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Poll shows Quinn’s numbers rising, Rauner leading GOP

SPRINGFIELD — A new poll shows next year's governor's race is a toss-up, wealthy private equity investor Bruce Rauner leads the four-way GOP gubernatorial field and Republican Treasurer Dan Rutherford is the only member of his party positioned to defeat Gov. Pat Quinn in a one-on-one contest.

Beyond those findings, Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in Raleigh, N.C., described Quinn as among the least popular governors in America, though his standing among Illinois voters has improved slightly from one year ago.

Quinn is embraced by only 34 percent of voters, with 60 percent disapproving of the governor's job performance. Last year at this time, Quinn's job performance was endorsed by a microscopic 25 percent, with 64 percent turning thumbs down on how he was doing in office.

Quinn only does well among African-American voters, of whom 58 percent approved his job performance while 32 percent disapproved. Among white voters surveyed, Quinn had only 30-percent favorability, with 65 percent disapproving of his job performance. And with Hispanic voters, 31 percent approved of Quinn, while 60 percent disapproved.

"Pat Quinn continues to be one of the most unpopular governors in the country, but the Democratic lean of the state is enough to still make him neck and neck in hypothetical contests with the Republicans vying to take him on next fall," said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling.

In the four-way Republican race for governor, Rauner had 24 percent backing from likely GOP voters, compared to 17 percent for state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, 14 percent for Rutherford and 10 percent for state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale. Thirty-six percent of those GOP voters surveyed, however, were undecided on the race.

The polling went on to show that among GOP voters describing themselves as very conservative, Brady led the Republican field with 21-percent approval, with Rauner at 11 percent, Rutherford 15 percent and Dillard at 7 percent.

But Rauner led among self-described moderate Republican voters, winning backing from 33 percent of those surveyed, compared to 23 percent for Rutherford, 14 percent for Brady and 10 percent for Dillard.

And by gender, Rauner was favored by both men and women more any of his Republican rivals. Twenty-three percent of Republican women favored him, compared to 19 percent for Brady, 11 percent for Rutherford and 7 percent for Dillard.

Among Republican men, Rauner had backing from 24 percent, compared to Brady and Rutherford, who both stood at 15 percent, and Dillard at 13 percent.

In theoretical match-ups with Quinn, the firm found that Rutherford was the only Republican ahead of the governor, leading Quinn by a 41-39 percent margin. Quinn led Rauner by a 41-38 percent margin and tied both Brady and Dillard at 41 percent and 39 percent respectively.

The survey also showed Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not a beloved figure across Illinois. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed statewide had a favorable opinion of Emanuel, compared with 46 percent that viewed the mayor unfavorably. Nineteen percent were unsure.

The firm's automated telephone poll surveyed 557 Illinois voters between Nov. 22 through the 25th. Of that total, 357 were usual Republican primary voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percent for the overall poll and plus or minus 5.1 percent for the Republican sample.

Quinn, Rauner lead in Ill. gubernatorial poll