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Elections 2010, IL 5th House

Illinois 2010 Elections: New Poll Says State Rep. Ken Dunkin Faces “Classic Signs of an Incumbent in Trouble”

David Schroeder

(Chicago, IL) — December 3, 2009. State Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) faces an uphill struggle to keep his seat if Democratic primary opponents attorneys David Schroeder and Gwendolyn Drake gain traction.

Voters in Dunkin’s district have a dim view of his job performance, according to a new poll by Washington D.C.-based Lake Research Partners taken for Schroeder.

The poll* reveals that 32% of voters have a “fair or poor” view of Dunkin’s job performance while just 37%  view his performance as “excellent or good” and 31% have no opinion at all.

Uh, oh.

“These are classic signs of an incumbent in trouble. Despite his several years in office, Dunkin’s image is remarkably thin and his job performance mixed among the Democratic base,” wrote Daniel Gotoff and Jason Kravitz in a polling memo on December 1.

The poll memo authors also note:

“Just 35% of Democratic primary voters would re-elect Dunkin, leaving nearly two-thirds who would either consider someone else (22%), vote to replace Dunkin (8%), or don’t know (35%). The typical range of viability on this metric of an incumbent’s political health is between 40% and 50% – and that is among General election voters.  Dunkin fails even to breach this threshold of support among the primary voters who should comprise his political base.”

However, what the memo ignores is the mother’s milk of polling–the horse race numbers. There are no head-to-head numbers among the three candidates.

Schroeder Campaign Manager Erik Wallenius wrote in an e-mail, “Gwen Drake and David Schroeder, are newcomers … we believe the head-to-head numbers from this poll are not terribly meaningful…”

What that means is that Dunkin is way ahead of either Schroeder or Drake.

Dunkin’s numbers may be dismal, but you can’t beat somebody with nobody. And at the moment, both Schroeder and Drake are nobodies in the minds of the district voters. If Schroeder or Drake expect to overtake Dunkin, they have around 60 days to do it.

In the next 60 days, they have to dump a ton of money into direct mail to raise their profile and credibility and another ton of dough in direct mail to take Dunkin down. It can be done. But it takes money and time.

Schroeder is raising money. Drake is raising money. But will they have enough?

And there is the time. The limited time–the 60 days on the calendar until February 2, 2010–limits their room to grow, communicate their messages, and maneuver.

Time is Ken Dunkin‘s key asset in the race.


*Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey, which was conducted by telephone using professional interviewers.  The survey reached 400 adults, 18 years or older, in Illinois’ 5th Assembly District who are registered and likely to vote in the 2010 Democratic Primary Election.  The survey was conducted between November 3rd and November 9th, 2009.  The margin of error for this survey is +/-4.9%.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and Huffington Post blogger, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.


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David Ormsby, Editor

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