Daily Egyptian

SIU election experts break down polls, predict blue win

By Shannon Allen

Recent polls taken by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute show the state is leaning left.

Retiring director of the institute David Yepsen joined political science professor Ken Mulligan, SIU debate team director Todd Graham and Paul Simon Institute visiting professor John Jackson in a discussion about where Illinois voters stand regarding the Nov. 8 general election.

During the public forum Wednesday night at the Student Center, Yepsen said that, according to a statewide poll taken by the institute earlier this month, 53 percent of voters plan to or already voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, while 28 percent chose Republican nominee Donald Trump.

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“It’s important to remember no poll is a prediction of an outcome,” Yepsen said. “It’s a picture of public opinion at a given time.”

Although Trump is doing well downstate with 40 percent of the votes, he is not doing as well as he should be, Yepsen said. Meanwhile, Clinton has 67 percent of the vote in the historically blue city of Chicago.

The Democratic Party and presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton on stage during the last day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Thursday, July 28, 2016. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

The Democratic Party and presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton on stage during the last day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Thursday, July 28, 2016. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Jackson said 55 percent of those polled disapproved of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s job, yet all of the components of Rauner’s turnaround agenda are popular.

But social issues such as abortion, right to life, pro-choice and same-sex marriages are not popular topics on the Republican agenda, he said.

The poll also showed 84 percent of voters believe Illinois is moving in the wrong direction — a 76 percent increase from a previous institute poll— and 47 percent said they want to leave Illinois.

“This is not exactly a great report card for the people who have been running the state on both sides of the lecture,” Jackson said.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 17, 2016, in Springfield. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 17, 2016, in Springfield. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Mulligan said, as a political scientist, he is often asked about decisions Trump has made throughout the campaign.

“I don’t know anyone who can explain Donald Trump — least of all me,” Mulligan said.

Although he does not believe Trump can win, Mulligan is still voting for him.

“Since 1952, no candidate has been as much ahead as Clinton is now and gone on to lose the election,” Mulligan said. “At this point, it would take a really big October surprise for the election results to look different than what we are expecting today.”

Graham said primary debates have a bigger effect on elections than general election debates because voters have more options in the primaries.

“When you’ve got 10 Republicans on stage and a Republican you want to vote for was unimpressive, you still have nine other Republicans to choose from,” Graham said. “In a general election debate, when your Republican has a bad debate, you’re still going to vote for the Republican.”

Graham said Trump did not start performing poorly during the debates until it was down to four candidates on stage.

“At this point, he had more time to talk and people could see whether or not he had good ideas,” Graham said. “The debates made a difference in votes because they kept Trump from gaining ground.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center, speaks on the debate stage at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Wednesday. (TNS)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center, speaks on the debate stage at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Wednesday. (TNS)

They also discussed the U.S. Senate race where U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, is leading Sen. Mark Kirk by 14 percentage points.

Yepsen said the institute’s polls are beneficial because they fit with the research mission of the university.

“We’re not just a bunch of political junkies playing around with polls up here,” Jackson said. “This is something we see as a useful tool for students and academic researchers.”

Staff writer Shannon Allen can be reached at 618-536-3326, [email protected] or on Twitter @ShannonAllen_DE.

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