Poll Memo: Sean Casten already tied with Peter Roskam
The following memorandum from GarinHartYang Research Group outlines the key findings from a recent telephone survey among a cross-section of 401 likely general election voters in Illinois’s 6th Congressional District conducted on behalf of Casten for Congress. The survey was conducted April 21-23, 2018, including both cell and landline interviews, and has an overall margin of error of ±4.9 percentage points.
BOTTOM LINE: IL-06 is exactly the type of moderate suburban district where today’s Republican Party, which first lurched to the right during the rise of the Tea Party, then contorted itself into the mold of Donald Trump, has fallen completely out of touch with the voters of the district. As a result, our polling shows that voters here are poised to reject Peter Roskam in favor of Democrat Sean Casten in November.
Congressman Roskam is out of step with the district on virtually every major issue of the day, and his poor personal and professional ratings combined with deep antipathy toward President Trump make Roskam one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the nation.
1. Peter Roskam is well-known but not well-liked by his constituents, with personal and professional ratings that are significantly under water. Just one in four voters (25%) hold positive feelings toward Peter Roskam, while 37% express negative feelings toward him. And voters currently DISAPPROVE of the job Peter Roskam is doing in congress by a nine-point margin: 38% approve, 47% disapprove.
- On both of these measures there is far more intensity on the negative side than the positive. Only 9% of voters say they have very positive feelings toward Peter Roskam, while 25% say they have very negative feelings. His job approval ratings are similar, with just 9% saying they strongly approve compared to 26% who strongly disapprove.
- Roskam’s standing is even worse among the key bloc of independent voters who will decide the outcome of this election. Among self-identified independents, Roskam’s feelings thermometer rating is just 16% positive to 43% negative, and his job approval rating is deep under water at 28% approve, 47% disapprove.
- When asked in an open-ended question about their impressions of Peter Roskam and the job he is doing in Congress, fully 66% of voters volunteered a negative impression or criticism of Roskam, while just 40% volunteered something positive.
2. The political environment creates additional headwinds for Peter Roskam. Even if you set aside the fact that the president’s party has lost an average of 28 congressional seats in his first mid-term since World War II, the political environment is incredibly challenging for Peter Roskam.
- President Trump lost IL-06 by 7 points in 2016. And voters here certainly haven’t warmed to the president since the election. Trump’s feelings thermometer is currently negative by a 20-point margin (37% positive, 57% negative), and his job approval stands at 41% approve to 56% disapprove (46% strongly).
- The national Republican brand is certainly no help to Roskam either, as voters here are more negative (49%) than positive (25%) to Republicans in Congress by nearly 2 to 1.
- Perhaps the brightest flashing red light for Peter Roskam is that voters in the district want their member of Congress to be an independent check and balance on Donald Trump rather than to support Trump and help him pass his programs by a decisive 69% to 29% margin, including 76% to 20% among independents. The fact that Peter Roskam has been a virtual rubber stamp for Donald Trump, voting with Trump 94% of the time, puts Roskam FAR out of step with the voters of his district on this critical question, and Roskam’s voting record is a cold hard fact that will be impossible to run away from.
3. All of this leaves Peter Roskam in an extremely perilous position in his effort to win reelection in November.
- Indeed, just one in five voters (19%) say they will definitely vote to reelect Peter Roskam for Congress, while 30% say they will definitely vote for someone else, and 42% will consider voting for someone else. Again, Roskam’s numbers are even worse among independents, among whom just 9% say they will definitely vote to reelect Roskam.
- In our initial trial heat, Sean Casten is in a statistical tie with Peter Roskam, 44% for Casten to 45% for Roskam, with 11% of voters undecided. Among the all-important bloc of independent voters, Casten leads Roskam by 43% to 34%.
- Perhaps even more striking is Roskam’s strength of support…or lack thereof. Incredibly, only 39% of Roskam voters say they strongly support him, which is actually lower than Casten’s strength of support. For a five-term incumbent to have weaker support than a first-time candidate early in the cycle is a sure sign of Roskam’s deep vulnerability.