SPRINGFIELD-With only one in four Illinois voters approving his job performance, Gov. Pat Quinn is the least popular in the country and would lose in head-to-head pairings against two of three Republicans eying his job in 2014, a newly commissioned survey found Thursday.
The Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm found that just 25 percent of voters in Illinois approved of the work Quinn is doing, while 64 percent disapprove of his job performance -- a level of support that the company said made him "the most unpopular governor [it] has polled on anywhere in the country this year."
If a general election were held today, Quinn would lose to state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) by a 44- to 37-percent margin and to state Treasurer Dan Rutherford by a 43- to 39-percent margin, the firm reported.
If matched up against U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), another Republican considering a run for governor, Quinn would win narrowly by a 40- to 39-percent spread.
"Quinn's unpopularity puts the Republicans in a position where they could win despite the fact that none of them are very well known," said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling.
An aide to Quinn defended his tenure and acknowledged his efforts at dealing with difficult subjects, like Medicaid reform, facility closures and tax increases, have not been popular -- even if they are in the best interests of state government.
"Gov. Quinn is doing what's right for Illinois and to make our state a better place," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. "After decades of fiscal mismanagement and two corrupt governors in a row, Illinois now has no-nonsense ethics laws, a shrinking unemployment rate and less discretionary spending than ever before because of Gov. Quinn.
"He's leading the state in its most difficult moment. What's required right now is a lot of hard decisions and bold leadership, and it's not easy and immediately popular but we're doing what's right," she said.
In a September poll released by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Quinn's approval rating stood at 42 percent, up a notch from a 35.5 percent approval rating recorded by the institute in October 2011.
Beyond measuring how Quinn might match up against potential Republican opponents, the Public Policy Polling survey also showed the governor is vulnerable in a primary, though no Democrat has stepped forward and openly declared he or she is planning to take on Quinn in 2014.
The firm found that Quinn would trail Bill Daley, the ex-U.S. Commerce Secretary and former Mayor Richard M. Daley's brother, by a 37- to 34-percent margin, and the spread would be even wider if Attorney General Lisa Madigan would take on Quinn, the firm said.
In a hypothetical matchup, Quinn would trailer her by a 64- to 20-percent deficit.
The firm also sized up the growing GOP field aiming to unseat Quinn.
Rutherford is on top of the pack with 19 percent of Republican respondents saying he is their first choice. Schock is second with 18 percent, and 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady pulled in 14 percent.
As the list goes on, Dillard has 12 percent; 8 percent favored departing U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and 7 percent chose businessman Bruce Rauner, an investor in Wrapports LLC, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times.
PPP Release IL 112912