In the Senate race between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias—a contest labeled “a toss-up” by Rasmussen—a leading political prognosticator in Washington gives the edge to the 10th District congressman.

Stuart Rothenberg—a frequent guest on Sunday morning talk shows, an on-air election night analyst, and editor of the Rothenberg Political Report—is one of the go-to guys for nonpartisan predictions of political races. (The other is Charlie Cook). He said despite the résumé scandal that has dogged Kirk since Memorial Day weekend, the congressman should win in November.

“This cycle is bad for the Democrats and particularly bad for Illinois Democrats,” Rothenberg added, citing the ongoing Blagojevich trial, among other things. If the economic numbers in September and October are clunkers, then, he said, the Democrats are in big trouble. 

“Unless there is another question about Kirk’s integrity, character, which would change everybody’s opinion about him,” Kirk should emerge the winner, the analyst said.

With his inexplicable embellishments to an excellent résumé, Kirk took a race that Rothenberg says should have been a “laugher”—given Giannoulias’ inexperience and his family’s failed Broadway Bank—and turned it into a “competitive contest.” 

Would it help Giannoulias if Obama campaigned for him? Yes, says Rothenberg. While Obama is a liability in some states, “he is still an asset in Illinois,” especially if he can excite the base and rally African-American voters to vote. 

Rothenberg cites a Gallup poll that shows Illinois comes in tenth among the states in approving the job Obama is doing. (D.C. is at the top of the list, with 85 percent supporting the President, and Illinois is tenth, at 54 percent. Obama gets his lowest numbers in Wyoming, at 29 percent).

Bill Clinton would be a better campaign asset for candidates, Rothenberg added, calling Clinton “the biggest draw for Democrats.” The former president has plenty of friends and fans here, and no one—not even Rush Limbaugh—has figured out a credible way to blame Clinton for the jobless rate or the budget deficit.