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Poll: Illinois voters like term limits, redistricting changes

Gov. Bruce Rauner participates in a Republican rally during Governors Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield in August. (AP File Photo/Seth Perlman)

Illinois voters overwhelmingly support term limits and changing how the state draws political boundaries — two key items on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, a new poll released Wednesday shows.

The poll of 865 likely voters, conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, found more than 80 percent of those surveyed favored a constitutional amendment limiting the number of terms a state representative or state senator can serve. Only 17 percent opposed.

Voters were also asked whether they support an amendment to establish an independent commission to draw legislative district lines. About 72 percent of those polled supported the idea, with 18 percent opposed.

The Simon Institute said it has polled the redistricting question since 2010, and the support this year is at a “record high.”

A sharply divided Illinois Supreme Court ruled in late August that a voter referendum seeking to change how the state draws political boundaries was unconstitutional — a decision Gov. Bruce Rauner blasted as “an affront to our democracy.”

The ruling, which means the referendum can’t appear on the November ballot, affirmed a Cook County judge’s decision that the proposal violated provisions of the state constitution.

The Supreme Court ruling fell along partisan lines, with the four Democratic justices voting to affirm, and the three Republicans dissenting.

The decision was a blow to Rauner, who has argued that redistricting must be reformed to restore public confidence in government.

Another Simon poll released Wednesday shows Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth with a double-digit lead in her bid to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk.

Meanwhile, another Democratic challenger, Susana Mendoza, also is ahead in the state in the race for state comptroller against incumbent Leslie Munger.

The poll has Duckworth leading Kirk, 48 percent to 34 percent, with 10 percent undecided. Libertarian candidate Kent McMillen was at 3 percent and Green Party candidate Scott Summers had 2 percent. The poll has a 3.3 percentage point margin of error, according to an Institute news release.

In the comptroller’s race, Mendoza, the Chicago city clerk, was preferred by 40 percent of those polled, to 32 percent for Munger, who is running to retain the seat Rauner appointed her to after the death of Judy Baar Topinka. There is, however, a large 22 percent of voters who remain undecided in that race, according to the Institute.

The election poll results were announced Tuesday. It was conducted from Sept. 27 through Oct. 2. It also offered good news for Democratic presidential nominee — and Illinois native — Hillary Clinton, who led Republican Donald Trump 53 percent to 28 percent among likely voters.

In gauging the relative popularity of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Rauner, the poll included a somewhat larger 1,000-person sample of registered voters. The two are locked in a stalemate over the state budget and voters aren’t much impressed by either. It showed Madigan is slightly more unpopular than Rauner, with 63 percent disapproving of Madigan’s performance, compared to 55 percent who disapprove of Rauner’s; that larger sample has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

“Republican candidates who win statewide need to run better in the collar counties than Trump, Kirk and Munger are running,” David Yepsen, director of the Institute, said in a statement. “As always, that will be the battleground region in the coming month.”