The Iraq war, more than local issues such as O'Hare Airport expansion or hot button social matters such as abortion, may determine whether Democrat Tammy Duckworth or Republican Peter Roskam wins their high profile House battle.
A poll of 400 likely voters in the west suburban 6th Congressional District taken by the Duckworth campaign May 9-11 shows that 26 percent of the respondents identified the Iraq war and bringing the troops home as the most important problems they wanted their next representative to address.
Issues associated with immigration came in second, at 19 percent.
Duckworth is the wounded Iraq war vet who lost her legs and partial function of an arm when her helicopter was attacked, so that Iraq sentiment is clearly helpful. Roskam, an attorney, is a state senator.
I usually don't write about candidate polls because campaigns offer only self-serving summaries. With some worry about what I don't know, I am reporting on the Duckworth poll because a portion of the actual survey -- not all of it -- was shared with me.
On a horse race question, "if the general election for Congress were held today, for whom would you vote,'' 35 percent said Roskam and 34 percent said Duckworth, according to the Bennett, Petts & Blumenthal poll, which has a 4.9 percent margin of error.
Roskam and Duckworth are running to replace Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in one of a handful of districts in the nation which could determine if the GOP retains control of the House.
Thought for years to be solidly Republican because of Hyde, the Duckworth survey shows the potential in the district for Democrats, especially if national, rather than local, issues matter the most to voters come November.
Roskam starts off with a stronger GOP base vote. Asked if you "generally think of yourself as a Democrat, Republican or Independent,'' 24 percent said strong Republican and 15 percent said strong Democrat. When combined with "leaners,'' the numbers are 49 percent GOP and 36 percent Democrat, with 10 percent Independent.
That means there is a swing vote to be fought over.
President Bush has high negatives in this GOP territory -- 49 percent have a somewhat or very unfavorable opinion of the president and 65 percent said he was doing a fair or poor job.
Whether this national discontent translates locally remains to be seen.
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