The Loras College Poll

Clinton tops Trump in Illinois, voters dissatisfied, Loras College Poll finds

DUBUQUE, Iowa— In its new survey of Illinois, the Loras College Poll finds Democrat Hillary Clinton with a lead over Republican Donald Trump.  The live-caller statewide survey of a random sample of 600 likely voters was conducted Sept. 13-16. Results for the presidential race, as well as presidential approval ratings and the direction of the country, are provided below.  Results from the survey regarding the high profile race for the U.S. Senate between the incumbent Republican Mark Kirk and the Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth will be released on Sept. 20.

Candidate preference four-way matchup

Hillary Clinton   43 percent
Donald Trump   30 percent
Gary Johnson   8 percent
Jill Stein   3 percent
Unsure   14 percent

Please note: Percentages may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.

“While the last couple of weeks have been rocky ones for Hillary Clinton, and she has seen her lead evaporate in several swing states, right now Illinois remains firmly in her column,” said Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D., associate professor of politics and director of the Loras College Poll. “Unlike some of its neighboring states, Illinois has been dependably voting for the Democratic nominee for president since 1992. While Democrats have been successful at the top of the ticket in presidential elections, Republicans have seen success statewide in Gubernatorial and U.S. Senate elections, as evidenced by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Senator Kirk.”

In a two-way matchup of just Clinton and Trump, Clinton holds a 14-point lead, 47 percent to 33 percent.  Looking at the difference between the two and the four-way ballot test provides a way to gauge potential third party impact. While the bulk of the support for Johnson and Stein in the four-way ballot race comes from those who indicated they were supporting someone else in the two-way ballot question, 6 percent of Trump supporters in the two-way ballot race switch to Johnson in the four-way race, while 4 percent of Clinton supporters in the two-way turn to Johnson in the four-way race. Stein draws below two percent from either Clinton or Trump.

“One potential positive bit of news for Trump in Illinois is that there are still quite a few undecideds. That, coupled with the possibility of attracting some of those voters who now indicate they are likely to vote for a third party candidate, means there is ground that Trump can make up.  It may be an uphill climb, however, given his unfavorable ratings. As Election Day nears, some who are currently thinking about voting for a third party candidate may find themselves grudgingly voting for one of the major party candidates,” Budzisz said.

Satisfaction with candidate choice

Likely voters were asked about their satisfaction with the choices they have available to them on the November presidential ballot.  Nearly six in 10 likely voters indicated they were dissatisfied with the choices of candidates for the election.

Satisfaction with candidates in presidential election

Very Satisfied  13 percent
Somewhat Satisfied  23 percent
Very Dissatisfied  22 percent
Somewhat Dissatisfied  37 percent
No Opinion  5 percent

Please note: Percentages may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.

Not surprisingly, dissatisfaction is greatest among those who consider themselves independents. Seventy-five percent of self-identified political independents indicate they are dissatisfied with their choice of candidates on the ballot in November. Only 18 percent of this important subgroup of the electorate is satisfied with their choices. Turning to those who identify with the major political parties, dissatisfaction is the rule of the day there as well. Fifty-six percent of Republicans report being dissatisfied, while 53 percent of Democrats report dissatisfaction with their choices in this election.

View of candidates
The new Loras Poll of Illinois also asked likely voters whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of both the Democratic and Republican candidates.  The results below indicate the net favorability of the candidates (percentage favorable opinion minus percentage unfavorable opinion). Positive numbers indicate a net favorable view, whereas negative numbers indicate a net unfavorable opinion.

Clinton and Trump both continue to struggle with the public’s perception of them. Even in the state she used to call home, 50 percent of likely Illinois voters view Clinton unfavorably, while 67 percent view Donald Trump negatively.

“This election may come down to Clinton having to focus voters on their dislike for Trump more than any effort to have voters think more favorably about her. Clinton may be banking that simply not being Donald Trump will provide her an exploitable edge for the election,” Budzisz said.

Net favorability

Candidate Net Favorability
Hillary Clinton -8
Donald Trump -40

About even numbers of Trump supporters indicate they intend to vote for the real estate mogul more out of opposition to Clinton (46 percent) than in support of Trump (44 percent). For Clinton, a majority (54 percent) indicated that their choice of Clinton was due more to support of her than opposition to Trump.

