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September 15, 2008

Kirk Up, Seals On The Air

Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk represents one of the most Democratic districts of any Republican in Congress, but he knows how to stay popular. A new poll for Kirk's campaign shows a rematch between Kirk and his 2006 opponent may end up being a safer race than the last time out, when Kirk won by seven points.

The poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, surveyed 300 likely voters between 9/10-11 for a margin of error of +/- 5.6%. Kirk and 2006 Democratic nominee Dan Seals were tested among a sample made up of 34% Democrats, 35% Republicans and 31% independents and others.

General Election Matchup
Kirk........51 (-2 from last, 6/9)
Seals.......29 (-3)

Kirk has good favorable ratings; 63% of respondents said they see him favorably, while just 20% view him unfavorably. That's higher even than Barack Obama's favorable rating. Voters in the district see the home-state senator favorably by a 59% to 32% margin.

Seals is known by far fewer voters, as just 36% say they see him favorably and 15% view him unfavorably. Both Kirk's and Seals' images could change soon, though, as Seals begins running his second ad of his campaign.

We haven't seen a lot of candidates criticizing their opponents direct to camera this cycle, but Seals takes a shot in his new spot, in which he hits Kirk for his ties to the Bush Administration. "Sometimes you have to have the courage to say no," Seals says. "Mark Kirk has been there for George Bush. He helped Bush write the language that sent our troops to the war in Iraq."

While it's rare to have a contrast ad featuring one candidate talking about another, running advertisements in the Chicago media market isn't cheap. Seals' campaign may have decided to get the double benefit of introducing their candidate while taking down the other guy. Then again, trailing by the margin by which Seals trails could also call for a risk here or there.