It occurred to me when I was in Chicago the other day that the media furor about billionaire mogul Donald Trump’s insistence that he be allowed to hang 20-foot-high letters spelling out his name on his new skyscraper is pretty much the same sort of mindset behind Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign to tag “Billionaire Bruce Rauner” as a rich, out-of-touch, right-wing white guy.
So, I commissioned a poll. While a majority actually agree that Trump had the right to hang his letters, he’s not popular here, and voters don’t think that people like him can understand regular folks.
The June 25 Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of 1,033 likely Illinois voters found that just 38 percent have a favorable view of Trump while 42 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. His numbers were worse in Chicago and suburban Cook County, where voters are far more Democratic and where the recent “giant letters” controversy was centered.
Just 23 percent of Chicagoans and 25 percent of suburban Cook residents had a favorable view of Trump, versus the 52 percent of Chicagoans and 56 percent of suburban Cook residents who had an unfavorable view. His favorable vs. unfavorable ratings among African-Americans were 27-46 and 38-43 among whites. His highest favorable ratings were among Republicans 53-23, downstaters 47-34, collar county residents 44-38 and independents 43-37. The poll had a margin of error of ±3.05 percent.
But a large majority agreed with Trump when asked: “This month, Chicago’s mayor and many others criticized Mr. Trump for placing what they called “garish” 20-foot-tall letters spelling out his name on his new downtown Chicago skyscraper. Trump said it was his right to do so.”
The poll found that 61 percent of Illinoisans sided with Trump, while just 29 percent sided with Trump’s critics. Democrats were split 44-45 on the issue, African-Americans sided with Trump 47-41, as did 57 percent of Chicagoans, 56 percent of suburban Cook residents, 69 percent of collar county residents, 61 percent of downstaters, 80 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents.
Taken in this context, it’s easy to understand Rauner’s endlessly repeated emphasis on his $18 watch and his Harley Davidson motorcycle.
It also helps explain Rauner’s announcement last week that he was supporting some long-time liberal populist proposals to close several “corporate loopholes” and to slap an inheritance tax on the transfer of yachts and jets to surviving spouses.
Rauner cannot risk being “Trumped” by Quinn. On the other hand, Quinn apparently believes he needs to paint Rauner as a local version of the cartoon character that Trump has become. It obviously works well here.
• Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.