The Grand Old Partisan of Illinois

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Playing the Percentages

This morning, Rich Miller (with a hat-tip to Archpundit) posted some more numbers from the St. Louis Dispatch/KMOV-TV poll pitting Governor Blagojevich against prospective GOP nominees Judy Baar Topinka, Jim Oberweis, and Ron Gidwtiz. This poll reveals some important facts (I hesitate to use “poll” and “facts” anywhere near each other, but for lack of a better word…..) about the “electability gap” between Ms. Topinka and her next closest rival, Mr. Oberweis (Incidentally, my spell check wanted to make this into a “delectability gap,” which might be a whole different contest altogether). Specifically, the two things that jump out at me are the gap between “independent” support of Topinka and Oberweis, and the difference in Dem support of Blagojevich depending on who his GOP opponent is.

Both Topkina and Oberweis receive support from only 5% of Dems, so crossovers may not be the strength her supporters claim it may be. However, they both receive almost the same percentage of support from Republican voters. So all the talk of the "base" (whatever that means in Illinois) staying home in November depending on what happens in March may be a little overstated. The real difference between Oberweis and Topinka seems to be their support among independents. The Governor only enjoys a 5% (45-40) lead over Topinka in this category, but his lead increases to 33% when Oberweis is the hypothetical GOP nominee (the gap between Blagojevich and Gidwitz among independents is even greater, but perhaps less relevant as his profile is still largely unknown or ignored by most voters, despite all his advertising efforts to date). Illinois is undeniably a state where Democrats enjoy a solid numerical majority over Republicans, so if the GOP nominee cannot be competitive among independents and convince a large enough portion of Dem voters that (for whatever reason) it isn't worth either voting for the Dem nominee or against the GOP nominee, then the race is really over before it begins and all the talk of crossovers or “base” mobilization become akin to debating the arrangement of the Titanic’s deck chairs.

As noted above, crossovers will probably not be a significant factor according to the poll. However, there is a 7-10% difference in Dem support for the Governor depending on who his opponent is. The lack of any other high profile/competitive race on the ticket may mean that some Democrats may stay home on Election Day if they aren't particularly wild about Blagojevich or don't find the GOP nominee too objectionable. This poll shows that a significant portion of those potentially apathetic Dem voters are more enthusiastic about (and perhaps more likely to come our and vote for) the Governor if the nominee is Oberweis or Gidwitz rather than Topinka.

Some of the more vocal Republican pundits are certainly exaggerating when they say there is no significant or salient difference between Blagojevich and Topinka – and Republican voters clearly see that. But Democrat and independent voters clearly see a difference between Topinka and Oberweis (and Gidwitz) – a difference that could give us four more years of “no more business as usual.”

Also posted at the Illinoize

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