Over the past three weeks, forces aligned against Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner have launched a barrage of anti-Rauner ads over the airwaves, on social media and in print.
A new poll shows that, overall, the public isn’t buying it.
The We Ask America poll, conducted Tuesday among 1,178 likely Republican voters statewide , shows Rauner with a commanding lead over his three opponents regardless of how the data is sorted. He leads among men and women in all age groups and by every geographic division.
If you’ve been near a television in recent weeks, it’s been impossible to ignore the back-and-forth in ads that question Rauner’s integrity and business practices and in Rauner’s ads that respond directly to the negative attacks.
Tuesday’s poll shows that the anti-Rauner ads had a slight impact when they first started airing this month, but Rauner began recovering immediately.
Predictably, the survey did not bring good news for the candidacy of Treasurer Dan Rutherford. Rutherford’s numbers fell sharply when he held an emotional Jan. 31 press conference alleging he was being blackmailed and that Rauner was out to “destroy” him. He called for an investigation into an employee’s allegations against him but has declined to release the results of that investigation because the former employee has since filed a lawsuit against him.
Rutherford (the purple line above) has fallen from being front-runner in May to fourth place this week, according to We Ask America.
“Have millions of dollars in negative ads taken a bite out of Rauner? Yeah, but not much (see chart). And Rauner’s bank account remains healthy and open. There isn’t a whole lot of daylight for the others to grab,” writes We Ask America on its website.
With less than three weeks to go now before the March 18 primary, it may take more than just negative ads to cut into Rauner’s lead. While his opponents accuse him of using his vast wealth to buy the election, Rauner’s message clearly is resonating with registered Republicans.