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Miller: Poll numbers paint Madigan unfavorably

Published: Monday, April 21, 2014 9:22 p.m. CST

A poll taken for Rasmussen Reports earlier this month found that Gov. Pat Quinn's unfavorable rating was 55 percent.

That's pretty darned bad, and perhaps the worst in the nation. But Gov. Quinn ain't got nothing on Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll found Madigan's unfavorable rating to be an almost mind-boggling 65 percent.

Just 20 percent of likely voters had a favorable impression of the longtime House Speaker. Years of negative publicity, the state's many, many problems, the Republican Party’s decades-long accusations that he’s holding the state back and Madigan's historically long tenure are all undoubtedly driving these horrible numbers.

According to the poll, 55 percent of respondents would be less likely to vote for a local candidate if that candidate was supported by Madigan. That number alone ought to give the House Republicans reason to hope. All of Madigan’s candidates could be hurt this year because of the mere fact that Madigan is backing a Democrat.

When asked whether Madigan has been a help or a hindrance to the state's economic and fiscal recovery, 65 percent said he's been a hindrance, while just 20 percent said he's been a help.

Ouch.

Even Democrats don't like the guy. Fifty percent of Democrats say they have an unfavorable view of Madigan, versus 30 percent who view him in a favorable light.

According to the poll, a plurality of 38 percent of Democrats said they'd be less likely to vote for a Madigan-backed candidate, with 33 percent saying they'd be more likely and 29 percent saying it would make no difference.

And a majority of 51 percent of Democrats said Madigan has been a hindrance to the state's recovery, with just 31 percent saying he's been a help, and the rest, 18 percent, saying he hadn't made a difference either way.

Men are more likely to dislike Madigan than women. Seventy percent of men (versus 60 percent of women) view him unfavorably. Sixty-three percent of men (versus a plurality of 48 percent of women) would be less likely to support a Madigan-backed candidate. And an overwhelming 72 percent of men (58 percent of women) think Madigan has been a hindrance to the state's economic and fiscal recovery.

Chicagoans don't much care for Madigan , either, but their ire pales in comparison to what the rest of the state thinks of him. Fifty-seven percent of Chicagoans have an unfavorable opinion of Madigan, while 63 percent of suburban Cook County voters, 66 percent of downstaters and 72 percent of collar county residents have an unfavorable opinion of the longest serving House Speaker in Illinois history.

A plurality of 36 percent of Chicagoans would be less likely to vote for a Madigan-backed candidate (34 percent would be more likely), while 60 percent of suburban Cook and downstaters and 62 percent of collar county voters would be less likely to vote for such a candidate.

A strong majority of 56 percent of Chicagoans believe Madigan has been a hindrance to the state's economic and fiscal recovery, while 65 percent of suburban Cook voters, 66 percent of downstaters and 70 percent of collar county voters say the same.

Seventy percent of whites have an unfavorable view of Madigan, 60 percent of whites would be less likely to vote for a Madigan-backed candidate, and 69 percent of whites say he has been a hindrance to progress.

Among African-Americans, a plurality of 46 percent have an unfavorable view of him, they're split 38-38 on whether they'd back a Madigan-supported candidat, and 50 percent say he's been a hindrance to progress, compared to 34 percent who say he's helped.

Independents really, really don't like Madigan. Seventy-seven percent have an unfavorable opinion of him (topping Republicans' 73 percent). 64 percent would be less likely to vote for a Madigan candidate (less than Republicans' 72 percent). And 74 percent say he's been a hindrance to the state's progress (about the same as the Republicans' 75 percent).

The obvious point here is that Madigan has become the perfect bogeyman. After decades of persistent effort, he's now known by enough people to potentially change the outcomes of campaigns, and not in a positive way. Gone appear the days when not enough people knew who he was to matter when voters headed to the polls.

Also, if Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner decides to incorporate attacks on Madigan into his campaign theme, it'll probably work.

The poll of 836 likely voters was taken April 14 and had a margin of error of ± 3.4 percent.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.

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