Is Bill Brady beginning to learn the pitfalls of being Bill Brady?
Brady may have thought he would cruise into the governor’s mansion on the strength of Pat Quinn’s weaknesses -- a $13 billion deficit, a promise to raise taxes, a disorganized staff. Quinn is an unpopular governor. But now that Quinn has defined Brady as a tax-dodgin’, Porsche-drivin’, Tea Partyin’, gay-bashin’ right-winger from the cornfields of Bloomington, Illinois, (population 74,975 -- Sa-LUTE!), he’s turning out to be an unpopular challenger.
For months, Brady’s campaign had all the momentum and acceleration of a finely-tuned German sports car pulling away from a dumpy Chevy. But now, according to numerous polls, it’s a bumper-to-bumper race. A Chicago Tribune poll released today shows Quinn actually leading Brady 39-38.
“Brady’s early advantage in the Illinois governor race has evaporated as voters have gotten to know him a bit better and grown to like Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn a bit more,” the Tribune’s Rick Pearson wrote. “Quinn has hammered his lesser-known downstate opponent with TV attack ads asking ‘Who is this guy?’ and the poll indicates the strategy is paying dividends.”
The poll found that Quinn is picking up more support from Democrats and African-Americans, and is tied with Brady in the collar counties, where Illinois’s swing voters live.
The close race in the suburbs is “hugely significant,” writes Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller. “Huge.”
Miller adds, “the reason I say this looks like a trend is that we have now seen four polls released this week which put the race in single digits. Three of the four are public, one is private, except for subscribers. And three of those four polls have this as a one or two-point race.”
“Illinois voters may be casting about for alternatives to the choices the two-party system has offered up, and the fact that Cohen is running as an independent may be attracting some voters,” CNN polling director Keating Holland said. “Add in the Green Party candidate and nearly one in five voters are currently opting for a candidate without a ‘D’ or ‘R’ after his name.”
Why is that? Let’s look at this week’s other poll, from Public Policy Polling, Inc. It shows Brady ahead 42-35, which should be good news. But it also shows that 44 percent of voters view him unfavorably, while 36 percent view him favorably. Those numbers aren’t as bad as Quinn’s (he has a 60 percent disapproval rate), but they’ve been getting worse as the campaign goes on.
Even the conservative rah-rah blog Illinois Review is worried, speculating that Cohen could cost Brady the race by attracting voters who don’t like Quinn but don’t want to vote for a full-on conservative, either.
The election forecaster fivethirtyeight.com still gives Brady a 90 percent chance of winning, but Public Policy Polling sums up the race best:
If you allocate all of the undecideds who voted for Obama to Quinn and the ones who voted for McCain to Brady, the Brady lead shrinks to 44-43. My guess is that most of the undecideds will indeed end up in the Quinn camp and make this a much closer race. Quinn's path with the Whitney and Cohen voters is tougher though and he needs to hope those folks' dislike of him isn't so strong that they'll go so far as to vote for Brady to get him out.
This is a pretty fascinating race.
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