Tuesday, October 20, 2009

With his big bucks, Giannoulias is in a “tie” for next year’s Senate election

There are those people who want to believe that “guilt by association” with now-impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich will cause many Democrats to go down to defeat come Election Day, but a pair of surveys make me wonder if continued screeching of Milorod’s name will be enough to benefit the GOP.

All the people who typically give cash to political campaigns are making the U.S. Senate bid of Alexi Giannoulias the biggest-funded of the field. Some of it is people playing it safe, but it also shows a significant sense that Alexi’s mind is not the only place where Giannoulias ought to be regarded as the front-runner.

THERE ALSO WAS the latest poll conducted by the Rasmussen Report, which shows that Giannoulias is in a tie with possible Republican frontrunner Mark Kirk.

Even if Giannoulias were to somehow lose the primary in February and run against one of the other Democrats with dreams of being a United States senator, Kirk only has a slim lead – the kind that could easily wither away on account of the fact that there is more than a year until the November 2010 general election.

Could it be that Illinois, with its two-thirds of the population that lives in the Chicago area, has just become so urban and Democrat leaning that no one should be thinking of the GOP congressman from the North Shore suburbs as some sort of political big shot?

It was the thought that popped into my head after learning of a pair of surveys of sorts.

THERE WAS THE Rasmussen Report, that showed Kirk and Giannoulias each getting 41 percent of the vote, if the election were to be held now. Thirteen percent said they had yet to make up their mind, while the remainder were people who are so devoted to another candidate that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either.

But then there also was an Associated Press survey of the leading Democratic candidates for the Senate seat now held by Roland Burris.

Giannoulias’ campaign is coming up with the big bucks that will make it competitive, regardless of what is thrown at it. In short, unless Giannoulias turns out to be a complete incompetent, he’s going to have the resources to define himself – instead of being defined as a corrupt banker (which is the image that Kirk and GOP partisans would like to see become reality, similar to how Judy Baar Topinka in 2006 was nothing more than the kook who danced the polka with George Ryan).

According to the wire service, Giannoulias raised $1.1 million between July and September, while only spending $345,000. On Sept. 30, his campaign fund reported to the Illinois State Board of Elections that its balance was $2.4 million.

NONE OF GIANNOULIAS’ primary challengers even come close to being able to produce that kind of money. In fact, the only other candidate with a balance exceeding $1 million was attorney Jacob Meister, a fringe candidate who came up with $1.04 million by taking out substantial loans.

The two significant challengers to Giannoulias in the Democratic primary raised about one-third the total of what the Illinois treasurer came up with.

David Hoffman, the former Inspector General for Chicago city government, took out a $500,000 loan to give himself an $837,000 campaign fund, while Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Robinson Jackson raised $367,000 during the summer months, and had $318,000 on hand.

What will be the end result of all that money?

HONESTLY, I CAN’T get past the idea that the two are in a tie, despite the presence of Blagojevich. If it were truly as big a factor as hard-core Republican partisans dream about, I’d think polls would be constantly showing Kirk as a leader.

The Rasmussen Report survey taken prior to this latest survey only showed him with a slim lead – 41 percent to 38 percent, so close that it falls within the “margin of error” and deserves to be called a tie.

Now, we get a poll that shows a literal tie.

When it comes to breaking down the results, it seems like the standard partisan breakdown. Women prefer Giannoulias while men prefer Kirk. But didn’t women prefer Barack Obama in 2008, compared to men thinking more of John McCain?

IN FACT, WHAT may be the most interesting part of this study is the one that shows Jackson gaining on Kirk, if it were to turn out to be a general election campaign between the two, with Giannoulias getting to enjoy a few final months as state treasurer before lingering in political retirement for at least a couple of years.

In that potential campaign, Kirk would beat Jackson 43 percent to 39 percent if that election were held today. But the same 13 percent remain undecided, and that same 5 percent thinks so little of both that they’d seek somebody else.

He used to lead Jackson by 17 percentage points in Rasmussen Reports polls. Could it be that there are a significant number of people in this state who will reject the Republican label, regardless of who runs under it?

Or could the only real truth to all this political prognosticating be that at 13 months prior to the general election, it’s still too early to be trying to figure out who will win?


EDITOR’S NOTES: Alexi Giannoulias won’t lose the 2010 election cycle due to a lack (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=35841&seenIt=1) of campaign cash.

The existence of Rod Blagojevich may make next year’s Election Days close, but is (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections2/election_2010/election_2010_senate_elections/illinois/election_2010_illinois_senate_election) Illinois too “blue” for Mark Kirk?

Will Barack Obama become a help or hindrance to Giannoulias’ (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/17/AR2009101701427.html) Capitol Hill aspirations?

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