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Miller: Rauner digs into his deep pockets as poll shows he’s running last

Updated: December 21, 2013 6:18AM



Back in mid-August, near the end of his summertime TV advertising blitz, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner scored 14 percent in a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of likely GOP primary voters.

That was up a tick from the 12 percent he got in a June 20 poll by the same firm. His campaign has run some radio commercials since then and sent out some direct mail, but Rauner has been mostly absent from television for a few months.

The absence doesn’t appear to have hurt him much. According to a Nov. 14 poll by the same firm, Rauner is at 11 percent. While he did slide back a bit, he’s still within the same polling range that he has been trading in for months. Not to say that’s good news. It isn’t.

Last week, Rauner let it be known that he’s spending $500,000 of his money to support a fresh round of TV commercials. Ironically enough, it’s an ad that tries to show he’s just a regular guy by focusing on a cheap watch that he supposedly favors. The folksy ad makes no mention of his home in Winnetka, his big spread in Montana or his Chicago lakefront condominium, of course.

Anyway, the question now is whether the wealthy retired financier with close ties to Chicago’s last two mayors can finally begin to rise to the next plateau among Republican primary election voters. Despite raising $3 million, he has yet to rise above third place in the four-man race, and this latest poll shows him in last place.

State Sen. Bill Brady, of Bloomington, continues to maintain his lead, according to the poll of 1,191 likely GOP voters. Brady scored 25 percent support to state Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s 18 percent and state Sen. Kirk Dillard’s 14 percent. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 2.94 percent.

“This poll parallels tracking polls we’ve been conducting in the Republican governor’s race,” We Ask America pollster Gregg Durham said. “While Brady and Rutherford continue to stay a step ahead of Rauner and Dillard, the evidence points more to the top two contenders’ name recognition advantage than anything else.”

The overall numbers have moved so little that it’s difficult to say if there’s much of a pattern here. However, Dillard, of Hinsdale, appears to be doing significantly better in the Chicago-area collar counties, coming in first place with 24 percent in last week’s poll vs. 17 percent in August (second place behind Rauner) and 13 percent in June.

And as we’ve been seeing since at least June, Rauner is doing much better with men than with women, perhaps because his ads so far have relied on “manly” images of him wearing a high-end barn jacket.

The poll shows a seven-point spread between his support among men (14 percent) and among women (7 percent). That’s a larger spread than any of the other candidates, but women are significantly more undecided as a whole than men (37 percent vs. 28 percent), according to the latest poll results.

It’s still early (the primary is in March), despite it feeling like this campaign has been going on forever. Even though he has raised and spent almost no money, Brady, the 2010 Republican candidate, actually scored four points higher than he did in August.

Rutherford has raised some cash but has spent almost no money as well, and last week’s polling shows him almost exactly where he was in August. Dillard has moved into third place, his numbers up by five percentage points, but when it’s this early in a political contest that could just be statistical noise.

The most significant figure in the latest poll remains that “Undecided” is far and away in first place at 33 percent of respondents.

Meanwhile, former Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross is leading DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan for state treasurer by 29 perceent to 18 percent, according to the same Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of Republican primary voters. But 54 percent remain undecided, about the same as in June (56 percent).

Cross’ people have to be somewhat relieved by these numbers. They’re polling higher than any Republican gubernatorial candidate, just days after Cross received a ton of press for voting for the gay marriage bill.

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



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