Is the Mass. Race a Harbinger for Illinois?

Mark Kirk trails by just a few percentage points.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    These two candidates will likely battle it out for Obama's old senate seat.

    In what political observers are calling a stunning upset, Republican Scott Brown won a special election for Ted Kennedy’s long-held Massachusetts senate seat last night.

    The victory left President Obama, who jumped in to campaign for beleaguered Democrat Martha Coakley at the last minute, with egg on his face.

    But if you think that was bad, imagine the fallout if the president allows his old Illinois senate seat to land into the hands of the Republicans.

    The idea is not without merit.

    Illinoisans could revolt against a lackluster Democratic party that has given them side-show candidates like Roland Burris and endured scandals of Blagovian proportions, according to some recent polls.

    Case in point: the Democratic candidate for Treasurer, Alexi Giannoulias, holds only a narrow primary lead over the likely Republican nominee, Congressman Mark Kirk.

    A Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters, taken in December, shows Giannoulias beating Kirk by just three percentage points with a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

    If Giannoulias somehow manages to lose the nomination to either of his challengers -- Cheryle Jackson or David Hoffman -- the outlook would become even dimmer for the Democrats.

    The same Rasmussen poll has Kirk beating the other two viable Democratic senate candidates.

    Real Clear Politics, a web site collects polling data and gives an average of the results, gives Giannoulias a 3.6 percentage point edge, which is alarmingly close for a blue state.

    It's not as if the White House isn't paying attention, either. Giannoulias, Hoffman and Jackson have had sit-downs with Obama's political guru David Axelrod.

    There is a chance that Illinois could elect a Republican, too.

    Imagine that.