With less than two weeks left in the campaign, the Democrats running for Illinois statewide offices and U.S. Senate hold commanding leads over their GOP opponents, a new WGN-TV/Emerson College/The Hill poll found.
Although likely voters seem poised to pick Democrats for the state’s top offices, they are divided on the direction Illinois is headed. A majority of voters (52%) think things in Illinois are on the wrong track, while 48% say things are headed in the right direction.
In the governor’s race, incumbent Democrat J.B. Pritzker maintains a sizeable 9-point lead over GOP challenger, State Senator Darren Bailey, 50%-41%. Three percent of those surveyed say they plan to vote for Libertarian candidate Scott Schluter, 2% plan to support someone else.
The poll, which was conducted last week after the second and final televised debate on WGN, shows Pritzker gaining one percentage point since late September, while Bailey has gained five points in the same time frame.
Four percent of voters say they’re still undecided, down from 8% last month. When asked to make a choice, those undecided voters were split: 27% chose Pritzker, 33% chose Bailey, 5% picked the Libertarian candidate, and another 34% still said they’d vote for someone else entirely.
Among voters who say Illinois is headed in the wrong direction, three quarters (75%) plan to vote for Bailey, while just 11% say they choose Pritzker. Pritzker fairs far better among those who say the state is heading in the right direction, leading Bailey 93% to 4% among that group.
Bailey has made Chicago violence a central theme of his campaign, criticizing local Democratic leaders and labeling the city a “hellhole,” the “OK Corral,” and “Pritzkerville”.
But the Emerson College survey shows voters in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs backing Pritzker. The governor is winning 66% support among Chicago voters and 52% of voters in the surrounding suburbs. Outside the Chicago area, the advantage goes to Bailey, with 53% of voters favoring the farmer turned lawmaker from Xenia. Just 40% of likely voters outside the Chicago area support Pritzker, the billionaire heir to the Hyatt fortune.
Also adding to the Pritzker lead – a strong showing among women voters. He’s winning women voters by 23 points (57% to 34%).
In the U.S. Senate contest, incumbent Democrat Tammy Duckworth holds a 49%-39% advantage over Republican Kathy Salvi, with 8% of voters still undecided. Salvi has gained eight percentage points in the contest since last month’s poll.
Democrats lead every down ballot statewide race, but with a sizeable number of voters still undecided 13 days out, no outcome is set in stone.
In the race to replace Jesse White as Illinois’ longest serving Secretary of State, 48% of those polled say they back Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. 39% of likely voters plan to vote for Republican Dan Brady and 9% of likely voters say they’re undecided.
For Attorney General, 47% of likely voters want to give Democrat Kwame Raoul a second term. 39% say they support Republican Thomas DeVore, an attorney who has repeatedly gone to court in an effort to stop pandemic-related mandates. In this race, 9% of those polled say they’re undecided.
In the State Treasurer contest, 46% back 2-term incumbent Democrat Michael Frerichs to keep his job as Illinois’ chief investment and banking officer, while 36% support Republican State Rep. Tom Demmer. Still, 14% of likely voters say they haven’t made up their mind.
In the election for Comptroller, 49% of likely voters support incumbent Democrat Susana Mendoza, compared to 36% for Republican Shannon Teresi and 11% remain undecided.
In addition to picking elected officials, Illinois voters are also being asked to decide on Amendment 1, the so-called “Workers Rights Amendment“. It would amend the state constitution’s Bill of Rights to guarantee Illinois workers the right to organize, bargain collectively, and negotiate wages, hours and working conditions. The measure only goes into effect if it is approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the question, or a majority of those voting in the election. It appears headed towards approval, with 54% of likely voters saying they plan to vote yes, 30% plan to vote no and 16% are undecided. The proposal is most popular among younger voters, with 80% of 18 to 34-year-olds polled saying they support it.
With early voting underway in Illinois, the Pritzker and Bailey campaigns have used issues such as crime and abortion access in an effort to motivate voters to get to the polls. But, the top issue among likely voters remains the economy. 39% say it’s the most important issue driving their vote this year, with threats to democracy ranking second at 18%. Abortion access comes in third at 12%, followed by health care and crime both at 9%.
In a hypothetical 2024 rematch between President Biden and former President Trump, Biden holds a 12-point lead in Illinois, 49% to 37%. 10% would vote for someone else and 4% of voters say they’re undecided. President Biden holds a split favorability in Illinois: 46% approve and 46% disapprove of the job he is doing as president.
Methodology: The Emerson College Polling/WGN/The Hill Illinois poll was conducted October 20-24, 2022. The sample consisted of very likely voters, n=1,000, with a Credibility Interval (CI), similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.02 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, education, region, and race/ethnicity based on 2022 turnout modeling. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, education, and race/ethnicity carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using cell phones via SMS-to-web, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines, web survey via email, and an online panel.