The Democratic governor primary is a toss-up between Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes as controversy over an inmate early release program and an imploding state budget cut into the governor’s once-sizable advantage, a Tribune/WGN-TV poll has found.
On the Republican side, three candidates are in a tight battle ahead of the Feb. 2 primary. Former state GOP Chairman Andy McKenna, former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan and state Sen. Kirk Dillard lead the field, but none reached 20 percent, according to the new poll.
The results show that with an early primary election coming little more than a month after the new year, candidates who placed a premium on extensive and expensive TV advertising are seeing dividends as prospective voters began tuning in to the upcoming election.
Each of the surveys, conducted Jan. 16-20, also indicate that results for this primary could depend on last-minute voter appeals through TV, radio and campaign get-out-the-vote efforts.
Among Democrats, Quinn’s better than 2-to-1 lead over Hynes in a Tribune survey six weeks ago has evaporated amid concerns about the unelected incumbent’s ability to handle the job. The poll of 601 likely Democratic voters showed Quinn with 44 percent and Hynes with 40 percent — within the survey’s 4 percentage point error margin. Thirteen percent of the voters were undecided.
While the gap has narrowed, I believe those four points are significant. Both of these candidates have character. I still favor Quinn.