Governor Rauner still hasn’t learned his lesson from the Republican primary: Don’t take conservative and pro-life voters for granted.
The first head-to-head poll of the race for Illinois governor finds incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner faces a steep uphill battle to win re-election. The first statewide poll conducted since J.B. Pritzker won the Democratic primary just over a month ago showed Rauner trailing by nearly 18 points.
If the election were held today Pritzker would defeat Rauner 49.4 percent to 31.2 percent, according to the first Illinois poll of the general election. Another 19.4 percent of respondents were undecided or unfamiliar with the candidates.
With more than $120 million already spent through contested primaries in both parties, the race is on track to be the most expensive gubernatorial election in U.S. history, according to the most recent quarterly filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
The poll indicates Rauner has lost support in every region of the state since winning the 2014 election. In central and southern Illinois as well as the collar counties, Rauner had more than 60 percent of the vote four years ago. Now he has less than 40 percent. In suburban Cook County, his support has declined from 45.3 percent in 2014 to 23.7 percent in the latest poll.
Since the Illinois Republican primary on March 20, Rauner has also failed to win over conservative voters who feel betrayed by his support for SB31, a pro-amnesty bill that makes Illinois a sanctuary for illegal immigrants and HB40, which expands taxpayer-funded abortion.
According to the poll, the governor has yet to win over a majority of his opponent, Jeanne Ives’ voters, according to the poll. It showed only 42.2 percent of voters who picked his opponent in the primary was ready to vote for the Republican incumbent. Another 34 percent were undecided, and 23.8 percent said they would rather support the Democrat.
However, Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party establishment seem unwilling to reach out to conservative voters and party insiders say conservative voters have no choice but to support Rauner over Pritzker in the general election.
Conservative voters, which include voters who oppose abortion and illegal immigration on moral grounds, however, say otherwise. They contend Rauner has betrayed their trust and is likely to betray them again in a second term.
Conservative voters unwilling to support Rauner in the general election could support Conservative Party candidate Sen. Sam McCann, a pro-life state senator from Plainview, Illinois or not turn out to vote at all. Either way, both represent a nightmare scenario for Governor Rauner who is, as the poll indicates, 18 points behind in the latest poll.
Should Rauner stop taking conservative voters for granted? Real GOP Illinois says yes but it looks like it is already too late.