March 04, 2014

Poll: Rauner has edge; no GOP favorite vs. Quinn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- In the Republican primary race for Illinois governor, Winnetka investment banker Bruce Rauner maintains a comfortable lead over his three rivals, according to the latest statewide poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

Another set of questions suggests Gov. Pat Quinn could be in trouble for re-election, but shows there is no clear favorite among the Republican candidates. 

Of the 1,001 Illinois registered voters interviewed, 295 indicated that they would vote in the March 18 primary, and of those Republican voters, 32.5 percent said they would be voting for or leaning toward Rauner.  Another 12.2 percent said they would vote or lean toward state Sen. Bill Brady, 10.9 percent for state Sen. Kirk Dillard, and 9.8 percent for Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford. More than one-third of respondents, 34.6 percent, were undecided. The margin for error in the Republican primary subsample is plus or minus 5.7 percentage points. 

“There are a couple ways to look at these numbers,” said David Yepsen, institute director. “Yes, Rauner is ahead, and that's probably due to all the money he's spent on advertising. Yet for all that money, the largest bloc of Republicans remain undecided. And looking at Republicans as a whole, two-thirds of them are either undecided or want someone else besides him. He may well win the primary because none of the other candidates are rallying the anti-Rauner vote.” 

The survey, conducted Feb. 12-25, also asked the full sample of voters a series of questions pitting each of the Republican candidates against Quinn, and came up with similar results. The margins, while small, were largest for Dillard, whose advantage over Quinn was 40.2 to 36.5 percent. Brady’s advantage over Quinn was a slim 39.8 to 37.3 percent, while Rauner’s advantage was 40.1 to 38.0 percent. Only Rutherford trailed Quinn in the matchups, by a tiny margin of 38.4 to 37.7 percent. The margin for error in the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. 

“This looks more like a ‘Quinn/not Quinn’ referendum than a clear preference for any single Republican candidate,” said Charlie Leonard, the institute visiting professor who supervised the poll. “In each of the four hypothetical general election matchups, about 60 percent of Democrats stuck with Quinn, and about 70 percent of Republicans chose whichever Republican we were asking about.” 

Fieldwork began two days after a former Treasurer’s employee filed a lawsuit against Rutherford, alleging harassment and forced campaign work on state time. 

“That episode of the campaign is taking its toll on Rutherford. He’s now running in fourth place,” Yepsen said. 

For more information, contact Leonard at 618/303-9099 or Yepsen at 618/453-4003. 

Results of the poll are available here

The 2014 Simon Poll interviewed 1,001 registered voters across Illinois. It has a margin for error of plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. This means that if we were to conduct the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances the results would vary by no more than plus or minus 3 points from the results obtained here. The margin for error will be larger for demographic, geographic and response subgroups. 

Live telephone interviews were conducted by Customer Research International of San Marcos, Texas. Cell phone interviews accounted for 30 percent of the sample. A Spanish language version of the questionnaire and a Spanish-speaking interviewer were made available. Customer Research International reports no Illinois political clients. The survey was paid for with non-tax dollars from the Institute’s endowment fund. 

Note: The “Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Poll,” 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.