Updated.…WASHINGTON—Rep. Brad Schneider D-Ill. faces some deep challenges in his November rematch with former Rep. Bob Dold R-Ill., according to a new poll conducted by a GOP allied outside group.
In the head to head matchup, Schneider and Dold are deadlocked within the margin of error of the poll, commissioned by the American Action Network. The survey put Dold at 42 percent to Schneider at 39 percent with 19 percent not sure of a choice.
A telling finding of the poll was the potential drag of Gov. Pat Quinn, running at the top of the Democratic ticket: In the 10th district, the poll put GOP nominee Bruce Rauner at 49 percent to 37 percent for Democrat Quinn with 14 percent not sure.
Also, President Barack Obama has a 44 percent job approval rating in the 10th district with 46 percent saying they disapprove and 10 percent not sure.
The rivals are battling for the north suburban 10th congressional seat, which Dold narrowly lost in 2012 after serving a single term: In 2012, Schneider won with 50.63 percent of the vote, holding Dold to 49.37 percent. (Schneider drew 133,890 votes; Dold, 130,564)
It is the biggest House race in the Chicago area and one drawing major attention from the GOP and Democratic House political shops and third party groups.
Harper Polling, a Republican firm, conducted the automated telephone survey of 400 likely voters on June 24-25.
The demographic breakdown of the poll: The partisan split was 34 percent Republican, 38 percent Democrat, and 28 percent independent. The poll tilted toward the older voter; 68 percent of those polled were age 50 and up. Females were 53 percent of those surveyed to 47 percent male.
The margin of error: plus or minus 4.9 percent.
American Action Network shared some of the poll with me. The group is poised to be a player in the 10th contest in 2014. It’s a race the American Action Network is closely watching.
In 2012, its sister organization, the Congressional Leadership Fund, spent $830,000 in independent expenditures for TV and digital advertising to help Dold.
Schneider is vulnerable because in his second year as a House member, a large number of poll respondents—44 percent—have no opinion of how he is handling his job, with 28 percent approving and 28 percent disapproving.
Asked if Schneider has earned re-election, no matter who runs against him, 41 percent were not sure with 27 percent yes and 32 percent no.
That means that the Dold forces will have an advantage if they define Schneider in filling in the perceived gaps of information.
Both Dold and Schneider through the years have portrayed themselves as moderates , independent of party leaders and not particularly partisan. Whether voters see it that way is what the campaign will be about as it heats up this summer.
American Action tested several potential “messages” that could be used against Schneider. American Action did not test messages for Dold because what they do mainly is run negative ads.
In a series of the message questions, respondents were asked if they were more or less likely to vote for a candidate—not named—after hearing these statements:
*The candidate calls himself a moderate but then campaigns with Nancy Pelosi and the chair of the Democratic National Committee.
More likely 32 percent
Less likely 45 percent
Not sure 23 percent
The candidate claims to be independent but votes with party leadership 90 percent of the time.
More likely 15 percent
Less likely 43 percent
Not sure 41 percent.
Harper Polling President Brock McCleary said in a June 30 memo about the poll findings, in Illinois 10, “the race for Congress is as competitive as they come in the country.” And unlike in 2012, Schneider “will not benefit from a presidential election turnout model and a popular home-state President at the top of the ticket. That is bad news for an incumbent with a 28 percent job approval rating among likely voters.”
REACTION FROM SCHNEIDER CAMPAIGN MANAGER JAMIE PATTON
“It comes as no surprise that a republican SuperPAC would deliver a poll designed to boost Dold, a reliable Republican who voted to turn the Medicare guarantee into a voucher system, roll back environmental protections, defund Planned Parenthood and limit women’s access to lifesaving care,” Patton said.