SPRINGFIELD – Heading into the fall of 2007, Illinois Senator Barack Obama holds a commanding lead over New York Senator Hillary Clinton as the choice for the 2008 Democratic nomination among potential Illinois primary voters. On the Republican side, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani holds a narrower but still sizeable lead, with more candidates on his heels. These are the results of a statewide survey of randomly selected Illinois households conducted from late July through early September by the Survey Research Office of the University of Illinois at Springfield.
The Democratic statewide race. Obama has a lead over Clinton of 51% to 27% among respondents who said they would take a Democratic ballot in the primary. His margin is the same when the voting pool is expanded to include all those who were asked the Democratic preference questions (50%-26%). [This includes Democrats and independents leaning Democratic who did not say what party ballot they would choose.] Obama's lead decreases only slightly when the voting pool is narrowed to those who indicated they are "very likely" to vote in the primary (49%-27%). Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards is a distant third in all of these groups, at 6%. About 13-14% in all these groups have no opinion.
Among "strong" Democrats, Obama's lead over Clinton is 54% to 27%, with Edwards at 4%. Among others who are possible Democratic primary voters, Obama's lead over Clinton is 48% to 24%, with Edwards climbing to 8%. Fewer "strong" Democrats have no opinion (11% vs. 17% for others).
The Republican statewide race. Giuliani has a lead of 34% to 19% over Arizona Senator John McCain among respondents who said they would take a Republican ballot in the primary. Following in a close race for third are former Tennessee Senator and actor Fred Thompson (12%) and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (11%). Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee garners nearly 6%. About 14% have no opinion. (It should be noted that the survey was completed prior to Fred Thompson's formal entry into the race and prior to former Illinois Governor James Thompson's endorsement of Giuliani.)
Giuliani's margin over McCain drops a bit when the voting pool is expanded to include all those who were asked the Republican preference questions (30%-19%). [This includes Republicans and independents leaning Republican who did not say what party ballot they would choose.] The same decrease in his margin occurs when the pool is narrowed to those who indicated they are "very likely" to vote in the primary (31%-18%). These drops are a result of a small decline in Giuliani's support rather than an increase in McCain's. Among "very likely" voters, Fred Thompson's support increases to 15% while Romney is at 12% and Huckabee at 4%. About 17% have no opinion.
The Republican race differs when the strength of Republican identification is taken into account. For "strong" Republicans, Giuliani holds a lead of 35% to 18% over Fred Thompson. Romney is at 11%, McCain at 10% and Huckabee at 9%. About 12% have no opinion.
For possible Republican voters who are not "strong" Republicans, Giuliani holds a narrow 27% to 24% lead over McCain. Following are Romney (11%) and Fred Thompson (nearly 10%). Texas Congressman Ron Paul (nearly 4%) and Huckabee (3%) are next. One in five (20%) have no opinion.
Further results. Further results from these presidential preference questions – including patterns by selected demographic characteristics and accompanying tables – as well as more detailed information about the methodology can be found on the website of the UIS Survey Research Office at http://cspl.uis.edu/SurveyResearchOffice/.
The survey and methodology. The telephone survey was conducted over a six-week period, from July 24 through September 4, 2007, by the Survey Research Office, located in the Center for State Policy and Leadership, of the University of Illinois at Springfield. The entire survey consisted of interviews with 1,028 randomly selected Illinois households.The Democratic presidential preference question series was asked of 514 respondents (sampling error of +/- 4.4%) while the Republican presidential preference question series was asked of 374 respondents (sampling error of +/- 5.1%). For those who actually indicated which party's ballot they would choose, the sampling errors are +/- 4.5% for the Democratic preferences (n = 479) and +/- 5.6% for the Republican preferences (n = 313). For those who indicated they are "very likely" to vote in the primary, the sampling errors are +/- 4.9% for the Democratic preferences (n = 410) and +/- 5.8% for the Republican preferences (n = 286).