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10/18/2009

Simon Says...

  With their candidate trailing in the democratic primary race for Governor by significant margins in early polls and their media buyers spending money on television ads as if there's no tomorrow...Illinois comptroller Dan Hynes' political advisers are spinning hard to rally the troops.  And they're getting some back-up from the most recent independent survey of voters on the contest.

  It was conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University between September 8th and October 9th and released late last week.  It surveyed 800 registered Illinois voters and found that among those who planned to cast ballots in the democratic primary, incumbent Pat Quinn (33.9%) was favored by a two to one margin over challenger Hynes (16.5%).  But the Hynes spinmeisters are quick to point out that those in the "don't know/no answer" category were the largest plurality (35.4%) of the survey. 

  No matter what the election race or where its being contended, when a challenger's handlers see an incumbent polling at only 34% with a larger percentage of voters undecided, they begin to salivate.

  Then there's the other encouraging number for three-term Comptroller Hynes:  The Simon Poll measured his job approval rating at an eye-raising 82%.  But only 41% of those surveyed were able to respond because the rest didn't know who he was.   (Attorney General Lisa Madigan had a smaller 81% approval rating but a scored a whopping 86% in name recognition)

  So the Hynes camp is convinced that if it can get their candidate's name recognition up they can close the gap and eventually overtake Quinn.  That explains why they're spending so much of their campaign war chest on the TV ad blitz we see on ABC-7 and other stations around the city and downstate.  Quinn, who has a much smaller fund is doing all he can to make ad buys in rebuttal.

  But no matter how many times the Hynes people tell me they are in it to the finish, if they don't show some movement toward closing that 2-1 Quinn lead soon, it will affect their candidate's ability to raise money.    And Hynes will need more cash than he has now if he hopes to sprint to the wire with another televison ad barrage in January.  

  So while it might seem early in the Quinn/Hynes war...what's happening on TV now could be the critical battle of the campaign.

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