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Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014 12:01 am

The shape of Illinois leadership to come

 OK, so what we’re gonna do today is discuss some congressional races that you may or may not care about in order to talk about the governor’s race, which you probably do care about since you’re reading this column.

First up, let’s look at freshman Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider, who is leading former one-term Republican Congressman Bob Dold by two points, 46-44 with 9 percent undecided, according to a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll taken Sept. 30.

Millions have already been spent in that north suburban district, and Schneider barely beat Dold last time in a big Democratic year, so it’s little surprise that this race is so tight. The poll of 919 likely voters has a margin of error of +/-3.2 percent and 23 percent were mobile phone contacts.

Gov. Pat Quinn is getting slaughtered in the district by Bruce Rauner 51-39, with another 5 percent going for Libertarian Chad Grimm and 5 percent undecided. That can’t be helping Schneider. There are a ton of anti-gun, pro-choice women in that district, and yet Quinn is losing to Rauner among females 45-42.

Moving right along, every poll was way off in the 11th Congressional District two years ago. So, keep that in mind when I tell you that the latest Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll has Democratic Congressman Bill Foster ahead of Republican state Rep. Darlene Senger by only three points, 47-44, with another 10 percent undecided. The poll of 918 likely voters was taken Sept. 30 and had a margin of error of +/-3.2 percent, with 24 percent mobile phone contacts.

The race in the sprawling southwest suburban district has so far attracted little outside attention. A recent Senger poll showed her trailing by 5 percent and the campaign decided to keep it secret in order to sneak up on Foster. Oops.

Rauner is leading Quinn in the district 48-39, with another 6 percent going to the Libertarian.

Another Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll showed state Rep. Mike Bost leading Democratic freshman Congressman Bill Enyart by five points, 45-40, with six points going to Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw in this southern Illinois district.

Despite Democratic efforts to paint Bost as a scary, screaming extremist, the Republican is leading Enyart 41-40 among women. The poll of 909 likely voters was taken Oct. 1 and has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percent. 22 percent of the contacts were cellphone users.

Rauner is way ahead of Gov. Quinn in that district 47-35, with 9 percent going to the Libertarian candidate.

The biggest bright spot for the congressional Democrats came from a Sept. 29 Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll which showed Democratic Congresswoman Cheri Bustos leading former GOP Congressman Bobby Schilling by nine points, 50-41. The poll of 953 likely voters had a margin of error of +/-3.2 percent.

National Republicans have been saying for months that Gov. Quinn would bring down Democratic incumbents, and Quinn is trailing Rauner in this northwestern Illinois district 42-38, with 9 percent going to the Libertarian. But, obviously, Quinn isn’t yet hurting Bustos.

Like elsewhere, Quinn has a big problem with women in the district. Bustos is winning among women 51-39, but they split 39-39 in the governor’s race.

And, finally, Republican Congressman Rodney Davis appears to be coasting to re-election, according to a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll. Davis has a very big 51-38 lead over Democrat Ann Callis, with 11 percent undecided. The poll of 932 likely voters was taken Oct. 1 and has a margin of error of +/-3.2 percent.

Even so, Callis is still getting more support than Gov. Quinn in a district that stretches from Champaign to the Metro East. Rauner leads 43-35, with 11 percent for the Libertarian.

OK, now to the point I’m trying to make.

If you look back at 2012, it was very difficult to find a hotly contested congressional race where President Obama was trailing in the polls. He won all the districts listed above.

Again, these are swing districts. Neither party has a huge advantage over the other party. You’d expect Quinn to at least be competitive, but he’s getting blown out everywhere except the Bustos district, where he’s still trailing.

Obama won Illinois by 17 points, so Quinn doesn’t have to be all that close in those congressional districts to prevail. But his appalling numbers are a clear sign of his unpopularity everywhere but Chicago. Despite recent polls showing Rauner and Quinn essentially tied, I think the governor is still a long way away from closing this deal.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.

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