Voters think Illinois is headed in wrong direction

By Shannon Allen, @ShannonAllen_DE

Southern Illinois voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s performance and the nation’s direction, according to a recent Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll.

The over-the-phone poll was completed by 401 voters from the 18 southernmost counties in Illinois.

Almost 80 percent of registered voters in the region feel the state and nation are misguided, and fewer than 15 percent think that Illinois and the U.S. are making progress, according to the poll.


“These results probably reflect some of Illinois’ current conflicts,” said John Jackson, a visiting professor, in the institute’s press release. “Most polls show that more people feel their state is doing better than the nation, but not here.”

Although approximately 35 percent of voters strongly disapprove of Gov. Rauner’s performance, about 36 percent somewhat approve Sen. Dick Durbin and 43 percent do not know enough about Sen. Mark Kirk to have an opinion on his policies.

“Kirk has a lot of health problems that keep him from getting around,” said Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Director David Yepsen. “This could be why so many people feel that they don’t know anything about him.”

Kirk suffered an ischemic stroke in January 2012, according to Kirk’s site. An ischemic stroke occurs when an obstruction prevents blood from reaching the brain, according to the American Stroke Association.

Yepsen said he thinks because southern Illinois is heavily dependent on government funding for universities, prisons and health care for the poor, voters do not agree with the state and how the Governor chooses to spend money. 

Illinois did not pass a state budget by its July 1 deadline because of disagreements among Republican and Democratic lawmakers. In addition to other cuts, Gov. Rauner’s administration has proposed stricter eligibility guidelines for social services like child care and programs for the elderly or disabled.

Travis Washington, a junior from Flossmoor studying communications, is one of the many voters who does not support Rauner’s policies. Washington is also an undergraduate student government senator who represents 21 black student organizations on campus.


“I respect Rauner, but I did not support him cutting $400 million from Illinois universities,” Washington said. “This was very devastating to public universities.”

Yepsen said he thinks voters here are, and will continue to be, in a bad mood.

“All you have to do is look at the disapproval rates to see that voters are not happy,” Yepsen said. “People in general are not content with the way this country is being run.”

Shannon Allen can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ShannonAllen_DE