Rauner Has a Comfortable Lead Over Ives in GOP Primary, Poll Shows

A Republican primary poll released Wednesday had a bit of sunshine for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in an otherwise dreary month.

Rauner leads his opponent state Rep. Jeanne Ives by more than 50 percentage points in name recognition and 40 points in voting likelihood, according to the survey conducted by polling firm We Ask America.

Sixty-eight percent of Illinois Republicans surveyed said they have never heard of Ives, the poll found.

Rauner has name recognition well over 99 percent among those surveyed, a 65 percent favorability rating, and was also projected to win 65 percent of the vote if the GOP primary was held at the time of the poll.

Just under 15 percent of voters are undecided, according to We Ask America.

The governor’s good news came after a bumpy stretch of scandals and missteps from the Rauner camp in recent weeks. Last month, he was criticized widely for his administration's handling of a Legionnaires' outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, where 13 people have died since 2015.

Then on Monday, Rauner fumbled in answering a question about whether former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is racist - raising eyebrows and drawing considerable blowback.

The blow to Ives arrived less than a week after she won a straw poll of the Chicago Republican Party by an overwhelming 17-3 vote.

Ives said she entered the race following Rauner's decision to sign into law a measure to allow Illinois to cover abortions for state employees and Medicaid recipients, as well as to keep abortion legal in Illinois should the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade be overturned.

Ives' gubernatorial campaign responded to the poll Wednesday with skepticism, arguing it was common sense that a sitting governor of three years would be ahead at this point of the race.

"His inch deep support will dissipate quickly once GOP voters are aware of the choice they have," a spokesman for the campaign said in a statement.

The poll was conducted between Jan. 14 and 16 by phone using both automated and live callers to contact 1,026 likely Republican voters, according to We Ask America.

Just under half of the responses were from cell phones, according to the polling firm, which has a “C” rating from FiveThirtyEight in “the historical accuracy of each firm’s polls along with its methodology.”

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