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Miller: Rauner’s TV blitz also hurting views of Quinn

Updated: March 6, 2014 6:19AM



Without a doubt, the most overlooked aspect of Bruce Rauner’s multimillion-dollar spending on TV commercials has been his advertising campaign’s repeated attacks on Gov. Pat Quinn.

“Career politicians are running our state into the ground, and Pat Quinn, he’s at the top of the heap,” Rauner says in one of his ads that have permeated the airwaves since November.

“Pat Quinn, a career politician who failed to deliver term limits,” a Rauner TV announcer declares in another spot.

The commercials are supposedly aimed at Republican primary election voters, but obviously everybody else in the state is seeing them as well. And Quinn, who doesn’t have a well-funded primary opponent, hasn’t bothered to rebut any of Rauner’s attacks.

That could turnout to be a huge mistake, particularly considering Illinois’ persistently high unemployment rate, the hostile national climate, the never-ending negative stories about the state’s finances and Quinn’s four-year history of poor job-performance reviews by the public.

If a new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll is accurate, Rauner’s unaddressed attacks have helped knock Quinn into a shockingly deep hole.

A poll of 1,354 likely general election voters shows that all four of Quinn’s potential Republican opponents have pulled ahead of the Democratic governor. The Jan. 30 poll says state Sen. Bill Brady leads Quinn by 48 percent to 39 percent, state Sen. Kirk Dillard and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford are ahead of Quinn 46 to 37 and Rauner leads the governor 47 to 39.

The self-described party affiliation in the poll was 22 percent Republican and 38 percent Democratic, while 40 percent said they were independents.

“Pat Quinn has made a career out of overcoming the odds, and the electorate clearly know more about him than the others,” pollster Gregg Durham said. “When that balances out, we may see a dramatically different picture.”

Yes, we may. But right now, voters know Quinn, and they really don’t like him.

The poll, which had a margin of error of +/-2.7 percent, says that 59 percent of likely voters disapprove of Quinn’s job performance, 29 percent approve and 12 percent were undecided.

The poll has Quinn leading his opponents in Chicago but nowhere else. He’s ahead of Brady 63 percent to 25 percent in the city, and his lead there is similar against the other three as well.

But the Republicans average a surprising six-point lead over Quinn in the Cook County suburbs, which have been trending Democratic for years. The margin was much higher in the collar counties, where the Republican field led Quinn by an average of 12 percentage points each.

Downstate, though, Quinn is getting crushed. The GOP candidates’ average lead is a huge 30 percentage points each.

Take a look at the regional job approval breakdowns and you’ll see what’s behind this. A whopping 73 percent of downstaters disapprove of Quinn’s job performance, while only 19 percent approve. Among collar-county voters, 62 percent don’t think Quinn has done a good job as governor, while 32 percent are satisfied And suburban Cook voters disapprove of Quinn’s job performance by a 56 to 25 margin.

Only in Chicago is Quinn above water: 49 percent approve of his job performance and 32 percent do not.

Among women, Quinn is doing barely OK, according to the poll. He’s ahead of Brady and Rauner by a point, in front of Dillard by two points and trails Rutherford by a point. Men, however, are going overwhelmingly for the GOP candidates. Brady leads Quinn by 24 points among men, Dillard leads him by 25 points and Rauner and Rutherford lead him by 21.

The poll indicates that 62 percent are down on Quinn’s job performance, while 57 percent of women disapprove. His approval ratings are abysmal. Just 24 percent of men approve, while 31 percent of women think he’s doing a good job.

The bottom line here is that the mostly union-financed TV advertising attacks on Rauner, which will supposedly kick off this week, had better do some magic and disqualify the newcomer.

Otherwise, the wealthy candidate will stay on the air into the fall, keeping his advertising foot on the governor’s already hobbled political neck for the rest of the year. It won’t be pretty.

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



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