"As Tight as the Rusted Lug Nuts on a '55 Ford" - NBC Chicago
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"As Tight as the Rusted Lug Nuts on a '55 Ford"



    (Published Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012)

    We’re going to have to turn to that great Texan Dan Rather to describe how close the race between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias is. We Chicagoans just don’t have the folksy vocabulary to carry it off.

    On Election Night 2000, Rather called the presidential race “as tight as the rusted lug nuts on a ’55 Ford” and “tight like a too-small bathing suit on a too-long ride home from the beach.”

    And so it is with Kirk and Giannoulias. A Rasmussen Reports poll released today gave Giannoulias a statistically insignificant two point lead, putting him ahead of Kirk 43 percent to 41 percent. The website fivethirtyeight.com, which polls the pollsters, rates Illinois as the closest Senate election in the nation, giving Giannoulias a 51 percent chance of beating Kirk. Earlier this year, Giannoulias trailed badly, and was almost given up for dead by the Democrats after the feds seized his family’s bank. Now, he’s in the lead. As Dan would say, “You talk about a ding-dong, knock-down, get-up race.”

    According to the survey, Giannoulias has done a slightly better job of holding on to his base, but Kirk has a big lead among independents:

    Kirk carries 74% of conservative voters in the state, while 79% of liberals support Giannoulias. Moderates favor the Democrat by a 47% to 35% margin.

    Forty-four percent (44%) say Kirk’s views are in the mainstream, but 30% say they are extreme. Forty-two percent (42%) view Giannoulias in the mainstream, while 33% say he’s extreme.

    Seven percent (7%) of Illinois voters hold a Very Favorable opinion of Giannoulias, while 25% view him Very Unfavorably.

    Kirk is viewed Very Favorably by 10% and Very Unfavorably by 14%.

    Kirk holds a modest lead among male voters, and Giannoulias has a similar lead among women. Voters not affiliated with either major party prefer the Republican by nearly 20 points.

    Some other good news for Giannoulias: 55 percent of Illinois voters approve of the job Obama is doing. That’s much higher than the national average, and has held steady, even though Obama’s approval rating has declined nationally.

    Still, we’re not ready to make any predictions on this race. As Dan once said, “If you try to read the tea leaves before the cup is done you can get yourself burned.”