The Loras College Poll

Duckworth with edge on Kirk, Illinois voters ‘sour’ on direction of state, Loras College Poll finds



For Immediate Release
Sept. 20, 2016

DUBUQUE, Iowa —  In the high-profile contest for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, the new Loras College Poll finds Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth with a five-point edge over incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. The live-caller statewide survey of a random sample of 600 likely voters was conducted Sept. 13-16.

The U.S. Senate race in Illinois is vital in the contest for control of the U.S. Senate. To take majority control of the chamber, Democrats need a net gain of four seats in the Senate if Democrat Hillary Clinton is elected president, and a net gain of five seats if Republican Donald Trump is elected.

“The Illinois Senate seat has been a high priority for the Democratic Party and its efforts to win back the Senate,” said Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D., associate professor of politics and director of the Loras College Poll. “The prospect of Democrats retaking the chamber will dim if they are not able to secure a victory against Senator Kirk.”

Candidate Preference: U.S. Senate

Tammy Duckworth    41   percent
Mark Kirk    36   percent
Unsure    22   percent

Percentages may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.

Net Favorability
The new Loras Poll of Illinois asked likely voters whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidates for U.S. Senate. 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 would indicate a net unfavorable opinion.

Candidate Net Favorability
Tammy Duckworth +12
Mark Kirk +4

In addition, 31 percent of likely voters indicated they had no opinion of Kirk, and 22 percent held no opinion of Duckworth.

“The numbers of undecided and those who have yet to form an opinion of Kirk, coupled with his net favorable rating, mean this race is not over.  Add in the general volatility of this year’s campaign season, and the next several weeks could be interesting in Illinois,” Budzisz said.  “That said, Duckworth holds some real advantages—including that this is a presidential election year and that tends to help Democrats in a state such as Illinois.”

Direction of state
Respondents were also about the direction of Illinois. Likely voters were asked whether or not they believe the state is on the right track or if it’s headed in the wrong direction. The Illinois electorate is exceptionally pessimistic about their state, as 75 percent of respondents indicated the state was going in the wrong direction.

“The mood among Illinoisans is particularly sour these days,” Budzisz said. “With continued political strife in Springfield, a difficult economic picture for the state, as well as the enduring fiscal pressures on state government, it’s no wonder there is a strong sense that the state is headed in the wrong direction.”

Direction of Illinois  
Right Track 14 percent
Wrong Direction 75 percent
Unsure 11 percent

Other noteworthy results from the poll:

  • Kirk appears to have more crossover appeal than Duckworth, as 22 percent of self-identified Democrats indicate they intend to vote for the Republican Kirk, compared to 13 percent of Republicans supporting Duckworth.
  • Turning to those who view themselves as political independents, Duckworth has the edge over the incumbent. Duckworth receives support from 41 percent of independents compared to Kirk’s 29 percent.
  • Not surprising given the partisan divide on these issues, those who approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance and/or believe the country is on the right track are more likely to support Duckworth than Kirk.
  • 20 percent of Trump supporters are undecided when it comes to the choice between Kirk and Duckworth, compared to only 12 percent of Clinton supporters who remain undecided on the Senate race.
  • Turning to support within regions of the state, Duckworth has a clear advantage in the City of Chicago (54 percent to 21 percent), while Kirk leads Duckworth Downstate (41 percent to 32 percent), and in the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area the two split support nearly evenly, 41 percent Duckworth to 39 percent Kirk.

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