Friday, November 30, 2012

Quinn the most unpopular governor? Let’s not give him that much credit

It always amuses me whenever I see a poll saying that Gov. Pat Quinn’s approval ratings are dismal.
QUINN: Apathy, not disapproval

I don’t doubt that they are. But I also can’t help but snicker at such polls, including one published this week by Public Policy Polling that says Quinn is the “most unpopular governor” in the nation.

FOR IT JUST seems that some people don’t really get the political dynamic involved in Illinois, particularly with that of Quinn. We don’t hate the man. We really could care less about him personally, except for the conservative ideologue types who are still bitter that their preferences are so far out of the Illinois mainstream.

The fact is that there are four officials who are at the top of the political pyramid in this state – the mayor of Chicago, the two U.S. senators from Illinois and our state’s governor.

Yet when  it comes to the politically aware amongst Chicagoans, it is always clear that the governor is easily Number Four among them in priority. He’s the one we care the least about – and that is true regardless of which person actually holds the position.

So for me to think that there’s anything about Pat Quinn that makes him so despised? I really have to ask, “What makes you think he’s so special?”

FOR THE RECORD, the new poll I referred to says that Quinn only has the approval of 25 percent of Illinois residents who were surveyed – with another 64 percent of people saying they “disapprove.” The remainder, I presume, are too preoccupied with other things to care. Although you could argue that  even most of the “64 percent” are apathetic when it comes to state government.

Or maybe they think we’re asking about the appellate court judge Pat Quinn – whom I remember from his days a couple of decades ago when he was one of the top assistant state’s attorneys at the courthouse in suburban Markham.

The same poll also compares Quinn to various prospective political candidates (both of the “D” and “R” persuasion), and finds Quinn lacking.

Although I couldn’t help but notice that the number of “undecideds” is high for all the questions that pitted Quinn up against a GOPer. All of which means that the 2014 election cycle could well turn out like the 2010 version.

A CHICAGO-AREA MAJORITY of voters wound up casting ballots for the Democratic candidate in Quinn, rather than the Republican William Brady whose conservative rhetoric on so many issues wound up offending them.

Perhaps if he had piped down just a bit, we’d have “Gov. Brady” these days and Quinn would be off in political retirement.

Quinn won then because the opposition got people to actually pay attention to the race and decide it was important to them to defeat the Republican opposition who was trying to demonize the city’s image. It could easily happen again.

If anything, Quinn’s vulnerability is in the primary election – and only if someone decides they’re willing to risk a bloody partisan political fight amongst Democrats. Which is a long-shot, no matter what ego-stroking rhetoric they spew right about now (although a part of me has always wondered what Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is waiting for – she’s not a “kid pol” any longer).

ALTHOUGH THERE COULD be problems there. Most of the people who most vehemently whine and cry about Quinn are those who want something of a rural bent to our political scene (they see 96 counties versus six, rather than two-thirds of Illinois’ population living in the six urban counties).

Those people aren’t going to get all excited about the idea of the son and brother of a “Mayor Daley” deciding to run for Illinois governor – even though certain Chicago-based political geeks used to fantasize about what it would be like if we could have a Mayor Daley (as in Richard M.), a Gov. Daley (as in William) and a Cook County Board president (as in John) all at the same time.

That’s too much Daley for anyone to comprehend – and it’s not going to happen.

But so much of these polls are so early and there are so many factors that will kick in that ultimately will get the bulk of those Democratic partisans to cast their votes in their reliable manner.


It’s probably people who aren’t really concerned about Quinn one way or the other – combined with Republican partisans whose real objection is that the whole wide world doesn’t cast ballots in a knee-jerk partisan manner favorable to their political party.


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