In the most compelling Illinois race this cycle, Mark and Alexi Giannoulias look like they'll battle it out for President Obama's old senate seat.
A new Public Policy Poll released today shows Giannoulias leading Kirk, 31 percent to 30 percent. Those are terrible numbers for major party candidates. What’s really shocking is that a significant number of respondents say they plan to vote for a candidate they’ve never heard of: LeAlan Jones, the Green Party nominee.
Jones got 14 percent in the poll, even though 84 percent of voters say they have no opinion of him.
“The beneficiary of the voter disgust with both Giannoulias and Kirk is Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones,” writes Tom Jensen on Public Policy Polling’s blog. “Despite being viewed favorably by only 2% of voters in the state he's pulling 14% in the horse race. Posing a particular problem for Giannoulias is that Jones is getting a remarkable 26% of the black vote right now.”
Jones is the 30-year-old linebacker coach of the Simeon High School football team. He first gained acclaim when he was 13, as one of the subjects of the WBEZ documentary “Ghetto Life 101,” a radio diary about growing up on the South Side. The series became the basis for a book, Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago. It began, “My name is LeAlan Jones, I am thirteen years old, and I live with my family in a house around the corner from the Ida B. Wells.”
The Green Party’s existence in Illinois is another legacy of Rod Blagojevich’s colorful governorship. The Greens won ballot status in 2006, when gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney received 10 percent of the vote, mostly from liberals who couldn’t bring themselves to support Hot Rod. They’re now becoming a haven for voters who can’t stand either of the major party candidates.
As a result of their mudslinging, Kirk and Giannoulias are not only tied in support, they’re tied in disgust: 31 percent of voters have an unfavorable opinion of each candidate.
Kirk’s negative rating is up 8 points, as a result of allegations that he lied about his military record. According to the poll, only 10 percent of voters think Kirk has been truthful about his Navy service.
“It’s hard to see this race as anything but a pure tossup at this juncture but in Illinois a race between a flawed Democrat and a flawed Republican is probably going to end up in the Democratic column,” Jensen writes.
It’s a stalemate of mutual loathing. Vote for the candidate you mistrust the least.
At least the winner won’t be as hated as the man he’s replacing. Roland Burris has a 54 percent disapproval rating.