Survey Shows Voters Favor Pritzker In Governor's Race, But Many Are Still Undecided

Sep 26, 2018

The 2018 Illinois Issues Survey produced by the UIS Center for State Policy & Leadership's Survey Research Office and NPR Illinois shows dissatisfaction with state government, as nearly 3 out of 4 respondents feel the state is on the wrong track.  That sentiment appears to be impacting the race for governor.

Despite the end of a long budget impasse, 47 percent say the state is doing about the same as a year ago and 37 percent say things are getting worse.

53 percent of those who answered say they have considered leaving Illinois. The number is even higher ( 67 percent) for those who are between 18-34 years old.

All of this would seem to predict trouble for incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.  His term has been marked by gridlock and infighting with Democrats and the two year stretch with no budget, resulting in state government’s backlog of bills skyrocketing. 

The unhappiness with state government shows up in heavy support for legislative term limits, as about 80 percent are in favor.

35 percent of those surveyed say they favor his Democratic opponent J.B. Pritzker.  23 percent support Rauner and 15 percent back other candidates.  There are two other hopefuls: Conservative Party candidate Sam McCann and Libertarian Kash Jackson.  27 percent are still undecided. 

Pritzker has a big advantage in the Chicago area, while Rauner appears to have a slight edge outside of it. 82 percent of Democrats say they are likely to vote in November, a higher percentage than Republicans or independents. 

The unhappiness with state government shows up in heavy support for legislative term limits, as about 80 percent are in favor.   Support is strong among both Democrats and Republicans. 

Survey results suggest Pritzker is more unifying for Democrats than Rauner is for Republicans.  67 percent of Democrats say they will vote for Pritzker while 23 percent are undecided, 6 percent say they will vote for someone else and 4 percent say they will vote for Rauner.   

56 percent of Republicans indicate they would vote for Rauner, while 21 percent are undecided, 17 percent say they plan to vote for someone else, and 7 percent say they will vote for Pritzker.

Among independents, Rauner has slightly more support than Pritzker. 

The survey results also show 57 percent support a graduated income tax where higher incomes are taxed at a higher rate.  Illinois currently has a flat tax.

Among other topics, 57 percent say illegal immigration is a "very" or "somewhat serious" issue.  But 63 percent indicated they feel immigrants help the state rather than hurt it.  83 percent of Democrats feel that way while only 36 percent of Republicans do. 

Half the respondents say making kindergaten compulsory at age 5 is a "high priority," with 74 percent of African Americans in agreement.  School vouchers also appear to be more popular among minorities than whites.  Over three-quarters say increasing state funding to public colleges and universities to keep the cost of tuition from growing is a “high priority.”

Nearly 90 percent favor mental health background checks on all gun buyers.   58 percent favor banning so-called assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.  Only 36 percent of Republicans are in support of a weapons ban.  But Republicans are four times more likely than Democrats and twice as likely as independents to back allowing teachers and school administrators to carry guns on school grounds.

The percveption of a divided society also showed in the findings.  95 percent say Americans are "very divided" or "somewhat divided" over politics.  Nearly 9 out of 10 said the same about race.  Half of those responding also have little to no trust in the media to report the news “fully, accurately, and fairly."  

The statewide survey of Illinois issues was conducted in July and August and has a margin of error of +/- 3.7%.  It compares results across a variety of demographic groups such as geography, political affiliation, and ethnic background. A total of 717 registered Illinois voters were surveyed.