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Poll: Older Voters More Likely to Approve of Rauner (and Less Likely to Be Affected by the Budget Crisis)

Downstate voters are more likely to approve of his performance, and of how things are going where they live—but they’re also much less likely to like it there.

Bruce Rauner tours the 1871 tech incubator in Chicago.   Photo: Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune

I love crosstabs. Below the numbers that are the point of the poll, behind the big headlines, you can often find interesting marginalia about life, quantified—and, sometimes, they serve as the foundation for the big questions at the top of the poll.

While looking for something else, I stumbled across a March poll on the governor’s performance from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The big (if unsurprising) finding, was that voters had become “more polarized” in their views of the governor, with predictable differences based on region, and that a massive majority, 84 percent, thought the state was heading down the wrong track.

But down in the depths there are some interesting numbers.

Overall, the numbers for Rauner were not great—50 percent disapproval, 41 percent approval, and nine percent undecided, a bad break from 2015, when it was 37 percent approval, 31 percent disapproval, and 32 percent undecided.

But one group still approves, if by just a hair.

Rauner Favorability, by Age

34 or younger
34%
 
 
41%
35-50
37%
 
 
54%
51-65
39%
 
 
55%
66 or older
47%
 
 
46%
 
 
Approve
 
Neither
 
Don’t know
 
Disapprove

Perhaps it’s related to this: The pollsters asked, “Have you or someone in your immediate family been affected by the Illinois budget stalemate?” As they pointed out, the majority has not been directly affected, and suggest this goes some way towards explaining why the crisis has been allowed to drag on for so long.

And the group that most approves of Rauner is the least likely to be affected by the stalemate.

Have You Been Affected by the Budget Stalemate?

34 or younger
59%
 
33%
35-50
60%
 
37%
51-65
57%
 
40%
66 or older
69%
 
24%
 
 
No
 
Other/don’t know
 
Yes

Rauner is, as you might expect, much less popular in Chicago than elsewhere. In the city, his approval/disapproval split is 34 percent to 58 percent, compared to 43/47 in the suburbs and 43/49 downstate. And Chicagoans are the only group of voters who think that things in their area are going in the wrong direction. Suburbanites and downstate residents, despite their dissatisfaction with the state generally, are happy with their localities.

How Are Things Going in Your Area?

Chicago
36%
 
58%
Chicago Suburbs
53%
 
38%
Downstate
53%
 
38%
 
 
Right direction
 
Don’t know/other
 
Wrong direction

Except… Chicagoans are actually happier living in Chicago. When asked “taking everything into account, would you say the overall quality of life in your area is…,” they were more likely to answer “excellent” or “good,” in dramatic contrast to downstate residents.

How Is the Quality of Life Where You Live?

Chicago
19%
 
 
 
6%
Chicago suburbs
15%
 
 
 
5%
Downstate
6%
 
 
 
7%
 
 
Excellent
 
Good
 
Average
 
Not so good
 
Poor

One more set of crosstabs caught my eye, not for what it says about the state or its governor, but about politics and life more generally. The pollsters threw in a question about whether America is going in the right direction. No group is thrilled, but there’s a big difference between millennials and everyone else.

Is the Country Going in the Right Direction?

34 or younger
40%
 
50%
35-50
26%
 
66%
51-65
31%
 
64%
66 or older
27%
 
65%
 
 
Right direction
 
Don’t know
 
Wrong direction

But that’s nothing like the crosstabs on race and the country’s direction.

Is the Country Going in the Right Direction?

White
25%
 
68%
Black
45%
 
44%
Hispanic
48%
 
48%
Other
46%
 
38%
 
 
Right direction
 
Don’t know
 
Wrong direction

Even with the tenor of national politics being what it is right now, blacks and Hispanics were evenly divided on the question. There was no such ambiguity from white Illinois voters.

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