Among self-identified primary election voters, the margin is plus or minus 6 percentage points in the 259-voter sample of Republicans, and 4.5 percentage points in the sample of 472 Democrats. 

Polling methodology

Live telephone interviews were conducted by Customer Research International of San Marcos, Texas using the random digit dialing method. The telephone sample was provided to Customer Research International by Scientific Telephone Samples. 

Potential interviewees were screened based on whether they were registered voters and with quotas based on area code and sex (< 60 percent female). The sample obtained 51 percent male and 49 percent female respondents. 

Interviewers asked to speak to the youngest registered voter at home at the time of the call. Cellphone interviews accounted for 60 percent of the sample. A Spanish language version of the questionnaire and a Spanish-speaking interviewer were made available. 

Fieldwork was from Feb. 19 through Feb. 25. No auto-dial or “robo” polling is included. Customer Research International reports no Illinois political clients. The survey was paid for with non-tax dollars from the institute’s endowment fund. 

The data was not weighted in any way. Crosstabs for the referenced questions will be on the institute’s polling website,

Polling data available for use by scholars and the public

The institute is a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative. AAPOR works to encourage objective survey standards for practice and disclosure. Membership in the Transparency Initiative reflects a pledge to practice transparency in reporting survey-based findings. 

The Institute’s polling data are also archived by four academic institutions for use by scholars and the public. The four open source data repositories are:

Note: The “Simon Poll” and the “Southern Illinois Poll” are the copyrighted trademarks of the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University. Use and publication of these polls is encouraged - but only with credit to the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale.