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Poll: Durbin approved by more than half of Illinoisans, leads potential GOP rivals by double digits

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SPRINGFIELD-Even though his political plans aren't clear, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has the backing of more than half of Illinoisans and confident re-election prospects if he chooses to run again in 2014, a new poll showed Friday.

Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found that 51 percent of those surveyed in an automated poll of 500 Illinois voters approve of Durbin's job performance, while 34 percent disapprove.

Durbin, a three-term U.S. senator first elected in 1996 and who has risen to the rank of Senate majority whip, has not disclosed whether he intends to seek re-election.

In its Nov. 26-28 survey, which had a plus or minus 4.4-percentage point margin of error, the firm found that even Republicans liked Durbin. Twenty percent of GOP voters polled gave Durbin passing grades for his work in the Senate, and 13 percent went so far as to say they likely would cast votes for him in 2014.

The Republican with the most viable chance of taking on Durbin is ousted U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), but the Kenilworth Republican trails the incumbent senator by a 54- to 33-percent margin. Failed 2010 Tea Party contender Patrick Hughes lags behind Durbin by 22 percentage points (53 to 31 percent), and defeated U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh trails Durbin by 25 points at 54 to 29.

"It'll probably take either a really strong Republican figure or some sort of gaffe for Durbin to be defeated," said Dustin Ingalls, assistant to the firm's director, in a prepared statement. "Outside of that, don't expect Republicans to target this seat next time, with many other, riper opportunities on the landscape.

A breakdown of the firm's polling can be found at its website.

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