Poll: Kirk Trails Duckworth in Tight Senate Race

The congresswoman edged out the senator in a recent survey, although respondents sided with Kirk on a variety of other issues

A recent poll released Monday shows Rep. Tammy Duckworth holding a slight lead over incumbent Mark Kirk in the race for his U.S. Senate seat.

The poll, which was conducted for Kirk by GS Strategy Group, surveyed 600 likely general election voters and found that nearly 43 percent of respondents chose Duckworth, while nearly 40 percent sided with Kirk. In addition to this there was a 4 percent margin of error and nearly 18 percent of voters remained undecided.

The survey also found that over 45 percent of respondents agreed that Kirk was a “thoughtful, independent leader.” Nearly 22 percent disagreed with the statement.

Aside from this, over 64 percent of the survey’s respondents said the U.S. Senate should hold hearings and a confirmation vote for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Compare this to over 31 percent of respondents who said the appointment should be left to the country’s next president

On the same subject, nearly 41 percent of respondents felt that Kirk broke with the Republican Party after he called for senate hearings and a vote on Garland. Over 12 percent of respondents felt that he didn’t break with his party, while nearly 47 percent claimed they didn’t know either way.

“The poll results crystallize the fact that Illinois voters value and respect the independent, thoughtful leadership of Sen. Kirk," Kirk spokesman Kevin Artl told Ward Room in a statement. "Meeting with Judge Garland and requesting a vote on his nomination served as yet another proof point to Senator Kirk’s independence and willingness to buck the party-line to do what he thinks is best for Illinois.” 

The survey also showed that a substantial portion of participants in the poll are extremely fearful of an imminent terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Nearly 28 percent of of respondents said it was “extremely” likely that America would be the target of another terrorist attack within the next year and over 28 percent said an attack is very “likely.” In addition to this, over 35 percent of respondents said an attack was “somewhat” likely and over 7 percent said an attack was “not likely.”

The poll also considered a variety of other hot-button political issues.

Over 59 percent of respondents to the survey said they did not support the acceptance of Syrian refugees into the U.S. following "the bombings and shootings in Belgium, Paris and California." Kirk has held a position that Syrian refugees should not be let into the country until it can be done safely. Over 35 percent of respondents were open to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the country.

61 percent of respondents supported Kirk's Syrian refugee plan, while 25 percent supported Duckworth and 14 percent remained undecided.

The poll also found that 63 percent of respondents sided with Kirk on taxes and spending, while only 20 percent sided with Duckworth and 17 percent remained undecided.

On the subject of veteran care, Kirk received 59 percent of support, while Duckworth received 21 percent. 20 percent of respondents remained undecided.

Duckworth previously worked in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Duckworth currently faces a civil lawsuit stemming from workplace retaliation allegations made by former employees in the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. The hearing for that suit was recently postponed until May 12.

Respondents to the survey also supported Kirk’s stance on Iran nuclear sanctions over Duckworth’s. 51 percent support Kirk’s initiative to place sanctions on the country in order to limit their ability to create nuclear arms. 30 percent of respondents sided with Duckworth in supporting the Iran nuclear deal, while 19 percent of respondents remained undecided on the matter.

“While the ballot test between Mark Kirk and Tammy Duckworth remains incredibly tight, the issues voters are focused on and most passionate about provide an edge to the Kirk campaign,” the memo’s conclusion reads. “Duckworth's positions on key national security issues, such as her support for allowing 200,000 Syrian refugees into the US, put her at odds with the great majority of Illinois voters.”

Nevertheless, the Duckworth team responded unfavorably to the poll conducted by Kirk’s campaign.

"What the Kirk campaign put out today is not a memo, it's a cry for help,” Duckworth spokesman Matt McGrath told Ward Room. 

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