Polls show voters skeptical of traditional parties, Whitney gaining ground

By Gus Bode

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues to lead the way in the polls leading up to the Nov. 7 election, even though many voters are reporting disenfranchised feelings about the traditional parties.

In a poll of 600 likely voters conducted by the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV over the weekend, Blagojevich received 44 percent support, Republican candidate Judy Baar Topinka received 29 percent support and Carbondale resident and Green Party candidate Rich Whitney garnered 13 percent support. Another 13 percent were undecided, and the poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Those results were mirrored in a poll conducted Oct. 16-22 by the Daily Herald and one published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sunday. The Daily Herald poll found Blagojevich favored by 48 percent of voters, Topinka by 32 percent, Whitney by 12 percent and 8 percent were undecided.

Advertisement

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll showed Whitney gaining 4 percentage points from a poll conducted Oct. 8-11, with most of his supporters wanting to protest the traditional party candidates. Among independent voters surveyed in the poll, Whitney garnered 24 percent support, Topinka received 29 percent and Blagojevich received 28 percent.

In early October, WGN AM 720 afternoon drive host John Williams conducted his own online poll, and 70 percent of the listeners responded saying they would rather vote for “Zippy the Squirrel” than Blagojevich or Topinka. Zippy is a fake candidate Williams created for the poll.

Zippy’s showing in the informal poll could be attributed to grime of the gubernatorial campaign. The campaign trail has been littered with nasty ad campaigns, mud slinging and unanswered questions.

Topinka has lashed out at the governor, accusing him of corruption – Blagojevich’s daughter received a $1,500 check from a political contributor, his top fundraiser, Tony Rezko, has been indicted on corruption charges. Blagojevich is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Blagojevich has countered by linking Topinka to former Republican Gov. George Ryan, who was convicted of federal corruption charges in April. Topinka announced last week that former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar would lead her transition team if elected, and Blagojevich called the move an attempt to cover up her bad record of cutting health care, refusing to raise the minimum wage and not expanding pre-school.

Government corruption has been the most contentious and disheartening issue of this gubernatorial campaign for the voters.

In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll, 32 percent of voters thought Blagojevich would do a better job cleaning up government corruption, and 27 percent thought Topinka would do a better job. But 29 percent said neither candidate would do a better job.

Advertisement

The Republicans and Democrats had largely dismissed Whitney earlier on the campaign trail, but his recent jump in the polls and voter disenfranchisement could make him a factor in the election.

Representatives from the Blagojevich and Topinka campaigns and Whitney did not return phone messages.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Brandon Augsburg can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 262 or [email protected]

Advertisement