Even the candidates who led their races in the Chicago Tribune Poll released last week advised caution when reading the numbers. They realize that the majority of voters surveyed during the first week of this month were more focused on the upcoming holidays than campaign issues. The contenders are far from convinced that the reported rankings of candidates should be used as predictors of how they'll finish in the February 2nd primary elections.
But the statewide and Cook County telephone surveys are revealing in other ways:
Apparently, seven years after his last run for governor in 2002, former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan has enough name recognition statewide to give him a big "lead" (26%) in the race for the republican nomination for governor. Ryan has done no television advertising and has run a relatively low-key campaign compared to former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna. Despite spending over a million dollars on broadcast television ads, McKenna has to be disappointed at finishing a distant second at 12%. In third place, according to the Trib, is Senator Bill Brady (10%). Last summer and earlier this fall, various internal campaign polls had the Bloomington home builder leading with 15-20%. Clearly, Ryan's late entry has hurt Brady so expect the only downstater in the race to launch an all-out attack on the "comeback kid" from DuPage County.
On the democratic side, the newspaper's pollster was calling voters between December 2nd and 8th, during the same week Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes finally appeared to be getting some traction in his challenge to unelected incumbent Pat Quinn. Earlier in the week, Hynes won the endorsement of the 103,000 member Illinois Federation of Teachers. He also, for good or bad, was making daily news with his criticism of Quinn's government for its short term borrowing and general handling of the state's train wreck of a financial situation. Its likely that the 49% of respondents who said they favored the Governor had not experienced the energized Hynes who was the choice of only 23% with 21% undecided. The 2-1 margin is similar to a Simon Institute survey in September and October (Quinn was favored then by 33.9% to Hynes' 16.5%) So seeing a second independent poll with their guy not having closed the gap has to be disheartening for the Hynes campaign,
Finally, the Trib's survey of 502 Cook County voters on the Board President's race was more interesting for its social commentary than its ranking of candidates. Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown (29%), Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (20%), and incumbent President Todd Stroger (14%) were favored over Water Reclamation Board Chairman Terrence O'Brien (11%) with 26% of voters undecided. O'Brien is the only caucasian in the race with three African-Americans. So if you can believe what people told the Trib pollster, racial politics will not determine what happens in Cook County. Wouldn't that be something?
But lets see another survey in mid-January...and a couple of weeks later on February 2nd, the only poll that counts.