Shock Poll: Trump Within 6 in Illinois

Survey also shows written-off GOP senator trailing by just 2 points

by Brendan Kirby | Updated 22 Sep 2016 at 8:11 AM

Republican Donald Trump is within 6 points of Democrat Hillary Clinton in President Obama’s home state, a poll released Wednesday suggests.

The survey by Emerson College, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points, shows Clinton leading Trump 45 percent to 39 percent in Illinois. The state’s Democratic challenger for the Senate, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, leads incumbent Republican Mark Kirk by 2 points. That is closer than other polls; most observers consider Kirk the most endangered incumbent senator running for re-election this year.

The survey found similar results in the presidential race in Wisconsin, with Clinton leading 45 percent to 38 percent.

Spencer Kimball, who conducted the polls, said the results fit a familiar pattern he has seen in other states — Clinton continues to struggle with voters who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries and caucuses. In Illinois, only 53 percent of Sanders voters said they would vote for Clinton. Trump, meanwhile, has the support of 60 percent of the voters who cast ballots for Sens. Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio in the primary. Clinton gets less than 7 percent of Rubio and Cruz voters.

"Cruz and Rubio supporters have basically come home, or they're going to [Libertarian Gary] Johnson," Kimball said. "They're not going to Clinton."

Obama carried Illinois by 17 points in 2012, and a Loras Collage poll released this week gave Clinton a 13-point lead in the Land of Lincoln. Loras pegged Duckworth's lead in the Senate race at 5 points.

Close Contests
Poll taken Sept. 19-20
Illinois
Clinton45%
Trump39%
Wisconsin
Clinton45%
Trump38%
Source: Emerson College

Kimball said he still expects Clinton to win Illinois but the 6- and 7-point margins in states where a Republican has not won Electoral College votes since 1988 and 1984, respectively, further illustrate how much larger the electoral map may be this election.

Kimball said for Trump to actually win Illinois or Wisconsin, he would have to both hope Clinton fails to close the deal with skeptical Sanders supporters and peel votes away from Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. In the Emerson poll, he took 15 percent of Sanders voters in Illinois, while 15 percent went to Johnson and 12 percent preferred Stein.

"The more those voters go to Johnson and Stein, the better Clinton does," he said.

Kimball said support for third-party candidates that shows up in pre-election polls tends to melt away by the time voters actually cast ballots. If that happens, he said, Clinton is more likely to benefit.

A similar dynamic is at work in the Senate race, Kimball said. He said the 2-point margin is mainly due to the fact that 11 percent of respondents said they would vote for someone else and an additional 9 percent were undecided. The Libertarian and Green Parties both have candidates on the ballot, but neither is well-known or well-funded. He said the fundamentals favor Duckworth — she has a 37 percent favorable rating, compared with just 27 percent of voters who approve of Kirk.

"Kirk's in a bad place," Kimball said.

The Wisconsin Senate race looks even bleaker for the GOP. Incumbent Republican Ron Johnson trails former Sen. Russ Feingold by 10 points.

"That Senate race looks like Feingold will pick it up," he said.

  1. 2016 election
  2. 2016 presidential race
  3. Donald Trump
  4. hillary clinton
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