Illinois voters are not pleased about the overall direction of the state and nation, but they are much happier with the direction of their own local town or city, according to a news release from the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Also, voters are not much impressed with the recent federal tax cuts and do not plan to let them influence their voting decisions.

Those are major conclusions of a recent poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The Simon Poll was based on a statewide sample of 1,001 registered voters conducted Feb. 19 to 25. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent.


The respondents were asked, “generally speaking, do you think things in our country are going in the right direction, or are they off track and heading in the wrong direction?” A total of 27 percent chose right track, while a total of 64 percent chose wrong direction, with 9 percent saying they don’t know.

Voters were then asked the same question about the state of Illinois, and 84 percent chose the off track and heading in the wrong direction. Only 9 percent chose the right direction option.

“Voters have been more negative about the state of Illinois than the rest of the country since the inception of our poll in 2008,” said Charlie Leonard, a visiting professor with the institute and one of the designers of the poll. “It is notable that the state ratings are still 20 percentage points more negative than the national ratings and there is an 18 percent gap between Illinois and the nation on the ‘right direction’ option.”

Things were more positive when the same question was asked at the local level regarding the city or area in which a person lived. There, over a majority, 54 percent chose the right direction, while 37 percent chose the wrong direction, with 10 percent saying they didn't know.


The poll also asked whether Illinois voters approved or disapproved of the 2017 tax cut passed by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Trump. Thirty-four percent said they supported the tax cut, with 17 percent saying they strongly supported it and 17 percent saying they somewhat supported the cut.

Well over a majority, 53 percent of Illinois voters surveyed, said they opposed the tax cut, with 15 percent strongly opposed and 38 percent somewhat opposed; 2 percent said “neither.” The state is deeply polarized on this issue, with 80 percent of Democrats opposed while 75 percent of Republicans were in support of the tax cuts. Independents were in the middle, with 36 percent who supported and 48 percent who opposed the cuts.

Chicago voters opposed the tax cuts: 63 percent were opposed and 28 percent supported. Downstate voters were more closely divided over the tax cuts, with 40 percent who supported and 41 percent who opposed. Thirty-three percent of suburban Chicago and collar county voters supported and 55 percent opposed the tax cuts.

Illinois voters were asked whether the tax cuts would make them more or less likely to vote for Republican congressional candidates in November, and 33 percent of the respondents said the tax cuts would make them more likely to vote Republican in the fall, while 56 percent said they were less likely, and 6 percent choosing neither.

Eighty-five percent of Democrats said less likely; 80 percent of Republicans said more likely, while 29 percent of Independents said more likely and 49 percent said less likely.

Downstate voters chose more likely over less likely by a margin of 48 percent to 42 percent. Chicago voters chose less likely by 70 percent to 19 percent. Suburban Chicago and the collar counties voters chose less likely over more likely, 58 percent to 31 percent.

The question of which party “best represents your interest in the U.S. Congress” produced a solid advantage for the Democrats. Forty-three percent of the respondents overall chose the Democrats; 28 percent chose the Republicans; 2 percent chose the Green Party; 6 percent the Libertarians; 12 percent chose some other party.

Forty percent of downstate respondents chose the Republicans, and 31 percent chose the Democrats, while 2 percent chose the Greens and 7 percent the Libertarians. In Chicago, 55 percent favored the Democrats and 15 percent favored the Republicans, 6 percent took the Libertarians and 3 percent the Greens. In suburban and collar counties, 45 percent chose the Democrats and 25 percent the Republicans, while 2 percent chose the Greens and 5 percent the Libertarians.

The poll then turned to two policy issues that are on the political agenda in Illinois. The first question asked whether the voters favored or opposed “the legalization of recreational marijuana if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol?”

Two-thirds of Illinois voters said they favored this measure compared to nearly one-third who opposed. Those favoring were 46 percent who strongly favored and 20 percent who favored legalization compared to 24 percent who strongly opposed and 8 percent who opposed and 3 percent who were unsure.

Downstate voters favored legalization by a 58 percent to 40 percent opposed; 77 percent in Chicago favored and 22 percent in Chicago opposed; in suburban Chicago and the collar counties, 66 percent favored and 31 percent opposed. Democrats favored marijuana legalization by 78 percent to 20 percent; Republicans were evenly divided at 49 percent favor and 49 percent opposed and Independents favored by 62 percent to 36 percent.

The second question was whether Illinois should require lawmakers to wait at least a year before registering as a lobbyist. An overwhelming 85 percent supported this proposal while only 10 percent opposed and 5 percent were unsure. The measure was favored by similar margins by identifiers with both parties and independents and by all three major regions of the state.