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« Looking Ahead To 2010 | Blog Home Page | Field Report: Two Approaches »

Polls Show Tight Race For Hastert Seat

Sometimes it pays to lose a campaign. In some cases, a loss can set up a candidate well for the next time he or she makes a bid. That's what businessman Jim Oberweis is hoping as he seeks to replace retiring Speaker Dennis Hastert in the suburban Chicago district. Still, two polls taken recently show, while Oberweis begins the primary in good position, he is no shoe-in for the nomination.

The first poll, taken for Oberweis's campaign from the respected Republican firm McLaughlin & Associates, shows the two-time Senate candidate and 2006 gubernatorial candidate leading his GOP opponents, two of whom have an elected base within the district. Hiring McLaughlin brings extra benefits to the Oberweis campaign; the pollster also worked for Hastert, and would presumably donate his institutional knowledge of the district.

The poll, conducted 10/16-18, as Oberweis launched the cycle's first television ads, also surveyed State Sen. Chris Lauzen, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and Rudy Clai. A total of 333 Republican primary voters were surveyed for a margin of error of +/- 5.4%.

Primary Election Matchup
Oberweis 41
Lauzen 37
Burns 3
Clai 0
Other/undec 19

Fav/Unfav
Oberweis 63 / 19
Lauzen 50 / 6
Burns 11 / 6

On the other hand, a separate poll taken last month on Lauzen's behalf shows similar numbers. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, Lauzen's long-time pollster, between 10/22-23. 300 likely primary voters were surveyed, for a margin of error of +/- 5.6%. Lauzen, Oberweis and Burns were tested.

Primary Election Matchup
Lauzen 38
Oberweis 38
Burns 4

Fav/Unfav
Oberweis 63 / 20
Lauzen 55 / 5

In both polls, Lauzen and Oberweis are well within the margin of error for first place. That's good news for both candidates, though both have the ability to drop significant amounts of their personal fortunes into the race.

The winner will face the winner of a Democratic primary between 2006 nominee John Laesch, attorney Jotham Stein, businessman Joe Serra and scientist Bill Foster. Foster, who is also independently wealthy, is considered the favorite. Come November, the race to replace Hastert will likely be one of a few around the country in which both candidates trigger the so-called millionaire's amendment, making the race incredibly expensive for both parties.