October 17, 2014

Poll: Illinois gubernatorial race ‘tied’

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Democrat Illinois Governor Pat Quinn enjoys a two and one-half point lead among registered voters over Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, according to the latest statewide poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

However, when likely voters are asked for their preference, Rauner holds the two-point lead. 

“It’s a tied race,” David Yepsen, institute director, said.  “No one can predict from these numbers who will win. It’s likely to be close on election night and every vote will be important.” 

  • Among registered voters, the survey shows 41.2 percent favoring or leading toward Quinn and 38.6 percent favoring or leaning toward Rauner. Libertarian Chad Grimm had 4.5 percent supporting or leaning toward his candidacy.
  • However, among the 691 respondents considered likely voters, Rauner holds a slim lead:  He gets 42.4 percent, Quinn has 40.7 percent and 3.0 percent are for Grimm. 

The full sample of registered voters has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.  The smaller likely voter sample has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points. That means both leads are within margins for error, hence a statistical tie. 

Among the 1,006 registered voters surveyed, Republicans held the edge in voter enthusiasm, with 49.8 percent saying they were more enthusiastic to vote than usual, compared with barely one-third, 31.4 percent of Democrats and 29.5 percent of Independents. 

On the other hand, Democrats held the edge in the generic vote for the U.S. House of Representatives, with 46.6 percent favoring or leaning toward the Democratic House candidate and just 33.1 percent leaning toward the Republican candidate. Among likely voters, the margin shrank to 43.3 percent for the generic Democrat and 37.6 percent for the Republican. 

“If every vote is important, then Republicans have the easier turnout task, since their folks are clearly more excited about the election,” Yepsen said. 

Consistent with other polling in Illinois this election season, there appears to be less suspense in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois, with 48.9 percent supporting or leaning toward Democratic incumbent Dick Durbin and 32.3 percent favoring or leaning toward Republican challenger Jim Oberweis. For Libertarian candidate Sharon Hansen, 4.9 percent were supporters or “leaners.” 

Among those considered likely voters, the margin shrank to 46.9 percent for Durbin, 36.5 percent for Oberweis, and 4.2 percent for Hansen. 

Geographic, gender, and race differences shake out as expected. 

  • In the full sample, Quinn leads Rauner in the city of Chicago 56.5 percent to 28.0 percent, and in suburban Chicago 42.4 percent to 37.8 percent. Rauner leads handily downstate, 46.9 percent to 29.0 percent. Remember that smaller subgroups have larger margins for error.
  • Among women in the full sample, Quinn leads 46.4 percent to 32.7 percent, while Rauner leads among men 44.4 percent to 35.9 percent.
  • Among black voters in the sample, Quinn leads substantially, 84.9 percent to Rauner’s 6.2 percent. Among whites, Rauner leads 46.7 percent to 32.3 percent. 

“Our survey provides a very interesting look at a dramatic election season,” said Charlie Leonard, one of the Simon Institute visiting professors supervising the poll. “The Republicans have the edge in enthusiasm while Democrats have more partisans. 

“As with all polls, we should be careful not to over-interpret. On the plus side, this is a large-sample, live-interviewer, telephone survey, with random-digit dialing and 30 percent cell phone interviews. 

“On the other hand, we should also keep in mind that these ‘horse race’ questions were part of a 20-minute interview focused on mostly policy questions, and we were in the field for three weeks. We can’t know the extent to which voter preference was fluid during that period.” 

The survey asked two questions to determine whether an individual respondent was a “likely” voter: first, whether they were certain to vote, and second, whether they knew the exact location of their polling place. Almost 70 percent, 691 registered voters gave both of those responses. 

For more information, contact Yepsen or John S. Jackson, visiting professor at the institute, at 618/453-4003. 

Results of the poll are available here

The Simon Institute Poll interviewed 1,006 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 likely voter sample of 691 interviews has a margin for error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. 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.  Fieldwork was conducted from Sept. 23 through Oct. 15. Customer Research International reports no Illinois political clients.  The survey was paid for with non-tax dollars from the Institute’s endowment fund. 

Cross tabs for the referenced questions will be on the institute’s website, paulsimoninstitute.siu.edu

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.