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« Chabot Leads In Cincy | Blog Home Page | Dem Way Up In GOP Seat »

Kirk Looks Strong

There are fewer incumbents who better fit the description of a paranoid incumbent than Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk. The moderate whose district sits just north of Chicago won his first term with just 51%, and after two easier elections won a fourth term in 2006 with just 53% of the vote. This year, a new poll for his campaign shows, Kirk leads his 2006 opponent by a much wider margin.

The poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates for Kirk's campaign, surveyed 300 likely voters on 6/9 for a margin of error of +/- 5.6%. Kirk and advertising executive Dan Seals were tested among a sample that included 35% Democratic respondents, 33% Republican respondents and 32% independents or others.

General Election Matchup
Kirk...........53 (+3 from last, 3/08)
Seals........32 (+3)

A one-day poll is not a standard survey length, and Democrats will make an issue out of the numbers. Most pollsters will conduct their surveys over multiple days to ensure that one news story or event doesn't weigh too heavily on the sample's mind. Too, the sample size is relatively small.

But Kirk's lead is easily outside the margin of error, and his favorable rating is a strong 67% to 16%. Seals' approval rating is 39% compared with 16% who see him unfavorably, a good ratio for a challenger, though he will have to bring up his name identification before he closes the gap with Kirk.

A moderate, Kirk is not likely to be cast as in lock step with Congressional Republicans or President Bush. And though John Kerry and Al Gore won the district in both 2000 and 2004, Kirk has been on the ballot with hometown favorite Barack Obama before, winning 64% of the vote when Kerry beat Bush by a 53%-47% margin in the district.

Still, Democrats are optimistic that they will eventually take the district back. Seals beat out a former Clinton Administration official in the Democratic primary in February, but if he can't knock off Kirk this time around, it may be the last time Seals makes a bid for Congress.