In the most recent statewide version of the Simon Poll, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner leads challenger Jeanne Ives, a state representative from Wheaton, in the Republican Primary, by 20 points, 51 percent to 31 percent, according to a news release from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.
In the Democratic primary, businessman J.B. Pritzker leads State Sen. Daniel Biss by 10 points, 31 percent to 21 percent. Former University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Kennedy trails in third place, at 17 percent.
In the poll of 1,001 registered voters across Illinois, conducted Feb. 19 through 25, the margin for error is plus-or-minus 3 percentage points. It is important to remember that among self-identified primary election voters, the margin is significantly wider: plus-or-minus 6 percentage points in the 259-voter sample of Republicans, and 4.5 percentage points in the sample of 472 Democrats.
In hypothetical general election matchups, asked of the full sample, Gov. Rauner trails both leading Democratic candidates by similar margins: Pritzker leads the governor 50 percent to 35 percent, while Biss leads Rauner 48 percent to 34 percent.
“It’s interesting that Pritzker’s and Biss’s margins over Rauner are essentially the same in The Simon Poll,” said Charlie Leonard, an Institute visiting professor involved in the polling, in the release. “One explanation may be that in the minds of voters — who may know little about either Biss or Pritzker — the decision may come down to ‘Rauner versus not-Rauner.’ If the election were held today, I’d rather be ‘not-Rauner.’”
Both Pritzker and Biss lead the governor by wide margins in the City of Chicago and the Chicago suburbs, while downstate, Rauner leads Pritzker by three points and leads Biss by eight points — keeping in mind the smaller sample sizes and wider margins for error in the geographic subgroups.
“It is three weeks to go until the March 20 Primary and major events could still move these numbers,” said John S. Jackson, another designer of this poll, in the release. “However, for all the money and attention these two races have garnered, the results so far fairly faithfully reflect the bedrock strength of these two parties in the state of Illinois, and this advantages the Democrats.”
In the Republican primary for Attorney General, Harvard Law graduate and Champaign-Urbana attorney Erika Harold, well-known in Republican political circles, leads the lesser-known Gary Grasso, a DuPage County board member, 18 percent to 14 percent, with almost two-thirds (65 percent) undecided.
The Democratic primary for Attorney General is as crowded as the gubernatorial field, with eight candidates vying for the nomination. State Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago leads the pack with 22 percent of respondents, vs. former Gov. Pat Quinn, with 18 percent. None of the other candidates registers double-digit support, and the undecideds total 39 percent.