Not So "Neck and Neck"
The Chicagotribune.com headline screamed for several hours late Thursday night and early Friday morning that candidates Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk were running "neck and neck" in their race to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.
Of 600 Illinois voters surveyed during the Tribune/WGN-TV sponsored poll August 28-30, 34% favored democrat Illinois Treasurer Giannoulias and 34% favored republican Congressman Kirk.
But there's one aspect of the race between the two major party contenders that is nowhere near being a dead heat:
Kirk has outraised Giannoulias by at least a 4-1 margin and his campaign announced last month that the National Republican Senatorial Committee had set aside an additional $3.4 million for the Northshore Congressman. The NRSC pledge--larger than expected because the committee also is allowed to donate for the same day "special election"--likely will increase the Kirk-to-Giannoulias fundraising ratio.
But the democrat's strategists point to the Tribune survey and others by Rasmussen Reports and Public Policy Polling that suggest Kirk's big money advantage has not translated into voter support.
The Giannoulias campaign spins that "neck and neck" is pretty good for them, after Kirk and his PACs spent $650,000 on television ads this summer compared to just $135,000 by Giannoulias.
Meanwhile, Kirk spinmeisters say their fundraising advantage is evidence of broadbased support for their candidate, even though a significant portion (NRSC, etc.), if not most of their war chest is sourced out of state.
Finally, 22% of the voters surveyed by the Tribune were undecided on the race while 6% favored Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones and 3% would choose Libertarian Mike Labno.
Earlier this week, the Illinois Board of Elections ruled the Libertarians could run a full slate of statewide candidates, including the cut-federal-spending, anti-bailout, state's rights, anti-abortion Labno who instantly polled 3% in the Trib survey.
How he runs the race might be more important than money in the long run.