SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Governor J.B. Pritzker enjoys a “comfortable lead” over a group of largely unknown Republican primary challengers who have yet to make much of a name for themselves, according to a pollster who touts his firm as the “most accurate polling company in Illinois.”
“We released a poll before the 2020 election and before the 2018 election, and we got Pritzker’s election four years ago,” Victory Research pollster Rod McCulloch said. “I think we were 1.2% off.”
“We were right on the money on the Fair Tax in 2020, and the Trump vs Biden race, just 1% off,” he said.
The new poll, which was conducted from January 18th to January 20th, surveyed 1,208 likely Illinois voters and has a 2.82% margin of error.
More than half of the voters surveyed — 51.7% — said Pritzker has earned another term in office. Another 43.3% said he hasn’t, while 5% said they were undecided on whether the billionaire Democrat should have a second term in office.
While McCulloch’s business conducts internal campaign polling for Democrats and Republicans, this poll was independent and not paid for by any campaign.
“I guarantee J.B. Pritzker didn’t hire me,” he laughed, adding that his personal political views are “probably more conservative on some issues.”
When his firm broke down the Republican primary field, asphalt and paving magnate Gary Rabine came out on top, though the polling had just started the day after Aurora mayor Richard Irvin jumped into the contest.
Head to head matchups:
- Pritzker 52.4% vs Gary Rabine 28.4% (Pritzker +24)
- Pritzker 55.2% vs Darren Bailey 27.4% (Pritzker +27.8)
- Pritzker 53.1% vs Jesse Sullivan 22.4% (Pritzker +30.7)
- Pritzker 53.1% vs Richard Irvin 21.6% (Pritzker +31.5)
- Pritzker 55.5% vs Paul Schimpf 22.2% (Pritzker +33.3)
The pollster concluded all of the GOP challengers “suffer from a lack of name recognition outside of Republican parties.” With five months to go before the primary election in late June, a lot could still change.
“It’s not a prediction,” McCulloch said of the poll results. “That’s the most common misconception.”
With polls coming under increasing scrutiny in recent years, he says voters should read poll numbers with the understanding that they are merely a sampling of the public thought during one snapshot in time, and they are not intended to predict how those thoughts can evolve or change in the future.
Regardless, the Rabine campaign celebrated the results as more evidence that their candidate is emerging as the party’s frontrunner.
“We’re encouraged, but not exactly surprised,” Rabine spokeswoman Molly Archibald said. “We haven’t even gotten Gary downstate yet.”
She pitched Rabine as a candidate “who can win, and who cannot be bought,” painting a contrast between state senator Darren Bailey and Aurora mayor Richard Irvin.
The campaigns for Irvin, Bailey, Sullivan, and Schimpf did not respond to the poll results.
“We’re just ramping up our campaign now,” Archibald said, predicting another fundraising bump after leading the field in fundraising in the last three months of 2021. She expects Rabine, who was a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the federal vaccine mandate, could see another boost in donations and visibility after the victory at the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Taking on Biden and Pritzker has really made an impact,” she said. “Voters know you have to elect a conservative who can win all over the state.”
She acknowledged the path to victory is an uphill battle.
“Yes, Pritzker’s around 50%,” she said, “but anytime you’re around 50, you’re in the danger zone.”