U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky is seriously considering running for the Senate in 2010 and a new poll she commissioned has the veteran Congresswoman leading a hypothetical three-way Democratic primary.
The poll-- conducted by Lake Research Partners April 19-22 -- surveyed 600 likely voters in the February 2010 Democratic Primary, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. Schakowsky had a slight lead over likely challenger State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, in what the polling memo termed "a race that is wide open at this early stage":
In an initial three-way trial heat, Schakowsky takes nearly a quarter of the vote (24%), narrowly edging out State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (22%). Senator Roland Burris draws just 18% of the vote - a striking indicator of his vulnerability. The intensity of support also narrowly favors Schakowsky (16% strong support), followed by Giannoulias (15%) and Burris (10%). Still, with over one-third (36%) of the Democratic Primary electorate undecided, this seat is up for grabs.
The poll also read voters positive statements about Schakowsky, Giannoulias and Chicago Urban League CEO Cheryle Jackson, who was substituted for Burris "in order to simulate the most competitive scenario with an African-American woman in the race." Schakowsky's numbers soared after the positives were read, according to the polling memo:
After voters hear positive statements about the candidates, Schakowsky posts a double-digit lead. Schakowsky's lead grows from 2 points in the initial ballot to 16 points after voters hear more about the candidates (see text of statements on following page). She leads Giannoulias on the three-way ballot, 38% to 22%, with 21% undecided. C.E.O. Cheryle Jackson attracts 17% of the vote.
Giannoulias, 32, formed a Senate bid exploratory committee in early March. The frequent Obama basketball partner has since raised over $1 million toward a possible run. Schakowsky's poll found Giannoulias to have the most name recognition of the tested candidates, but the memo spun it as a positive for Schakowsky:
Voters have a slightly more informed opinion of Giannoulias, and both candidates are viewed positively. Despite Giannoulias' advantage in name recognition, however, Schakowsky leads throughout.
In an email to supporters, Schakowsky wrote that she will announce whether to run for reelection to Congress or for the Senate on June 8th.
Schakowsky's email and the full polling memo:
Some weeks ago I reported to you that I was taking a serious look at running for the U.S. Senate in 2010. As part of that decision-making process, I commissioned a nationally respected polling firm, Lake Research, to conduct two separate polls to test how well I would do in a competitive election.
Early in the year, we asked voters to judge how well I would fair in a General Election race against a strong Republican contender. It was clear that Illinois voters do not want a Senator who opposed the Obama agenda. The data said I would be the likely winner.
This week we completed a poll to test how I would fair in a competitive Democratic primary. I wanted you to see the results which indicate that, while the outcome is far from conclusive, I would be the strongest contender of those who have indicated their interest so far.
The hardest part of the decision is still yet to come, however - the "Gut Check." I have a very precious seat. I am privileged to represent a marvelous district, I have ten years of seniority in the House, I am part of the leadership team, I sit on the key committees deciding our energy, health and national security policies. This is THE year during which great progress can be made. On the other hand, there would be many new and powerful opportunities serving in the United States Senate - being one of a hundred.
On Monday, June 8th, I will announce whether I will run for reelection to Congress or for the U.S. Senate in 2010.
As I weigh this decision, your opinion, as one who has been a friend and supporter, is of great interest to me. LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK.
To: Interested Parties
From: Lake Research Partners
Subject: The 2010 Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate in Illinois
Date: April 24, 2009
Findings from a recent survey of likely Democratic Primary voters in Illinois show a wide open race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Roland Burris, with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky holding a narrow lead over all candidates, including the incumbent Senator. In addition, when voters learn more information (positive and negative) about the candidates, Schakowsky expands her lead over the field. Schakowsky's message resonates strongly with a Democratic electorate hungry for progressive leadership that will once again provide Illinois families a chance at the American Dream.
· Congresswoman Schakowsky owns a slight lead in a race that is wide open at this early stage. In an initial three-way trial heat, Schakowsky takes nearly a quarter of the vote (24%), narrowly edging out State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (22%). Senator Roland Burris draws just 18% of the vote - a striking indicator of his vulnerability. The intensity of support also narrowly favors Schakowsky (16% strong support), followed by Giannoulias (15%) and Burris (10%). Still, with over one-third (36%) of the Democratic Primary electorate undecided, this seat is up for grabs.
· After voters hear positive statements about the candidates, Schakowsky posts a double-digit lead. Schakowsky's lead grows from 2 points in the initial ballot to 16 points after voters hear more about the candidates (see text of statements on following page). She leads Giannoulias on the three-way ballot, 38% to 22%, with 21% undecided. C.E.O. Cheryle Jackson attracts 17% of the vote.
o Notably, the percentage of voters who support Schakowsky strongly on the informed ballot (23% strong support) outnumbers the total percentage of voters who support Giannoulias (22% overall support).
· Even after voters hear negative information about Schakowsky and the other candidates, Schakowsky retains a solid lead over the field.
· Even more impressive, Schakowsky's lead is not a function of superior name recognition, which actually belongs to Giannoulias. Voters have a slightly more informed opinion of Giannoulias, and both candidates are viewed positively. Despite Giannoulias' advantage in name recognition, however, Schakowsky leads throughout.
· Bottom Line: At this early stage in the race, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is the strongest candidate in a wide open race for the Democratic nomination for Illinois' U.S. Senate seat. Schakowsky's lead on the initial ballot against incumbent Senator Roland Burris and several other serious candidates is impressive, and once voters learn more about each of the candidates they coalesce around her candidacy in significant numbers. Even after hearing a strong attack on Schakowsky, the Congresswoman retains her lead.
Text Box: TEXT OF POSITIVE CANDIDATE STATEMENTS State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias believes Illinois deserves a Senator who can deliver on Obamaâ€™s promise of change. As the state's chief investment officer, he stood up to disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich for greater fiscal integrity, and created new safeguards to curb ethical abuses and make government more accountable. He is running for Senate to rescue government from the narrow interests that control the process, revive the economy and put people back to work. In the spirit of his friend and political mentor, Barack Obama, Alexi does not accept contributions from corporate PACs or Washington lobbyists. This is a time for new solutions and a new generation of leadership. Cheryle Jackson is a powerful voice for civil rights and social justice. A trailblazer who worked her way up to become the first African-American woman to serve as Urban League President, sheâ€™s worked tirelessly to secure millions for women- and minority-owned businesses, and is leading the fight to ensure hardworking Illinoisans see an economic benefit from the 2016 Olympics. As the only African-American in the race to fill Barack Obamaâ€™s former seat, Cheryle is the best candidate to carry out Obamaâ€™s proud legacy of progressive change â€" expanded economic opportunities for working families, strong and stable communities, guaranteed affordable health care for all Americans, and a good education for all children. Cheryle Jackson will bring real change. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky began her career as a young mom leading a successful national campaign to put freshness dates on food. In Congress, sheâ€™s been a champion for progressive change â€" an early opponent of the war in Iraq, an outspoken voice for a womanâ€™s right to choose and equal pay, a fighter for jobs that you can raise a family on, and a real investment in kidsâ€™ education. An early supporter of Obama and the national co-chair of his campaign, Jan is leading the fight with the President to ensure all Americans have guaranteed affordable health care. Jan is working with Obama to put the country back on track, re-instill a sense of hope in our future, and give working families a chance at the American Dream again.
 Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey of 600 likely February 2010 Democratic Primary voters in Illinois. The survey was conducted from April 19-22, 2009. The margin of error for this poll is +/-4.0%.
 On the informed ballot, Cheryle Jackson was substituted for Roland Burris in order to simulate the most competitive scenario with an African-American woman in the race.
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