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Enthusiasm Among Illinois Democrats More Than Double What It Was In 2014: Poll

Pritzker and Rauner
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

A new poll shows Illinois Democrats are far more enthusiastic about voting in this fall’s election than Republicans.

The poll, conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, shows 65 percent of Democrats describe themselves as "more enthusiastic than usual” about voting. That contrasts with 54 percent of Republicans who feel that way.

“Republicans could still get mobilized, but consistently polls have found that the Democrats have an edge there,” says John Jackson, a political scientist at the institute.

Republican enthusiasm is actually up a little from four years ago, when just under 50 percent described themselves as more enthusiastic than usual. This year that figure is at 54 percent. But that gain is dwarfed the jump in the share of Democrats who say they’re “more enthusiastic” — it more than doubled, going from 31 percent in 2014 to 65 percent this year.

The poll was conducted from September 21-24 and reached 1,001 voters with a live survey. Sixty percent of respondents were on mobile phones.

For candidate questions, the pollsters narrowed their survey to 715 likely voters — people who said they were certain to vote and know the exact location of their polling place.


The poll shows Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker ahead of incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by 22 percentage points. It has Pritzker winning 49 percent of the vote, a jump from other recent surveys. That would put him in striking distance of an outright majority win rathern than a plurality.

Rauner had support from just 27 percent of poll respondents.

The Libertarian candidate for governor, Kash Jackson, was at 4 percent. So was state Sen. Sam McCann, who left the Republican party to run as a Conservative Party candidate for governor. Both men are widely considered to be more likely to draw votes away from Rauner than Pritzker.

Seventeen percent of voters are undecided or did not express a preference in the race for governor.

Attorney General

The record-spending campaign for governor has swamped other statewide races.

That lack of visibility is showing up in a new poll for attorney general, where more voters are undecided than support either of the two major party candidates.

Among likely voters, 36 percent chose Democrat state Sen. Kwame Raoul while 26 percent went for Republican Erika Harold.

Jackson says while Raoul is in a better position than Harold, the race is far from over.

“Long and short is: With almost 40 percent yet to make up their minds, this one is still to be won or lost by the campaigns … and who gets out the vote, of course,” Jackson says.

The poll did not include the Libertarian candidate for attorney general, Bubba Harsy. There is no Conservative Party candidate running with McCann.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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