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Thursday, July 5, 2018 12:18 am

A closer look at Kwame Raoul’s lead

 A political action committee run by top officials of Operating Engineers Local 150 reported a $255,000 contribution last week from a “dark money” organization controlled by the same Local 150 honchos.

Fight Back for a Better Tomorrow PAC and its money-raising Fight Back Fund spent $900,000 during the Democratic primary to oppose Rep. Scott Drury’s bid for attorney general. The groups also spent $685,000 to oppose former Gov. Pat Quinn’s AG run. Both expenditures were ultimately designed to help Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) win the attorney general primary, which he did.

The PAC then filed paperwork to show it had purchased TV ads designed to help Sen. Raoul fend off Republican nominee Erika Harold during the general election. As before, these will be independent expenditures that aren’t coordinated with the Raoul campaign.

The ads won’t begin right away. Instead, the group is reportedly reserving advertising time for later this year. The quarter-million is essentially a down payment on that reservation.

So, how does this race look right now? As I’ve already told you, a recent Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll had Sen. Kwame Raoul leading Erika Harold by nine points, 44-35 with 21 percent undecided. My pollster viewed those results as a sort of generic party matchup. But, let’s take a look at some of the crosstabs today.

Besides her fellow Republican Party members, Ms. Harold led in just a few demographics.

For instance, senior citizens 65 and up preferred Harold over Sen. Raoul 42-38, with 21 percent undecided. Downstaters backed her over Raoul 43-33. And suburban collar county voters narrowly support her 42-40. The poll found that Gov. Bruce Rauner led in those demographics with 2 points among seniors and 3 points with Downstaters, but he trailed Democrat J.B. Pritzker in the collars by 5 points.

The African-American Raoul led the African-American Harold among whites by 1 point, 40-39 (Pritzker led Rauner by 2 among whites). Raoul led Harold with black voters by 53 points, 69-16 (Pritzker’s margin was 50 points).

81 percent of Republicans supported Harold, while 13 percent were undecided and 6 percent said they backed Raoul. 79 percent of Democrats backed Raoul, while 16 percent were undecided and 5 percent backed the Republican Harold. So, the hidden “slack” in the partisan results would seem to show that Raoul will benefit a bit more.

Among independent and third-party voters, Raoul led by 13 points, 38-25, with 37 percent undecided (Pritzker led Rauner by 6 with this group).

Mr. Raoul led Ms. Harold by 2 among male voters, 42-40 (Pritzker led by 6). And he led her by 15 points among women, 46-31 (Pritzker led Rauner by 13).

Chicago resident Raoul led by 57 points in the city, 69-12 (Pritzker led by 40). And Raoul led Harold in suburban Cook County by 15, 45-30 (Pritzker led by 9).

Raoul had a 30-point lead among union households, 56-26 (Pritzker led by 33), and held a 3-point, 42-39 lead among non-union households (Pritzker also led by 3).

Raoul also led among voters aged 18-34 by 21 points, 50-29 (Pritzker led by 19). Raoul’s lead among voters aged 35-49 was 19 points, 48-29 (Pritzker also led by 19). And Raoul led by 5 points with those aged 50-64, 43-38 (Pritzker led by 6).

Also, keep in mind that this poll was taken June 9-11. That’s before President Trump’s numbers precipitously declined during the immigrant family separation crisis at the southern border. The worse he does, the worse his party’s candidates will likely do come November. But then, politics being politics, the president could also do something to help himself before November. The poll of 600 likely voters had a margin of error of +/-3.99 percent.

If Raoul avoids any major controversies, runs a decent campaign and raises enough money to compete, it sure looks like this race is his to lose. But, as always, this is politics. Stuff can change in a hurry.

It should also be interesting to see if the Republicans open up a significant “dark money” spigot to help Ms. Harold. The Republican Attorneys General Association created the Illinois Freedom Fund independent expenditure committee in late March specifically to help Harold, but that group has not yet reported any contributions as of this writing.

Raoul ended March with just under $100,000 in his own campaign bank account and has reported raising about $357K since then. Harold reported having $92K in the bank at the end of March and has reported $208K in contributions since then.  


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

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