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Thursday, July 22, 2010 10:00 pm

Women help Quinn close the gap

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PHOTO BY BRIAN CASSELLA/MCT

So, why did Gov. Pat Quinn close the gap with Republican state Sen. Bill Brady in Rasmussen Reports’ latest poll? There’s a one-word answer: women.

Rasmussen’s newest poll had Brady ahead of Quinn 43-40. That’s a pretty hefty swing from the firm’s June poll, which had Brady with an eleven-point lead, 47-36.

Many political observers were stunned back in March when Rasmussen’s first poll had Brady trouncing Quinn with likely female voters 50-33. Quinn had a horrible time with women voters during the Democratic primary against Dan Hynes, particularly after the news hit that his administration had released a bunch of violent criminals from prison early. Women voters were still upset with him after the primary, it appeared. Subsequent polling backed up Rasmussen’s numbers. An April survey by Public Policy Polling had Brady leading Quinn among women by 10 points.

Quinn ranks high on so-called “women’s issues,” but Brady is 100 percent pro-life, even in cases of rape and incest. Brady has also taken dozens of votes in the Illinois Senate that quite a few women, particularly in the all-important suburbs, won’t love. Some folks have been saying that Brady’s lead in all the polls was artificial because women just didn’t know what Brady stood for.

They were right.  By June 7, Rasmussen had Brady leading Quinn among women by just three points, 42-39. Public Policy Polling’s June survey had the two men tied among women.

And the latest Rasmussen poll, conducted July 7, has Quinn completely turning the tables on Brady and is now leading among women by 11 points, 47-36.  Word appears to be gradually getting out about Brady’s very conservative stances on abortion, guns, etc.

That movement by women was totally behind Rasmussen’s latest 43-40 overall results, which is the narrowest margin that any poll has recorded in this race to date. Quinn launched a TV ad in the Chicago area last week that whacked Brady good on abortion and his vote against requiring insurance companies to cover mammograms with no out-of-pocket expenses.  That ad will probably put Quinn’s numbers to where they should’ve been all along.

Meanwhile, Gov. Quinn’s signature this month on legislation creating a temporary “back to school” sales tax holiday dovetailed nicely with that same new poll by Rasmussen Reports which shows Illinoisans by a two-to-one margin believe tax cuts are a better way to create jobs than increased government spending.

Every article and editorial about the upcoming sales tax holiday included the official budgetary cost estimates of $40 million to $60 million, which isn’t much, but is a definite issue during the state’s worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression.

Yet, 55 percent of Illinoisans, including 60 percent of independents and 47 percent of “moderates” believe that cutting taxes is a better way to create new jobs than increasing government spending. That’s less than Rasmussen’s national result of 69 percent favoring tax cuts, but to be expected considering Illinois’ more liberal bent. With the budget in sorry shape, tax cuts are few and far between, and with Brady advocating broad tax cuts, Quinn had to do his best to get the word out.

This sales tax holiday will probably get more publicity than any other pre-election tax cut Quinn could have devised. Retailers usually advertise quite heavily during back to school season, and they’ll surely include the automatic 5 percent discount from the sales tax holiday in their nonstop pitches to consumers. Broadcast and print news will do plenty of stories during the Aug. 6-15 tax holiday.

Not to mention all the mothers who will be thankful for a break on their purchases. Quinn knew what he was doing there, or at least stumbled into it.

But before the Quinn campaign can celebrate any victories, there is a very ominous warning sign for their guy in the latest Rasmussen poll.

Back in March, Quinn and Brady split the 65 and older crowd with 45 points each in Rasmussen’s poll. By June, Brady had a three-point lead with seniors. Rasmussen’s July poll has Brady widening his lead to 11 points.

Seniors vote in high percentages, so Quinn needs to scare yet another demographic into retreating from Brady. Maybe a tax holiday on electric scooters?

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

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