As Governor Bruce Rauner enters his ninth month in office, his job approval rating continues to fall, a new poll shows.
Burdened by a budget impasse that has lurched beyond 100 days, an October 10 survey conducted by Chicago-based Ogden & Fry of 533 likely voters commissioned by The Illinois Observer's subscription, e-newsletter, The Insider, finds that Rauner's job performance approval is now upside down by 17-points, falling to a new low of 32.3% and his disapproval rising to a new high, 49.9%.
The survey, which had a +/- 4.33% margin of error, shows that 17.8% are undecided.
A June 20 Ogden & Fry poll of 711 likely 2016 voters commissioned by The Insider showed that 35.7% of voters approved of the way the governor was handling his job while 46.7% disapproved or net approval of minus 11 points.
That poll, which had a +/- 3.75% margin of error, found that 17.6% are undecided, which is nearly identical to 17.8% in last week's poll.
Essentially, the governor's earlier support in June shifted to the disapproval column.
Since his term began, Rauner has witnessed his approval rating slowly but steadily drop and has seen undecided voters shrink.
In an April 22 Ogden & Fry poll, after Rauner's first 100 days, the governor's approval stood at 40.6% and disapproval at 36.3% with 23.1% undecided. After the governor's first 30 days, an Ogden & Fry survey conducted for The Insider pegged Rauner's approval at 43.1% and disapproval at 28.2% with 28.6% undecided. And at the start of his term, a January 14 We Ask America poll placed Rauner's approval rating at 52%, with just 23% disapproving and 25% undecided.
Moreover, the governor's new 32.3% job approval is below the 34% registered by then Governor Pat Quinn in a November 22-25, 2013 Public Policy Polling survey, though Quinn had a higher disapproval rating, 60%, to Rauner's current 49.9%.
Nevertheless, Rauner's approval rating shows a large gap between Northern and Southern Illinois
The Insider's July 6 survey of 556 likely voters in the Lake County-district of State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), which had a +/- 4.24% margin of error, found that Rauner had a 52.7% job approval rating from voters and a 30.9% disapproval. 16.3% were undecided.
In 2014, Rauner defeated Quinn in Bush's district 57.8-39.1%. Libertarian Chad Grimm took 2.9%. Rauner's July job rating was off by only five points from his 2014 victory.
However, The Insider's October 3 survey of 636 likely voters in the deep Downstate district of Republican State Senator Dave Luechtelfeld of Okawville showed that just 30.5% of voters approved of Rauner's job performance and 46.5% disapproved. 23.0% were undecided.
Rauner had walloped Quinn in the district, 61.78%-32.43%.
Still, despite the nearly 50% disapproval number, the 17.8% of voters who are undecided signals that the political bottom has not fallen out for Rauner and the GOP's political prospects for legislative gains in 2016 have not been foreclosed. They're still giving the freshman governor the benefit of the doubt.
Indeed, a top campaign operative told The Insider last week that campaign focus groups organized over the summer reveal that voters, though unhappy, see Rauner as someone who is attempting to fix the perceived problems plaguing state government and who are willing to give him some time.
"I'm not convinced -- yet -- that Rauner is a risk to the GOP," the source said.
Nevertheless, the electorate's patience with the governor is not limitless. If the budget conflict drags on further and negative headlines mount, the patience of undecided voters may exhaust itself and the bottom could indeed fall out.
But what is clear is that the trend line has not been the governor's friend.
David also edits The Illinois Observer: The Insider, in which this article first appeared.