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Foster Ahead Of Oberweis

In the race for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's exurban Chicago Congressional seat, scientist Bill Foster, a Democrat, has taken the lead, a poll conducted for his campaign claims. A Foster win in the March 8 special election would be national news, marking the first time since 1994 when a Speaker of the House was replaced by a member of the opposite party.

The poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group, was conducted of 402 voters who said they were likely to cast ballots in the special election. The survey, conducted between February 21-24, had a margin of error of +/- 4.9% and tested Foster and businessman Jim Oberweis, the winner of the February 5 GOP primary. The sample consisted of 41% Republicans, 32% Democrats and 21% who said they were independents.

General Election Matchup
Foster 45 (+2 from last, 2/6-10)
Oberweis 41 (-4)

Foster is seen in a more favorable light by those who have yet to decide than Oberweis. Among that group, Foster is viewed favorably by 46%, while just 10% see him unfavorably. After a contentious GOP primary, Oberweis' numbers are lower, at 34% favorable to 25% unfavorable.

While Republicans have questioned the poll's integrity, a Foster spokesman told Politics Nation that the general election matchup was taken at the top of the poll and after only screening questions and party identification questions. Asking about a matchup after biographies are read to respondents can skew a poll's results; that was not the case in this survey. The party identification breakdown, reflecting the district's heavily GOP tilt, compared with the general election results also indicates that the contest is a real race.

It seems trite to say the election hinges on turnout, but for the first time in the history of the state of Illinois, voters will head to the polls on a Saturday, causing many to fear a low-turnout election, making results unpredictable. Whichever candidate has the best turnout operation will win, and both campaigns claim theirs is best.

This race will continue for a while, though: Foster and Oberweis not only secured their party's nominations for the March special, they also won nods to represent their parties on the November ballot. By then, one will have the power of incumbency.