Nearly two years into a budget stalemate and a pricey political war between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, there’s no clear winner — or loser — when it comes to the court of public opinion.
In an Illinois unpopularity contest, a new poll finds Madigan and Rauner in a statistical tie in disapproval ratings.
Three out of five voters had a negative opinion of each politician’s job performance.
While Madigan slightly edged out Rauner’s disapproval rating, 61 percent to 58 percent, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll released Wednesday has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The numbers show a precipitous drop for the Republican governor over the past two years.
His disapproval rating has grown from 31 percent in March 2015 to the current 58 percent. He now faces the lowest approval ratings he’s had since taking office, just months before he’ll launch into full campaign mode to fend off Democratic contenders. Madigan, too, will have to protect Democratic House seats next year.
In March 2016, the poll found 50 percent disapproved of the governor’s job performance. That also marked Rauner’s top approval rating of 41 percent.
In Chicago — both men are largely unpopular. Madigan, whose political base is on the city’s Southwest Side, had a 28 percent approval rating. The governor, who has a home in the northern suburbs, had a 31 percent approval rating in the city.
The poll comes as both sides continue a war over the state’s budget, leaving many in the lurch.
“Clearly, both political leaders are taking a beating with voters as the Statehouse stalemate nears the two-year mark, and the gap between the two is shrinking,” Jak Tichenor, interim director of the Simon Institute said in a statement. “It’s not good news at all for either man, both of whose political fortunes are at risk heading into next year’s elections.”
Last year, voters were inundated with campaign literature, phone calls and door knocks in legislative races — Republican efforts paid largely by Rauner and his wealthy supporters which depicted Madigan as the root cause of all the state’s woes. And Democratic efforts — paid for by allies in organized labor and personal injury attorneys — placed the target right back on Rauner and in some cases tried to tie him to Donald Trump.
The poll asked registered voters whether they approved or disapproved of the job being done by Rauner and the four legislative leaders.
Rauner polled the worst with voters in Chicago, where 64 percent disapproved of his performance. In Downstate Illinois, however, 38 percent approved and 56 percent disapproved.
In Cook and the collar counties, Madigan had a 27 percent approval rating. Downstate voters gave him the worst numbers: a 64 percent disapproval rating.
In Cook County and the collar counties, Rauner clocked in with a 58 percent disapproval rating.
A Simon poll taken last October had Madigan’s disapproval rating at 63 percent and Rauner at 55 percent.
The latest poll, conducted between March 4 and March 11, included 1,000 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Sixty percent of the poll was conducted on cellphones.
Despite their public push for a “grand bargain” package, Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno maintained neutral approval ratings in the poll. Cullerton scored 39 percent disapproval and 25 percent approval; Radogno’s approval stood at 27 percent compared with a disapproval rating of 26 percent.