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WASHINGTON — It’s Donald Trump in Illinois.

Trump, at 30 percent, is the top GOP presidential candidate in Illinois, according to a new poll, with double the points of Sens. Ted Cruz at 15 percent and Marco Rubio at 13 percent.

The billionaire real estate tycoon and reality show star, the national front-runner, polls first in Cook County, the collar counties of Lake, DuPage, Will, Kane and McHenry and in downstate Illinois, according to results shared with the Chicago Sun-Times.

GOP pollster Joe Caccitolo, who runs Compass Consulting, conducted the automated telephone survey of 2,104 likely Republican voters last Wednesday, the day after the fifth Republican debate in Las Vegas. More on the methodology below.

After Trump and the senators from Texas and Florida, in Illinois it’s former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 7 percent; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 6 percent; Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 3 percent; former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 2 percent.

Asked, “if the primary election for president was held today, for whom would you vote,” 11 percent were undecided.

And while the entire field consists of other contenders not included in the poll — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; former New York Gov. George Pataki; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — only 2 percent said their choice was for another candidate.

Caccitolo’s polling snapshot comes three months before Illinois’ March 15 primary and tracks the popularity of Trump in national polls as the crowded GOP field heads toward the first presidential vote in Iowa on Feb. 1.


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Caccitolo does survey work for the Illinois state House Republican political organization and is a psychologist on the adjunct faculty at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Trump came in at 33 percent in the collar counties; 32 percent in Cook County; and 29 percent downstate. In an election in which Trump is casting himself as an outsider running against the establishment, Cruz makes his best showing, at 18 percent, with downstate voters.

That suggests, Caccitolo said, “The voters downstate are more traditionally conservative” and Cruz is seen as the “truest conservative.”

Worth noting: Bush and Kasich have built Illinois presidential primary organizations with support from some of the biggest Republican establishment names in the state.

Unlike Trump, Bush and Kasich have recognized Illinois political figures running on their delegate slates – also to be elected in the March primary.

Trump has been to Illinois twice to boost his candidacy. Last November, more than 10,000 people packed the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield to see him. In June, Trump keynoted a City Club of Chicago lunch.

In Illinois, a voter does not have to declare or register a party affiliation in advance, so a major predictive factor of who will vote in the future is the past track record.

Calls went to households screened to include the hard-core Illinois Republicans who have pulled a GOP primary ballot over the past 10 years and those who participated in previous GOP primaries most of the time.

Only landlines were called. The margin of error in the poll was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Because most younger people use only cellphones, the survey was as big as it was in order to find younger voters. Still, half the respondents were 62 years old and over.

In the automated survey, in which respondents answer a recorded question by pressing a number on the key pad, Trump’s name was first.

The biggest distinctions in the poll came in the 26-to-35 age group, in which Rubio came in first at 19 percent to Trump’s 16 percent and 12 percent each for Christie and Cruz. That could indicate, Caccitolo said, that Rubio has potential “with the young blood in the party.”


Caccitolo also found support for a temporary halt to refugees coming to the United States and a proposal to give Chicagoans and others the option to recall elected officials.
Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to ban Syrian refugees from moving to Illinois. Trump kicked up a storm with his call to temporarily ban foreign Muslims from the U.S.

Recall legislation for elected officials in Chicago is pending in Springfield, targeting Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the wake of the Laquan McDonald police shooting controversy.

There appears to be support for these proposals.

Asked “Do you agree with a temporary halt to the refugee relocation program and other non-citizen Muslims traveling to the U.S. until a complete screening process that includes things like reviewing social media accounts” is in place, 65 percent completely agreed and 17 percent somewhat agreed. Only 5 percent completely disagreed.

No surprise: Trump supporters were the most in agreement on this; Kasich backers the least.

On the recall proposal aimed at Emanuel, 50 percent completely agreed; 22 percent somewhat agreed; 5 percent somewhat disagreed; and 6 percent completely disagreed.


Trump was pressed about his flirtation with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week by MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and again on Sunday by ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. In each show, Trump deflected questions about journalists killed on Putin’s watch.

On Sunday, Trump said if journalists are being killed “I think it’s horrible,” but was not sure that was true because “I haven’t seen the names.”

After Trump said that, I tweeted out the link to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which keeps a list of the names of the 56 journalists killed in Russia since 1992.

Take a look for yourself at the Committee to Protect Journalists’ website.

Follow Lynn Sweet on Twitter: @LynnSweet

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