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Thursday, April 13, 2006 11:03 am

Topinka in the lead

Poll shows Meeks effect is negligible, but that’s no surprise

For the first time, a statewide poll has included state Sen. James Meeks in the gubernatorial mix, but the results are not yet encouraging for the potential third-party candidate. Meeks, an African-American minister and state legislator from Chicago, has been threatening to run for governor for the past several weeks. The poll, conducted by the Glengariff Group, surveyed 600 registered Illinois voters March 30-April 1. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. In a three-way contest pitting Meeks against Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, Topinka has 40 percent to Blagojevich’s 38 percent, and Meeks trails far behind with 7 percent. (All numbers in this column include voters who are leaning toward a particular candidate — without “leaners,” Topinka leads 36-35-5.) From the looks of the poll, Meeks is getting the “none of the above,” vote because most people still probably don’t know he’s considering a run or don’t know who he is, even if they have heard about his potential candidacy. One good indication of this is the African-American vote. Blagojevich has 67 percent of the African-American vote to Topinka’s 13 percent to Meeks’ 10 percent. Results for these types of questions have a much higher margin of error than the full results, but the results still indicate how little even his core constituency knows about or currently supports Meeks’ potential candidacy. Still, he is making a dent. Without Meeks in the race, Blagojevich leads Topinka 80-14 among black voters. Without Meeks, the Glengariff poll shows Topinka leading Blagojevich by 3 points, 44-41. The pollster believes that Meeks is taking support equally from both candidates. Also without Meeks, Topinka leads Blagojevich 50-33 in suburban Cook County, 51-35 in the suburban “collar counties,” 41-39 in west/northwest Illinois, and 65-19 in central Illinois. Blagojevich leads in Chicago 65-25 and in southern Illinois, 51-37. Topinka leads Blagojevich among men, 44-41. The two are tied among women, 42-42. With Meeks, Topinka leads in suburban Cook 46-30-7, in the collars 46-34-7, in west/northwest Illinois 42-33-9 and in central Illinois 55-19-15. Blagojevich has a 58-23-7 lead in Chicago and a 48-32-8 lead in southern Illinois. Among men, Topinka leads 41-38-8, and she also leads with women, 39-38-8. Again, the Meeks numbers probably don’t mean a lot right now because his campaign has not yet begun, but the poll’s results in the two-way contest are very similar to those of a Rasmussen poll that was taken about the same time. That poll had Topinka leading Blagojevich 43-41. So the numbers look right. With a 4 percent margin of error in the Glengariff poll, there’s a 79 percent probability that Topinka actually leads Blagojevich. The Glengariff Group also polled the treasurer’s race. The pollster found Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias leading state Sen. Christine Radogno 38-27. A third, 33 percent, were undecided. Giannoulias is a Democrat in a Democratic-leaning state and he just won a primary, so it’s understandable that he’s ahead. Radogno was unopposed in the Republican primary and received almost no media coverage. Radogno led in suburban Cook 37-36 and in central Illinois 41-19. Giannoulias led in the traditionally Republican collar counties 35-28, in Chicago 55-12, in west/northwest Illinois 34-33, and in southern Illinois 33-23. Giannoulias also led among men, 37-28, and with women, 38-27. Independents broke for Giannoulias 26-23, with 50 percent undecided. As expected, incumbent Jesse White has a huge lead over challenger Dan Rutherford in the race for secretary of state. According to Glengariff, a whopping 59 percent of registered voters prefer White, compared with just 28 percent for Rutherford. White led in every age group, in every region of the state, with both sexes, even taking 21 percent of the Republican vote. Independents prefer White, 55-24. The results aren’t surprising; White won all 102 counties in 2002. Rutherford’s only hope is for a major (and unexpected) scandal to erupt or for White to be drafted to run for Cook County Board president in the event that the ailing John Stroger decides he can’t run again. The offer hasn’t been made yet, but White’s people aren’t actively tamping down the replacement rumors.
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