As we showed yesterday, there is some concern about keeping the Illinois governor’s mansion in Democratic hands, but its senior U.S. Senate seat is probably safe, as long as its current occupant, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, wants it. More than half of Illinoisans (51%) approve of Durbin’s job performance, and about a third (34%) disapprove. In a generic re-elect test, Durbin gets 52% of the vote to an unnamed Republican’s 38%.
Durbin is in such good shape because 20% of Republicans support his work in the Senate, and 13% of them say they will probably vote for him in two years. Independents are split right down the middle on both fronts, including 42-42 on the re-elect.
Faced with actual opponents, Durbin does even better, though slightly more Republicans and independents are undecided than Democrats. Outgoing Rep. Bob Dold comes closest to matching the ideal Republican’s standing, with a 21-point deficit (54-33). Failed 2010 Tea Party contender Patrick Hughes is down 22 (53-31), and retiring Rep. Joe Walsh lags by 25 (54-29).
In all three actual head-to-heads, Durbin maintains the same 13% of the GOP’s support as he gets on the generic ballot, and outdoes his 82% level with his own party by two or three points. The main difference is with independents. He jumps up two to five points with them for leads of nine points over Dold and Hughes and 18 over Walsh.
Granted, Hughes is a complete unknown—88% have no opinion of him, so he is truly generic. Still only 46% have an opinion on Walsh (14% favorable and 32% unfavorable), and 49% on Dold (21-28). So they stand more to gain than Durbin does. But when name recognition is equalized at this point, Durbin’s advantage actually increases to leads of 25 to 35 points, and that is because these three Republicans are not popular even with the folks who are already familiar with them. So it'll probably take either a really strong Republican figure or some sort of gaffe for Durbin to be defeated. Outside of that, don't expect Republicans to target this seat next time, with many other, riper opportunities on the landscape.
Full results here