Illinois Republican Primary Voters are still conservative

Three and a half years ago a poll was commissioned from a company in Virginia of likely Illinois Republican primary voters in order to get a sense of where they stood on the major issues facing the state. It was conducted between January 29 and February 1, 2006, and the results confirmed to those of us in our office that most GOP voters were conservatives.

The fact that almost half of those same voters choose the moderate Ron Gidwitz or the liberal Judy Baar Topinkaon primary election day ’06 was easy enough to understand: those voters never got the message that Topinka and Gidwitz weren’t conservative. Still too few conservative statewide campaigns in Illinois successfully get their message across properly. Often it’s a lack of resources, often it’s just plain incompetence.

The polling news from the Pat Hughes for U.S. Senate campaign is that things are probably looking even better today for conservative candidates than they did four years ago. Now it’s up to the conservative Hughes to run the kind of campaign that effectively reaches GOP primary voters with the information they need. From all accounts he has the ability and the right message.

Reports I hear tell me that Hughes is the only Republican candidate who regularly connects with his audience. Political passions are currently high, and it takes more than the same old rhetoric to move TEA Partiers and mainline conservatives. They’re looking for someone who shares their emotion. But they’re also looking for a credible campaign that can actually win.

The polling data released this week by Market Research Insight for Hughes is posted below. Read it and be encouraged. But remember – this is a big state geographically with almost 13 million people. Campaigns are expensive – and if Illinois Republican primary voters are to make the right decision they’ll have to be informed.

A couple of weeks ago I expressed my view that Pat Hughes is the only candidate who can mount a winning campaign against the liberal Mark Kirk. If you agree, it’s time for you to do your part. Of course that goes for all the candidates you support in the various races.

Don’t think that all the good guys and gals can win without your financial support. Big dollar donors are loved, but so are small dollar donors. Remember the Obama campaign last year – small donations do add up. After I post this – I will be getting out my credit card and clicking on the donate button on the websites of the candidates that have my support – especially those running statewide.

Here is the MRI report – with a few points of emphasis added.


Dr. Verne Kennedy with Market Research Insight completed a telephone survey of 500 likely Republican Primary voters who have voted in recent Republican Primaries and also said they plan to vote in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate in 2010. The survey provides an error factor of 4.5% at the .95 level of confidence. Interviews were conducted Monday and Tuesday, September 14 and 15, 2009.

Survey results are very encouraging for a Republican Primary campaign by Patrick Hughes against Mark Kirk. Highlights of the survey include:

  • Republicans voters in Illinois are not satisfied with the performance of Republicans in Congress. Only 39% were satisfied while 43% were dissatisfied with Senators and Representatives of their own party. In addition 53% said the Republicans were not aggressive enough in standing against President Obama and only 11% thought they were too aggressive.
  • In response to an open ended question, 47% said the main problem in Illinois was government corruption followed by 19% saying too much government spending.
  • Republican Primary voters labeled themselves as 69% conservative and only 26% moderate. Positions on important issues also show the conservative nature of Republican voters.
  • 63% oppose the Cap and Trade Bill with only 12% supporting it.
  • 69% were pro-life compared to 25% pro-choice.
  • 75% support the Second Amendment and believe individuals have the right to own and bear arms with only 19% wanting more gun control.
  • 83% support the U.S. military “surge” to help defeat the terrorists in Iraq with only 9% opposed.
  • 58% oppose same sex marriage with 28% in favor.

One question asked: “I am going to describe for you two possible Republican candidates for U.S. Senate. Let’s call them Candidate A and Candidate B. Candidate A is a moderate Republican, a veteran, a U.S. congressman, he is pro-choice and supports gun control. Candidate B is more conservative, prolife, a businessman, and a supporter of the right to bear arms. Which Candidate, A or B, would you be more inclined to support?” Responses were Candidate A = 21%, and Candidate B = 69%.

Mark Kirk has 65% total name recognition with only 27% favorable and 10% unfavorable. Kirk has a favorable to unfavorable opinion ratio of only 2.7 to 1.

Candidates with opinion ratios of 2.5 or lower have considerable less than a 50% probability of election success depending on the quality of the opponent.

This is based on MRI’s 30 years of polling experience involving over 1,000 campaigns. Kirk’s opinion ratio indicates that the Congressman could have significant difficulty reaching the vote percent necessary to win the Republican Primary. Patrick Hughes is less well known with 24% total recognition but he enjoys a favorable to unfavorable ratio of 9 to 1.

In a ballot question with seven candidates, Kirk received only 23% vote and 68% were undecided even though the Congressman has 65% name recognition. In a match-up between only Mark Kirk and Patrick Hughes results were: Kirk 24%, Hughes 11% and 64% undecided. It is significant that Kirk does no better against one opponent than against six opponents. It can be concluded that Kirk has a base vote of only 24%.

When asked “If most of the top Republicans in Washington got behind and supported Mark Kirk for Senate would that encourage you more to vote for or against Mark Kirk,” only 19% said that would encourage them a “lot” to vote for Kirk and 24% said encourage them a “little” with 13% wanting to vote against Kirk because of the Washington support and 44% saying the Washington support for Kirk would make no difference to them.

When voters were told that Congressman Kirk was one of only eight Republicans who voted for the cap and trade energy bill, 68% said that makes them more likely to vote against Kirk.

One of the most important findings in the survey dealt with voter opinion when they learn that Congressman Kirk received major donations from groups supporting his votes on important bills. The question read: “If you learned that Congressman Mark Kirk voted for legislation supported by lobbyists who gave the Congressman hundreds of thousands of dollars, would that make you more likely to vote for Kirk, vote against Kirk, or make no difference at all in your choice for U.S. Senate?” Sixty-two percent said that would make them more likely to vote against Kirk.

Overall, survey results show that Congressman Kirk would have a difficult time winning an election for Senate if challenged by a newcomer to politics who is more conservative than the Congressman. When Kirk and Hughes were described without using their names, 69% favored the description of Hughes and only 21% favored the description of Kirk.