Friday, October 01, 2010

Poll Watch: Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV Illinois Senatorial Survey

Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV Illinois Senatorial Survey
  • Mark Kirk (R) 44% [36%] (34%)
  • Alexi Giannoulias (D) 41% [38%] (34%)
  • LeAlan Jones (G) 5% [5%] (6%)
  • Mike Labno (L) 4% [3%] (3%)
  • Undecided 7% [17%] (22%)
Favorable / Unfavorable {Net}
  • Mark Kirk 31% [23%] (25%) / 31% [32%] (19%) {0%}
  • Alexi Giannoulias 27% [31%] (22%) / 40% [31%] (28%) {-13%}
Survey of 700 registered voters was conducted October 18-22, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 3.7 percentage points.  Results from the poll conducted September 24-28, 2010 are in square brackets.  Results from the poll conducted August 28 - September 1, 2010 are in parentheses.

Inside the numbers:

In the Republican-leaning collar counties, Kirk now holds a 55 percent to 30 percent edge over Giannoulias. That's up from Kirk's 43 percent to 36 percent edge in late September.

Kirk's support among independents increased from 38 percent to 50 percent, the poll showed, while Giannoulias' backing among unaligned voters was relatively stagnant at about 28 percent. During that time period, the number of undecided independent voters dropped from 22 percent to 8 percent — with Kirk picking up virtually all of those deciding on a candidate.

Trust has been a central campaign theme on both sides, and voters' views on the two candidates have changed since the end of last month. Back then, 35 percent of voters considered Giannoulias more honest and trustworthy, compared with 30 percent for Kirk. The latest survey showed 36 percent of voters felt Kirk was more honest and trustworthy, compared with 31 percent for Giannoulias.

Independent voters have been viewing Giannoulias more dimly the last few weeks, and he is viewed unfavorably by 52 percent, up from 35 percent. At the same time, independents now view Kirk more favorably than unfavorably — 34 percent to 28 percent. Another 30 percent still don't know what to make of the five-term congressman.

Independents also view Kirk as more honest and trustworthy than Giannoulias, 38 percent to 24 percent. Still, reflecting the negativity that has engulfed the contest, more than 1 in 4 independents say neither candidate is more honest and trustworthy than the other.

Though Kirk's socially moderate positions in his North Shore district made some conservatives uncomfortable in the February primary, Republicans have moved strongly to support him. Kirk repudiated an early vote in support of carbon-based emissions trading that conservatives consider an energy tax, sought backing from unsuccessful 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and has stressed support of fiscal conservatism.

Though Giannoulias and Democrats have sought to mock those positions, they have only engendered more support for Kirk in his own party. Republicans who said they're going to vote for Kirk jumped from 76 percent to 86 percent since the last poll.

The poll showed potential avenues where Giannoulias can grow support — if he can get Democrats motivated. Concerns of a post-2008 letdown have prompted Obama to make two visits back home to Chicago to help Giannoulias and other Democrats, with a third trip planned for Saturday.

Only two-thirds of voters in predominantly Democratic Chicago back Giannoulias' candidacy, a gain of less than 5 percentage points from late September, while 15 percent of city voters said they were undecided. At the same time, in increasingly Democratic suburban Cook County, Giannoulias carries a slim 49 percent to 43 percent advantage over Kirk.

Kirk holds a strong 15 percentage-point advantage among men, and Giannoulias has an 8 percentage-point edge among women across the state. But the two men each have the support of 43 percent of a key voting demographic: white suburban women who tend to be social moderates.

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