Lynn Sweet caused some ears to perk up yesterday when she reported that Mark Kirk was "poised" to jump in the 2010 U.S. Senate race. The timing seemed about right -- after all, he told reporters several weeks ago that he would make a decision by the end of the month. However, ...
Lynn Sweet caused some ears to perk up yesterday when she reported that Mark Kirk was "poised" to jump in the 2010 U.S. Senate race. The timing seemed about right -- after all, he told reporters several weeks ago that he would make a decision by the end of the month. However, Sweet later changed her brief report to insead describe him as "mulling" a Senate run, which is nothing new. And a 10th District conservative blog writes this morning that they don't expect any announcement today. (As an aside, our daily e-mail incorrectly reported yesterday afternoon that Kirk had "confirmed" his Senate bid. We apologize for the error.)
On the Democratic side, quite a few Senate surveys have surfaced since Rep. Jan Schakowsky released her primary poll on Monday. On Wednesday, Public Policy Polling released the results (PDF) of a push-button survey which found the following in a three-way primary between Schakowsky, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and incumbent Sen. Roland Burris:
Now let's compare those numbers to the Schakowsky phone poll conducted by Lake Research Partners:
Giannoulias makes quite a jump between those two sets of results. There's simply not enough polling data on this race to determine who's the outlier here, however the demographic data gives some indication of why the findings were so different -- particularly, the ideological breakdowns. In the PPP poll, 52 percent of respondents described themselves as moderates, while 34 percent described themselves as liberal. In the Lake Research poll, by contrast, only 34 percent self-identified as moderates, while 44 percent called themselves liberal. Why does this matter? Because in both polls Schakowsky performs best among liberals, while Giannoulias does better among moderates.
You'll also notice that there are quite a few more undecideds in the Lake poll than in the PPP survey. Considering the difference in methodologies, this isn't surprising. It's common for automated polls to find a lower number of undecideds than those conducted by live interviewers. Pollster.com's Mark Blumenthal wrote about this correlation -- and the various theories regarding it -- several years ago.
Both pollsters also released surveys this week on potential general election match-ups. PPP's survey (PDF) found Burris severely trailing Kirk (19%-53%), Schakowsky lagging slightly (33%-37%), Giannoulias neck-and-neck (35%-35%), and Lisa Madigan leading him (49%-39%). Kirk has to be encouraged by these numbers. At the same time, it will be interesting to eventually see a poll pitting him against some potential Republican competitors (of which there don't seem to be any at the moment). After all, the conventional wisdom has been that Kirk would be competitive statewide but would have a tough time winning a GOP primary.
(UPDATE: Archpundit makes a good point: "Those numbers aren’t quite as encouraging for Republicans as they may seem to be though. In each case only 19% of GOP voters are undecided, while more than 30% of Democratic ones are.")
While it appears unlikely that Madigan will jump in the Senate race, her broad popularity in these polls is pretty impressive. Case in point: In a general election versus Kirk, Schakowsky and Giannoulias both attracted under 10 percent of the Republican vote and trailed him among independents. By contrast, Madigan attracted 24 percent of the GOP respondents and led Kirk 44%-32% in the independent column.
Finally, Schakowsky's camp released another Lake poll yesterday afternoon showing her leading Kirk in a head-to-head matchup:
Keep in mind that this poll was conducted December 20-22, while the PPP survey detailed above was conducted April 24-26.
(UPDATE II: More from Capitol Fax: "[I]f you take a closer look you’ll see that her own poll shows her initially leading Kirk 23-20. Only when 'leaners' are factored in did her December lead expand to 36-30.")