By Shia Kapos with Garrett Ross
THE BUZZ: A new independent poll shows Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker with a commanding 16-percentage-point lead over incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. The survey, conducted by NBC News/Marist, has 46 percent of registered Illinois voters backing Pritzker, compared to 30 percent supporting Rauner. Libertarian nominee Kash Jackson is at 6 percent in the poll, and third-party candidate Sam McCann is at 4 percent.
The campaigns outwardly appeared nonchalant about the numbers. With two months remaining before the general election, they don’t want to hyperventilate about polling.
Pritzker campaign manager Anne Caprara tweeted a reminder to supporters: “DON’T GET COMPLACENT, PEOPLE.”
And Rauner campaign spokesman Alex Browning said: “We are focused on the issues that matter most to voters in Illinois. No poll can change the fact that J.B.Pritzker and Mike Madigan stand for higher taxes and more corruption.”
Still, 16 points is a lot of ground for Rauner to cover.
The poll shows he faces an electorate that by a 2-to-1 margin has a negative opinion of him. And his challenger is a billionaire with the deepest of pockets. Pritzker should expect no less than a double-digit lead given he’s sunk $127 million of his own money into the race — and it’s only August.
Very soon, Rauner will have to do some hard thinking about how much of his personal money he’s willing to put into a race that might not be winnable. The Republican Governors Association certainly won’t spend precious dollars on a rich guy who’s down double digits in a blue state.
What’s for certain is the vitriol in the campaign will continue. A political insider expects it will boil down this way: Rauner will hammer at long-serving House Speaker Mike Madigan on higher taxes—while using loaded words like “corrupt” and unethical.” And Pritzker and Democrats will say Rauner has failed.
Rauner is less popular than President Donald Trump. Thirty percent of Illinoisans have a favorable view of Trump, according to the NBC News/Marist poll, compared with Rauner’s 26 percent. Pritzker is at 38 percent in the poll.
How Trump supporters lean. The poll notes that 58% of Trump voters in Cook County support Pritzker vs. 21 percent for Rauner. More interesting, 43 percent of central/downstate Trump voters say they’ll vote for Pritzker vs. 33 percent supporting Rauner.
The fallout: A top of the ticket blowout could have serious down-ballot implications, especially for central and downstate congressional and state legislative races. Good example: Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bost in the 12th or U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in the 13th District.
— Poll: Democrat leads expensive race for Illinois governor, by NBC News/Marist: In the billionaire-versus-multimillionaire contest for Illinois governor, Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker leads incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by 16 points. Here’s the poll and here’s the story.