Without a doubt, the most overlooked aspect of Bruce Rauner’s multimillion-dollar TV ad buy 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 millions of dollars worth of ads are supposedly aimed at Republican primary 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 multiple attacks.
That could have been a huge mistake, particularly considering Illinois’ persistently high unemployment rates, the hostile national climate, the never-ending negative stories about the state’s finances and Quinn’s four-year history of low job performance scores.
If a new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll is accurate, then Rauner’s months-long unrebutted attacks have helped knock Quinn into a shockingly deep hole.
According to the poll of 1,354 likely general election voters, all four of Quinn’s potential Republican primary opponents have pulled ahead of the long-unpopular Democratic governor.
The poll, taken Jan. 30, found that Sen. Bill Brady leads Gov. Quinn, 48-39. Sen. Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford are ahead of Quinn, 46-37. And Rauner leads the governor, 47-39.
The self-described party affiliation in the poll was 22 percent Republican and 38 percent Democratic, while 40 percent said they were independents. Nineteen percent of the polling universe was cellphone users.
“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 Pat Quinn and they really don’t like him.
According to the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent, a whopping 59 percent of likely voters disapprove of Gov. Quinn’s job performance. A mere 29 percent approve of his job performance and 12 percent were undecided.
The poll has Quinn leading his opponents in Chicago, but nowhere else. He’s ahead of Brady 63-25 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 points each. Downstate, though, Quinn is getting absolutely crushed. The GOP candidates’ average lead is a gigantic 30 percentage points each.
Take a look at the regional job approval breakdowns and you’ll see what’s behind this. According to the poll, a whopping 73 percent of downstaters disapprove of Quinn’s job performance, while a mere 19 percent approve.
Another 62 percent of collar county voters disapprove and just 32 percent approve. Suburban Cook voters disapprove of Quinn’s job performance by a 56-25 margin. Only in Chicago is Quinn above water, and even there, just 49 percent approve of his job performance, while 32 percent disapprove.
Among women, Quinn is doing just barely OK. 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 overwhelming for his Republican opponents. Brady leads Quinn by 24 points among men, Dillard leads him by 25 points and Rauner and Rutherford lead by 21 among males.
According to the poll, a mind-blowing 62 percent of men disapprove of 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 Republican candidates also are whomping the governor among independents, where they’re averaging a 56-24 lead.
The bottom line here is that the mostly union-financed TV advertising attacks on Bruce Rauner, which will supposedly kick off this week, had better do their magic and disqualify the newcomer or the kabillionaire candidate will just stay on the air until 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.