In a significant turnaround, the political pollster Rasmussen Reports has updated its projection for Illinois' governor election to give Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn the edge over Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.
As recently as July, Rasmussen's polling favored Rauner by a margin of five percentage points, showing the wealthy Winnetka investor leading Gov. Quinn 44-39 percent. Flash forward to the first week of October, and the tables have turned with Quinn two percentage points above his rival for a 44-42 percent lead.
The latest survey, targeting 750 likely voters over Sept. 24-25, echoes other recent polls revealing a shift in this uber-competitive race from Rauner toward Quinn. The former, campaigning on a vow to "shake up Springfield" and remove government corruption therein, has seen his stock drop of late amid a string of public gaffes which include an eye-popping confession to having once proposed to wipe out the minimum wage at a time when outrage over the widening wealth gap is gaining traction across the nation and around the world.
No saint himself, Quinn has bounced back with late-stage verve, casting his foe as too out of touch to relate to the average Illinoisan. He's wrangled splashy endorsements from A-list allies President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama as well as Hillary Clinton, all three of whom retain high popularity in Democratic Chicago—Quinn's core voter base and a crucial bloc in the state-wide election.
Now especially vulnerable, Rauner has added another $1.5 million of his own money into his campaign war chest and refreshed attacks on Quinn's controversial pitch to continue 2011's temporary income tax hike into the new year.
One of the most expensive and hostile gubernatorial showdowns in the country, the Quinn-Rauner race was expected to get tighter ahead of November's election. While the governor gains on Rauner, the projected outcome is still considered a toss-up, factoring in a September pro-Rauner survey by the polling service We Ask America.
"The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that we lead Pat Quinn in a new independent poll—but the survey shows the race is close," Rauner's campaign told supporters on Tuesday in an email soliciting campaign donations, reports the website Progress Illinois. "According to a new We Ask America poll, we lead Pat Quinn 44-41. We’re winning. But with Pat Quinn growing more desperate by the day, we need to fight harder than ever to keep our lead for the next 35 days."