“Many voters are thinking of this election in almost defensive terms—of which outcome they most want to avoid,” Budzisz said. Fear and anxiety can be great motivators in electoral politics, and given the unfavorable ratings of both candidates this year, voting against someone may be an easier sell to voters than voting for someone. It remains to be seen if such appeals to fear and anxiety will impact voter turnout.”

A closer look at the Illinois electorate
Turning to the makeup of Clinton and Trump supporters, notable patterns emerge.  Fifty-six percent of Clinton’s support comes from females, while Trump is virtually the reverse of this, with 54 percent of his support coming from male voters.

In terms of race, Trump’s support among Hispanic and African-American voters is very small, with only 10 percent of Hispanic voters surveyed intending to vote for the real estate mogul.  Only 4 percent of African-Americans surveyed indicated they intend to vote for Trump. Unlike other neighboring states such as Iowa, the Illinois electorate has sizeable populations of Hispanic and African-American voters.

Geography is also an important element in understanding Illinois politics, with the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and City of Chicago holding substantial importance politically and economically. Downstate Illinois comprises the third geographic unit of analysis. Geographic differences in voter preference are revealed in this Loras Poll, as Clinton’s margin is strongest in the City of Chicago (64 percent Clinton to 12 percent Trump), while within the Chicago MSA the race is more competitive (42 percent for Clinton and 31 percent for Trump). There is one geographic region in which Trump holds the advantage over Clinton. In downstate Illinois Trump leads over Clinton 40 percent to 31 percent.

Presidential approval
Among partisans, President Barack Obama remains a polarizing figure. Republicans and Democrats have virtually opposite evaluations.  Seventy-six percent of Illinois Republicans disapprove of the president’s job performance, while 77 percent of Illinois Democrats approve.

Despite the polarization of partisans, Obama remains generally popular in his home state. His overall job approval rating is 55 percent, compared to 40 percent who disapprove of his job performance.  This net approval of +15 is substantially higher than what is typically seen in national polling.

 Other noteworthy results from the poll:

  • 53 percent of likely voters expect that Hillary Clinton will be elected in November, while 26 percent expect the winner to be Donald Trump.
  • 35 percent of likely voters believe the country is on the right track, with 51 percent indicating the country is heading in the wrong direction.
  • Looking at the impact of partisanship on perception of the direction of the country, Democrats are more positive than Republicans—52 percent of Democrats believe the country is on the right track compared to just 11 percent of Republicans. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared to just 33 percent of Democrats.
  • Only 24 percent of likely voters have an unfavorable opinion of both Clinton and Trump.

Notes on methodology
The Loras College Poll surveyed 600 likely voters in Illinois. The survey was conducted Sept. 13-16. Margin of error for full sample is +/- 4 percent.  Results calculated at a 95 percent confidence interval.

  • Statewide sample balanced for standard demographic variables such as age and gender, as well as by geography (City of Chicago, Chicago MSA, and Downstate). Party composition to approximate 2012 presidential electorate in Illinois.
  • Survey included both landlines and cell phones (51 percent and 49 percent, respectively).
  • Survey conducted with a random sample of registered voters (voter list purchased through a third party vendor).
  • Screen for likely voter is respondent report of “definitely” or “very likely” to vote in the November election.
  • The survey was conducted using live operator interviews through a contracted professional call center.
  • Script development and methodology received input from Republican campaign consultant Brian Dumas and Democratic campaign consultant David Heller.

For toplines and crosstabs related to today’s release, see:

The Loras College Poll is conducted several times a year, in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.  Loras College faculty and student researchers work as part of the survey research team to develop poll questions, analyze and interpret data, and assist with sharing the final results with local, regional and national media.

Visit for more on the Loras College Poll or Follow @LorasPoll or @ChrisBudzisz.

For more information about Loras College, visit, call 563.588.7100 or (800) 245-6727. Or like Loras College on Facebook or follow @lorascollege.


About Loras College
Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. Loras is ranked 11th out of the Top 100 baccalaureate colleges, according to the 2016 Washington Monthly College Rankings and the 11th Best Regional College, according to Midwest U.S. News Best Colleges.


Dr. Christopher Budzisz, Associate Professor of Politics
Office: 563.588.7279

Thomas Jensen, Public Relations Manager
Office: 563.588.7179 | Cell: 919.930.1997