Pritzker beats Rauner in new poll — but ‘undecided’ and ‘somebody else’ beat both

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Gov. Bruce Rauner, left, and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker, right. | File photos

According to a recent Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll, Democrat J.B. Pritzker leads Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in the race for governor by nine points, 36-27, with 26 percent choosing an unnamed third-party candidate and 11 percent undecided.

In other words, slightly more people say they prefer a third-party candidate and/or are undecided than support the front-runner, Pritzker.


The partisan breakdown of respondents was 41 percent Democratic, 34 percent Republican and 25 percent saying they were independent. So, the two candidates have a ways to go to even convince members of their own parties to stand with them.

A full 36 percent of Republicans were still either undecided (9 percent) or chose a third-party candidate (27 percent), while 27 percent of Democrats were either undecided (6) or said they were backing a third-party candidate (21).

It’s seems unlikely that a quarter of voters will wind up going third-party on Election Day, but, hey, one never knows. Respondents who said they’re with an unnamed third-party candidate might be just temporarily parking themselves there before “coming home” in November. But these results also show deep dissatisfaction with both candidates, and that can’t be great news for the front-runner Pritzker.

Then again, I’d take his results over Rauner’s any day.

If you take a look at the attorney general candidates, you’ll see the exact same nine-point spread between the two. Sen. Kwame Raoul leads Republican Erika Harold 44-35. Pollster Gregg Durham said he considers these to be a generic ballot test. We didn’t poll a third-party candidate in that race.

According to the poll of 600 likely voters, 56 percent have an unfavorable opinion of President Donald Trump while 39 percent have a favorable view. That’s the exact same 56-39 split from the 2016 presidential results here.

So, why do these top-of-the-ballot races have single-digit margins in a “wave” year like this? Do Rauner and Harold have a shot?

Pritzker has spent an absolute fortune, but it’s only June and he’s been hit with a lot of negatives since January. And keep in mind that a hobbled, unpopular Gov. Rod Blagojevich won by about 10 points during the last off-year “blue wave” in 2006 — which is right about where these races are.

One important Illinois-centric variable could be House Speaker Michael Madigan, who, it turns out, is just as or even more unpopular in Illinois as Trump. A very high 60 percent of likely Illinois voters said they have an unfavorable view of Madigan, while 39 percent have a favorable view.

A whopping 63 percent of independents or third-party voters have an unfavorable view of Madigan, which is higher than the 59 percent who have the same view of Trump. Fifty-six percent of women and 62 percent of men have an unfavorable view of the House Speaker (Trump’s split was 60/51).

Back to the governor’s race, where 37 percent of respondents have a favorable view of Gov. Rauner, while a solid majority of 55 percent have an unfavorable view.

The poll taken June 9-11, with a margin of error of +/-3.99 percent, found that 43 percent have a favorable opinion of J.B. Pritzker while 39 percent have an unfavorable view.

64 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of Rauner, but 29 percent still have an unfavorable opinion of him and 8 percent were undecided, so the governor still has a ways to go after barely winning the March GOP primary.

The poll found that 67 percent of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Pritzker, while 17 percent have an unfavorable view. Pritzker has a bit of catching up to do on his side.

Rauner is underwater with just about every demographic. Fifty-seven percent of collar county voters and 59 percent of suburban Cook County voters have an unfavorable opinion of the governor. It’s closer Downstate, where he’s underwater by two points, 44 to 46.

Pritzker leads Rauner everywhere except Downstate. Pritzker’s ahead 53-13 in Chicago (that’s actually not a horrible number for Rauner), he has about a 10-point lead in suburban Cook, and he’s up 33-28 in the collars. Rauner has just a three-point 33-30 lead Downstate, which is not great for him.

Rauner leads Pritzker by 2 points among the 65+ crowd, but Pritzker leads in all other age groups. Whites are with Pritzker 33-31 and men lean Pritzker 34-28, which is surprisingly good news for the Democrat.

Again, I’d much rather have Pritzker’s numbers than Rauner’s, but the governor is not totally out of it yet.

Democrats have been spiking the ball ever since the primary. They need to get to work.

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