Gov. Pat Quinn and GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner attend an Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly at the Chicago Hilton in April. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times
New union poll shows tight race between Quinn, Rauner
SPRINGFIELD — In a survey commissioned by Illinois’ largest teachers’ union, one of President Barack Obama’s pollsters is declaring the race between Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner “nearly a deadheat.”
Paul Harstad, with Harstad Strategic Research, gives the Winnetka Republican a slight edge, but his poll of 1,003 likely voters released Thursday gives the Quinn camp a modicum of relief since other recent polling has shown Rauner with a double-digit lead.
The Harstad poll, paid for by the Illinois Education Association and conducted using live interviews with respondents on a mix of landline and cell phones, has Rauner with 46 percent, Quinn with 42 percent and 8 percent undecided.
The poll’s margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points and was conducted between July 17 and 22.
Rauner leads Quinn by comparable margins among both men and women. Harstad found that among men, Rauner leads 47 to 42 percent, while among women his lead over Quinn stands at 46 to 42 percent.
Rauner holds a commanding 54- to 35-percent lead over Quinn among white voters, but the governor's strength lies in black and other minority voters, according to the poll.
Quinn held a 74- to 13-percent lead over Rauner among black voters and a 57- to 33-percent lead among other non-white voters.
Regionally, the governor leads Rauner by a 65- to 25-percent margin among Chicago voters and also is ahead of Rauner in suburban Cook but not by as comfortable a spread: 47 percent to 42 percent.
Elsewhere, Rauner leads in the collar counties 53 to 35 percent but has a much wider margin south of I-80 among Downstate voters, who prefer Rauner over Quinn by a 60- to 29-percent spread. In areas northern downstate areas, Rauner's lead was 51 to 37 percent.
Rauner also leads Quinn in all income levels, including those with household income of less than $50,000, a demographic Quinn and Democrats have targeted with their push for a hike in the minimum wage. Among that grouping, Rauner leads 49 to 42 percent. Rauner's lead over Quinn hovers around 20 percentage points in homes with household of between $50,000 and $100,000 and over $100,000, the poll found.
Quinn leads Rauner in union households by a 50- to 36-percent margin. In homes where a public school employee lives, Quinn leads Rauner by a 50- to 41-percent spread.
The IEA endorsed Quinn earlier this month.
“This poll is much closer, and it’s a lot more extensive. This reflects what we believed consistently: that this is a very, very close race and will continue to be so,” said Charlie McBarron, a spokesman for the IEA.
"It's impressive that the governor trails by just 4 percentage points going into August after $13 million has been spent against him," he said. "It's going to be a fight to the finish."
McBarron also put more stock in the union poll over an automated automated We Ask America poll released Monday that showed Rauner ahead of Quinn 47 to 33 percent.
“I think the 14-point poll is an outlier, to say the least,” he said.
Harstad was among a group of pollsters Obama used in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and was the lead pollster on his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois.