In the Illinois governors' race, it seems voters would rather go with the one they know over the one untested.
Gov. Pat Quinn takes the lead in a revealing new survey from the Chicago Tribune that shows the embattled Democrat out-polling Republican challenger Bruce Rauner despite voter dissatisfaction with his performance.
The conservative-leaning paper, which hosted a no-holds-barred non-debate debate between Quinn and Rauner last week, reports the incumbent with 48 percent of the vote and Rauner with 37 percent. Eight percent of survey-takers said they were undecided. Five percent backed Libertarian contender Chad Grimm, who may have stolen away some Rauner votes.
"Although the survey shows voters think Rauner is better equipped to deal with state government's massive financial problems, it also indicates that Quinn has been able to paint the wealthy Republican equity investor as out of touch," writes the Tribune's Rick Pearson. "And despite a summer filled with reports on Quinn administration scandals involving state grants and patronage hiring, voters view the governor as more trustworthy than his opponent."
Among the findings: Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said they consider Quinn to be more "in touch" than Rauner; 30 percent disagreed, favoring the Winnetka businessman. Asked whom they trust the most, 37 percent sided with Quinn and 26 percent with Rauner. At the same time, 49 percent disapprove of Quinn's job as governor; just 36 percent approve.
In Rauner's favor, 44 percent deemed the Republican more competent than Quinn in managing the state's financial woes; 35 percent backed Quinn over Rauner.
These numbers signal a stunning shift from four weeks ago when Rauner confidently rode into the Illinois State Fair on his Harley, basking in the momentum of a successful grassroots campaign embraced by government-fatigued Illinoisians and the domino effect of national pollsters tipping the Nov. 4 election in his favor.
Despite his best efforts to present himself as Everyguy, Rauner—a political rookie prone to foot-in-mouth disease—has given Team Quinn ample fodder with which to cast the multi-millionaire businessman as inherently oblivious to the day-to-day struggles of those who could never afford to belong to an $140,000 wine-of-the-month club. (Case in point: Rauner's previous pitch to eliminate the minimum wage altogether.)
Last week a Democratic poll revealed Quinn having the edge for the first time in the gubernatorial showdown, harkening a shifting tide in the court of public opinion.
The Trib expects the gap to narrow closer to Election Day but said "poll results indicate the need for (Rauner) to recalculate his campaign strategy — particularly in the traditionally Republican-leaning collar counties."
Rauner and his GOP supporters recently emphasized the importance of grabbing votes in Democrat-skewing Chicago in order to destabilize Quinn's stronghold in the state's most powerful voting bloc and sway the race outside the Windy City. On the suburban front, he's vowing to freeze property taxes and touting his liberal stance social issues in a commercial targeting women.
Not surprisingly, the Trib's survey found Quinn prevailing in Chicago and the Cook County 'burbs. Meanwhile, Rauner leads 44-39 percent in surrounding "collar" counties such as Kane, DuPage and Will, as well as 48-36 percent in traditionally Republican downstate Illinois.