SPRINGFIELD — Southern Illinois voters are far from pleased about the direction of the state and nation, according to a poll released Monday by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
About 80 of respondents thought the nation (78.8 percent) and the state (79.8) are headed in the wrong direction.
However, about half (50.9 percent) think their city or area is headed in the right direction.
“These results probably reflect some of Illinois’ current conflicts. Most polls show that more
people feel their state is doing better than the nation. Not here,” said John Jackson, a visiting
professor at the institute.
Political leaders also got lukewarm reviews, according to the Simon Institute.
Slightly more than 37 percent (37.4) of respondents somewhat approved or strongly approved of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s performance, while 50.7 percent somewhat disapproved or strongly disapproved. Roughly 12 percent said they did not know.
“Though Democrats and Republicans are evenly distributed in our southern Illinois sample, this is still a conservative area, and one might have thought of it as fertile ground for Gov. Rauner,”
said Charlie Leonard, one of the Institute’s visiting professors supervising the poll.
For Rauner’s “approval ratings to be ‘upside down’ in southern Illinois this early in his administration may not bode well for the pro-business agenda he’s been trying to push,” Leonard said.
The Rauner administration had its own viewpoint.
“The status quo continues to hurt Illinois, and in the past decade of one-party rule the state has led to more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs lost and a $5 billion structural deficit, which is why the state needs the reforms outlined in the Turnaround Agenda,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in an e-mail.
“The governor will judge his performance by his ability to reform state government to grow the economy and create jobs while helping the most vulnerable,” she said.
The Simon Institute said U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s job-approval rating was 30.4 percent, with 22.9 percent disapproving.
Nearly half of the respondents (46.6 percent) said they didn’t know how they feel about Kirk, a native of Champaign who now lives in Highland Park.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, scored approval ratings that exceeded his disapprovals, but not by much.
Half of the respondents (50.6 percent) approved of Durbin’s performance and a third (33.5 percent) disapproved. Sixteen percent said they did not know.
“Voters here have been in a bad mood and they continue to be,” said David Yepsen, director of Simon Institute.
“The only surprise is how many people don’t have an opinion about Sen. Kirk. For a
statewide Republican incumbent to have such ambivalent ratings down here isn’t a good sign for him as he heads into a tough re-election campaign,” Yepsen said.
Kirk “needs to be running well in this area to offset Democratic strengths elsewhere in the state,” Yepsen said.
The Kirk campaign says the senator is doing fine in Southern Illinois.
"Southern Illinois voters clearly approve of Senator Kirk's efforts to create and retain jobs in Illinois as well as his fight to lower taxes and reduce spending," said Kirk spokesman Kevin Artl.
The Simon Institute’s Southern Illinois Poll interviewed 401 registered voters across the 18
southernmost counties in Illinois.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. This means that if we were to conduct the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances the results would vary by no more than plus or minus 4.9 percentage points from the results obtained.
Live telephone interviews were conducted by Customer Research International of San Marcos,
Texas. No auto-dial or “robo-polling” polling was included. The survey was paid for
with non-tax dollars from the Institute’s endowment fund.
Mark Fitton is a reporter for the Illinois News Network, a division of the Illinois Policy Institute.